Typesetting is the composition of text by means of arranging physical types[1] or the digital equivalents. Stored letters and other symbols (called sorts in mechanical systems and glyphs in digital systems) are retrieved and ordered according to a language's orthography for visual display. Typesetting requires one or more fonts (which are widely but erroneously confused with and substituted for typefaces). One significant effect of typesetting was that authorship of works could be spotted more easily, making it difficult for copiers who have not gained permission.[2]

A Specimen by William Caslon
A specimen sheet issued by William Caslon, letter founder, from the 1728 edition of Cyclopaedia.
Metal type
Diagram of a cast metal sort.

Pre-digital era

Manual typesetting

During much of the letterpress era, movable type was composed by hand for each page. Cast metal sorts were composed into words, then lines, then paragraphs, then pages of text and tightly bound together to make up a form, with all letter faces exactly the same "height to paper", creating an even surface of type. The form was placed in a press, inked, and an impression made on paper.

During typesetting, individual sorts are picked from a type case with the right hand, and set into a composing stick held in the left hand from left to right, and as viewed by the setter upside down. As seen in the photo of the composing stick, a lower case 'q' looks like a 'd', a lower case 'b' looks like a 'p', a lower case 'p' looks like a 'b' and a lower case 'd' looks like a 'q'. This is reputed to be the origin of the expression "mind your p's and q's". It might just as easily have been "mind your b's and d's".

The diagram at right illustrates a cast metal sort: a face, b body or shank, c point size, 1 shoulder, 2 nick, 3 groove, 4 foot. Wooden printing sorts were in use for centuries in combination with metal type. Not shown, and more the concern of the casterman, is the “set”, or width of each sort. Set width, like body size, is measured in points.

In order to extend the working life of type, and to account for the finite sorts in a case of type, copies of forms were cast when anticipating subsequent printings of a text, freeing the costly type for other work. This was particularly prevalent in book and newspaper work where rotary presses required type forms to wrap an impression cylinder rather than set in the bed of a press. In this process, called stereotyping, the entire form is pressed into a fine matrix such as plaster of Paris or papier mâché called a flong to create a positive, from which the stereotype form was electrotyped, cast of type metal.

Advances such as the typewriter and computer would push the state of the art even farther ahead. Still, hand composition and letterpress printing have not fallen completely out of use, and since the introduction of digital typesetting, it has seen a revival as an artisanal pursuit. However, it is a very small niche within the larger typesetting market.

Hot metal typesetting

The time and effort required to manually compose the text led to several efforts in the 19th century to produce mechanical typesetting. While some, such as the Paige compositor, met with limited success, by the end of the 19th century, several methods had been devised whereby an operator working a keyboard or other devices could produce the desired text. Most of the successful systems involved the in-house casting of the type to be used, hence are termed "hot metal" typesetting. The Linotype machine, invented in 1884, used a keyboard to assemble the casting matrices, and cast an entire line of type at a time (hence its name). In the Monotype System, a keyboard was used to punch a paper tape, which was then fed to control a casting machine. The Ludlow Typograph involved hand-set matrices, but otherwise used hot metal. By the early 20th century, the various systems were nearly universal in large newspapers and publishing houses.


Linotype CRTronic 360
Linotype CRTronic 360 phototypesetting terminal

Phototypesetting or "cold type" systems first appeared in the early 1960s and rapidly displaced continuous casting machines. These devices consisted of glass or film disks or strips (one per font) that spun in front of a light source to selectively expose characters onto light-sensitive paper. Originally they were driven by pre-punched paper tapes. Later they were connected to computer front ends.

