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Back to Paragraphs

Some point in their careers, the best designers may have found some difficulty in setting the body texts of their works. How do you solve body texts problems?

1. Indents. Paragraphs need to be separated; if not, readers will be faced with an endless block of text. Believe me, no reader would want to be put in that kind of situation.

One common design device to separate paragraphs is to indent the first line of the paragraph. Paragraphs following subheads or headings do not need to be indented though. The contrast of the heading to the paragraph text is enough to make it easy to read.

2. Paragraph Spacing. Another device to separate paragraphs is to use one lead.

For example, if you are setting up a 10/12 type, you would place a space of 12 points between the paragraphs. If you use paragraph spacing, there is no reason to indent the first line. Blocked paragraphs occurs when the first line of paragraphs are not indented and there is no more extra space between paragraphs.

3. Font Size. Picking the right size can be subjective. One rule of thumb is to use smaller type for smaller line widths and large type for larger line widths.

If the line lengths are particularly long, you can make them more legible with extra leading. 65 letters is normally a comfortable line length for most readers. 9 to 14 points are common sizes for text.

4. Reducing Hyphenation. Hyphenation slows down reading. Keep hyphenated words to a minimum. Try to limit hyphenated lines to no more than three consecutive lines.

5. Avoid Widows and Orphans. An orphan is when a paragraph begins on the last line of a page.

A widow is when a paragraph ends on the first line of a page. Most page layout programs allow you to avoid widows and orphans. Using them can make readers lose the continuity of the text they are reading.

6. Endings. Text is generally set ragged right or justified. Ragged left and centered are better left for display type. These styles are difficult to read. Justified text is considered traditional or formal, but typesetting it can be tricky. On the other hand, justified text actually lets you fit more text on the page.

Ragged right is usually considered easier to read, but controlling the rag can be problematic. It's a less formal look that increases white space.

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Submitted by:

Florie Lyn Masarate

Florie Lyn Masarate got the flair for reading and writing when she got her first subscription of the school newsletter in kindergarten. She had her first article published on that same newsletter in the third grade.


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