Headline Line Breaks
by Ilene Strizver
When setting display type of any kind – a book cover, an advertisement, a poster, a magazine article or an invitation – pay close attention to the line breaks. Why? In today’s digital world, where the designer is also the typesetter, you are responsible for making the text as readable, logical, and attractive as possible, and well-chosen line breaks play a starring role.
Some headlines and subheads take up just one line, but many others are longer and require line breaks to ?t them into the allotted space. If you let the default setting in your program make these breaks for you, often you will get text that doesn’t look or read as well as you’d like. As a designer, it is your job to review all heads and subheads and to make manual line breaks both for sense (or context) as well as for visual balance. What exactly does this mean?
Breaking for sense means breaking a line where one might logically pause when reading it aloud. This includes keeping adjectives with their nouns.
Breaking for balance means avoiding both widows - or very short lines - and radically differing, unbalanced line lengths. Don’t hyphenate, and avoid breaking proper names over two lines if possible.
The Adobe® InDesign® Balance Ragged Lines feature can go some way toward preventing unequal line lengths in headlines and subheads. Access this feature locally from the Paragraph Panel, or incorporate it in Paragraph Styles under Indents and Spacing. Since this feature does not take context or meaning into consideration, you’ll need to review the text carefully and may need to make additional tweaks.
NOTE: Neither QuarkXpress® nor any of the word processing applications have a feature to help with line breaks.
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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.