Breaking for Sense
Setting type has changed drastically from the days of metal and phototypesetting. The responsibility for composing type no longer lies with a highly skilled, dedicated typographer, but more often with a designer or production artist, who may not be trained in this skill.
As a result, there are details of setting good-looking, readable type that have become the responsibility of the designer. One of these is deciding where to break lines in headlines and subheads so that they read well. “Breaking for sense” means not relying on where the software makes automatic breaks, but evaluating the text and making considered line breaks when necessary. This is determined by reading and observing the text, and breaking lines for the best readability often where one would logically pause when reading it aloud as well as appearance.
When breaking for sense, strive to:
- Keep important phrases together
- Avoid hyphenations
- Break a line after punctuation
- Pair adjectives with their nouns
- Keep proper names together
- Avoid widows
- Group color and typestyles together
Designers are now responsible for making the text as readable, logical, and attractive as possible, and line breaks have a major impact on this.
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- Editor’s Note:Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 4th edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.