Saturday, January 07, 2017


I have always attempted to eliminate ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’ in my books. Typographical widows and orphans, that is; there are plenty of the human kind! But I am thinking that it is finicky and generally unnecessary, and sometimes looks worse than leaving them.

Of course, I am formatting the novels in a word processing program, not a publishing one, so I can’t do some of those subtle fixes involving spacing of lines. At least not without it being more trouble than it is worth. I would not leave a line of one or two words at the start of a new page, and perhaps not even at the end of a paragraph, but beyond that, is it worth fooling with?

So, GOD OF RAIN uses a slightly different layout and I do think it looks every bit as good. Maybe even better. I have been noting that more than a few of the books on my shelves from major publishers do not concern themselves much with the whole widow/orphan thing. It is not even noticeable unless one actually looks for it.

Now, maybe it’s also time to think about leaving a ‘ragged’ right margin? Okay, maybe not, at least in novels. But justifying text is only a convention and does change the look of the text itself by adding space between words. It might also be easier to read non-justified lines, thanks to the more even spacing. Were I doing a magazine, I might be inclined to go ‘rag-right.’

Incidentally, turning off the widow and orphan controls also let me get by with fewer pages in the finished book. A penny saved, etc!

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