Dylan just sent me this from L’Oignon: Magazine Editor Undergoes Sleek New Redesign.

NEW YORK—Melissa Williams, editor-in-chief of Urbis magazine, launched a long-anticipated redesign of herself Friday. . . . Early feedback has been generally positive, but critics of Williams’ new style and format have called her “distracting for all the wrong reasons,” “far too busy,” and “as hard to read as ever.”


Alternate Facts about book design, topography typography, and printing

While searching for something completely different (isn’t that always the best way to find things?), I just stumbled across this hilarious three-year-old post by Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light: Interesting misinformation.

They call themselves Back Yard Publisher, but I prefer the page’s title tag: Publishing Your Manuescript. Their motto is good, too: Remember! There’s A Publisher in You’re Own Back Yard.

But wait—it gets better:

BYP’s biggest contribution to our understanding of movable lead type is the Alternate Fact that lead was wholly inadequate to the task:

Letter press printing is the original method of transferring ink to paper which was the predominant method of printing until the last thirty to fifty years. In this method ink is rolled on the face of the type, then a piece of paper is pressed into the wet ink and transferred to the paper. Obviously the method worked very well, although the pressure necessary to transfer the ink to the paper created many problems by smashing the soft lead type and making it useless. Letter press is seldom used today.

And no wonder. This unfortunate property of lead type also affected typography:

Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in 1440 and every since that time there has been a struggle between topographers, the people who design the type and the printers or use it.

Typographers have been concerned with how the type appeared on the page and how easily it could be read. …

Printers, on the other hand, have had to deal with a different set of problems, one of the biggest was the smashing and destruction of their precious type. This was especially true when one line of type extended beyond the normal ends of the rows of type. To prevent this destruction of the type the printer simply put some of the spacing he would normally have at the end of the lines between the words (called word spacing) or between the letters (called letter spacing) thus, solving his problem. When this happened we then had a justified page.

This is the only reason there ever was a justified page; …

Which makes the carefully justified lettering in some medieval manuscripts a complete mystery.

It’s a howl. How did I miss this when it was first posted?


Sorry for the lack of posts this week. You know how I was procrastinating for a while? Yeah, well, sometimes fake deadlines turn into real ones. I’ll be copyediting and typesetting interviews all this week.

In the meantime, you can develop a sympathetic editorial cramp by contributing to the e-book booty-creation process over at Distributed Proofreading, where for One! Day! Only! they are celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day in style:

Ahoy There: About This Site

Distributed Proofreaders be founded in 2000 by Cap’n Charles ‘Squirrel King’ Franks to support th’ digitisation o’ Public Domain book-booty. Originally chartered to assist Project Gut’nberg (PG), Distributed Proofateers (DP) be now th’ main source of PG e-books. In 2002, Distributed Privateers received their letter of marque from Project Gut’nberg and as such be supported by Project Gut’nberg. All our proofreaders, managers, developers, deckhands and so on be volunteers. . . .

Here be th’ Site Concept

This ‘ere site provides a web-based method o’ easin’ th’ proofreadin’ work associated wi’ th’ digitization o’ Public Domain books into Project Gut’nberg e-books. By divvying up th’ work into individual pages many fine, feisty swashbucklers can be attacking th’ same book at th’ same time. This significantly speeds up th’ proofreading/e-book booty-creation process.

My project goes to press on Friday. See you after that date.


I’ve been doing this book thing for a long, long time. Here’s the proof: How to Care for a Guinea Pig.


Some of the advice in this book is, um, dubious, but overall it’s a pretty thorough catalogue of everything I knew about guinea pigs when I was nine.

Albino Guinea Pigs have white fur and red eyes. The reason thier eyes are red is because thier eyes really don’t have any color at all so yo look right through them and everyone hold your breath! You can look at the back of the eye! Albinos are not the only guinea pigs with red eyes but I am just telling you.

From the Onion

Résumé Font Offends Employer

More typography reportage from the Onion:

And you can bet this book’s design uses drop folios: 14-Word Diet Stretched To 200 Pages (January 21, 2004).