One of the earliest electronic photocomposition systems was introduced by Fairchild Semiconductor. The typesetter typed a line of text on a Fairchild keyboard that had no display. To verify correct content of the line it was typed a second time. If the two lines were identical a bell rang and the machine produced a punched paper tape corresponding to the text. With the completion of a block of lines the typesetter fed the corresponding paper tapes into a phototypesetting device that mechanically set type outlines printed on glass sheets into place for exposure onto a negative film. Photosensitive paper was exposed to light through the negative film, resulting in a column of black type on white paper, or a galley. The galley was then cut up and used to create a mechanical drawing or paste up of a whole page. A large film negative of the page is shot and used to make plates for offset printing.

Digital era

Dutch newsreel from 1977 about the transition to computer typesetting

The next generation of phototypesetting machines to emerge were those that generated characters on a cathode ray tube. Typical of the type were the Alphanumeric APS2 (1963),[3] IBM 2680 (1967), I.I.I. VideoComp (1973?), Autologic APS5 (1975),[4] and Linotron 202 (1978).[5] These machines were the mainstay of phototypesetting for much of the 1970s and 1980s. Such machines could be "driven online" by a computer front-end system or took their data from magnetic tape. Type fonts were stored digitally on conventional magnetic disk drives.

Computers excel at automatically typesetting and correcting documents.[6] Character-by-character, computer-aided phototypesetting was, in turn, rapidly rendered obsolete in the 1980s by fully digital systems employing a raster image processor to render an entire page to a single high-resolution digital image, now known as imagesetting.

The first commercially successful laser imagesetter, able to make use of a raster image processor was the Monotype Lasercomp. ECRM, Compugraphic (later purchased by Agfa) and others rapidly followed suit with machines of their own.

Early minicomputer-based typesetting software introduced in the 1970s and early 1980s, such as Datalogics Pager, Penta, Atex, Miles 33, Xyvision, troff from Bell Labs, and IBM's Script product with CRT terminals, were better able to drive these electromechanical devices, and used text markup languages to describe type and other page formatting information. The descendants of these text markup languages include SGML, XML and HTML.

The minicomputer systems output columns of text on film for paste-up and eventually produced entire pages and signatures of 4, 8, 16 or more pages using imposition software on devices such as the Israeli-made Scitex Dolev. The data stream used by these systems to drive page layout on printers and imagesetters, often proprietary or specific to a manufacturer or device, drove development of generalized printer control languages, such as Adobe Systems' PostScript and Hewlett-Packard's PCL.

Oscar wilde english renaissance of art 2
Text sample (an extract of the essay The Renaissance of English Art by Oscar Wilde) typeset in Iowan Old Style roman, italics and small caps, adjusted to approximately 10 words per line, with the typeface sized at 14 points on 1.4 x leading, with 0.2 points extra tracking.

Computerized typesetting was so rare that BYTE (comparing itself to "the proverbial shoemaker's children who went barefoot") did not use any computers in production until its August 1979 issue used a Compugraphics system for typesetting and page layout. The magazine did not yet accept articles on floppy disks, but hoped to do so "as matters progress".[7] Before the 1980s, practically all typesetting for publishers and advertisers was performed by specialist typesetting companies. These companies performed keyboarding, editing and production of paper or film output, and formed a large component of the graphic arts industry. In the United States, these companies were located in rural Pennsylvania, New England or the Midwest, where labor was cheap and paper was produced nearby, but still within a few hours' travel time of the major publishing centers.

In 1985, desktop publishing became available, starting with the Apple Macintosh, Aldus PageMaker (and later QuarkXPress) and PostScript. Improvements in software and hardware, and rapidly lowering costs, popularized desktop publishing and enabled very fine control of typeset results much less expensively than the minicomputer dedicated systems. At the same time, word processing systems, such as Wang and WordPerfect, revolutionized office documents. They did not, however, have the typographic ability or flexibility required for complicated book layout, graphics, mathematics, or advanced hyphenation and justification rules (H and J).

By the year 2000, this industry segment had shrunk because publishers were now capable of integrating typesetting and graphic design on their own in-house computers. Many found the cost of maintaining high standards of typographic design and technical skill made it more economical to outsource to freelancers and graphic design specialists.

