Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On widows, orphans and dingbats...

Over the course of assembling the physical book that is the Indiana Review, I've come across a few production terms that seem to fall in a particular category: typesetting personified. You may have already heard of typeface but here are some others:

widow - a single line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page or column

orphan - a single line of a paragraph at the top of a page or column

(According to Wikipedia, "One easy way to remember the difference between an orphan and a widow is to remember that orphans 'have a future but no past,' while widows 'have a past but no future' just as an orphan or widow in life." Eep!)

There are also type families and superfamilies, which are groupings and categories of typefaces and fonts. (Perhaps there is hope for our poor widows and orphans after all!)

My all time favorite though is the term "dingbat." A dingbat is the small decorative mark, bullet, or symbol that usually marks a section break. While I would love for this term to also be a personification, it is actually onomatopoeic. In old style metal-type print shops, they would ding an ornament into the space then bat it tight to be ready for inking.

Typically IR sticks with a series of three diamonds for our dingbats but sometimes we get something a little more fun, like the jolly roger in Maureen Seaton's poem "Fractal Pirates (Five Iterations)" in issue 30.1, Summer 2008.



1 comment:

Denis said...

May be my collection of free dingbats become a cool addition for this entry :)
RAR, 50 mb