The availability of cheap or free fonts made the conversion to do-it-yourself easier, but also opened up a gap between skilled designers and amateurs. The advent of PostScript, supplemented by the PDF file format, provided a universal method of proofing designs and layouts, readable on major computers and operating systems.

SCRIPT variants

John A Prior Health Sciences Library Mural Typesetter
Mural mosaic "Typesetter" at John A. Prior Health Sciences Library in Ohio

IBM created and inspired a family of typesetting languages with names that were derivatives of the word "SCRIPT". Later versions of SCRIPT included advanced features, such as automatic generation of a table of contents and index, multicolumn page layout, footnotes, boxes, automatic hyphenation and spelling verification.[8]

NSCRIPT was a port of SCRIPT to OS and TSO from CP-67/CMS SCRIPT.[9]

Waterloo Script was created at the University of Waterloo later.[10] One version of SCRIPT was created at MIT and the AA/CS at UW took over project development in 1974. The program was first used at UW in 1975. In the 1970s, SCRIPT was the only practical way to word process and format documents using a computer. By the late 1980s, the SCRIPT system had been extended to incorporate various upgrades.[11]

The initial implementation of SCRIPT at UW was documented in the May 1975 issue of the Computing Centre Newsletter, which noted some the advantages of using SCRIPT:

a) It easily handles footnotes.

b) Page numbers can be in Arabic or Roman numerals, and can appear at the top or bottom of the page, in the centre, on the left or on the right, or on the left for even-numbered pages and on the right for odd-numbered pages.

c) Underscoring or overstriking can be made a function of SCRIPT, thus uncomplicating editor functions.

d) SCRIPT files are regular OS datasets or CMS files.

e) Output can be obtained on the printer, or at the terminal…" The article also pointed out SCRIPT had over 100 commands to assist in formatting documents, though 8 to 10 of these commands were sufficient to complete most formatting jobs. Thus, SCRIPT had many of the capabilities computer users generally associate with contemporary word processors.[12]

SCRIPT/VS was a SCRIPT variant developed at IBM in the 1980s.

DWScript is a version of SCRIPT for MS-DOS, called after its author, D. D. Williams,[13] but was never released to the public and only used internally by IBM.

Script is still available from IBM as part of the Document Composition Facility for the z/OS operating system.[14]

SGML and XML systems

The standard generalized markup language (SGML) was based upon IBM Generalized Markup Language (GML). GML was a set of macros on top of IBM Script. DSSSL is an international standard developed to provide a stylesheets for SGML documents.

XML is a successor of SGML. XSL-FO is most often used to generate PDF files from XML files.

The arrival of SGML/XML as the document model made other typesetting engines popular.

Such engines include Datalogics Pager, Penta, Miles 33's OASYS, Xyvision's XML Professional Publisher (XPP), FrameMaker, Arbortext. XSL-FO compatible engines include Apache FOP, Antenna House Formatter, RenderX's XEP. These products allow users to program their SGML/XML typesetting process with the help of scripting languages.

YesLogic's Prince is another one, which is based on CSS Paged Media.

Troff and successors

During the mid-1970s, Joseph Ossanna, working at Bell Laboratories, wrote the troff typesetting program to drive a Wang C/A/T phototypesetter owned by the Labs; it was later enhanced by Brian Kernighan to support output to different equipment, such as laser printers. While its use has fallen off, it is still included with a number of Unix and Unix-like systems, and has been used to typeset a number of high-profile technical and computer books. Some versions, as well as a GNU work-alike called groff, are now open source.

TeX and LaTeX

AMS Euler sample
Mathematical text typeset using TeX and the AMS Euler font.

The TeX system, developed by Donald E. Knuth at the end of the 1970s, is another widespread and powerful automated typesetting system that has set high standards, especially for typesetting mathematics. LuaTeX and LuaLaTeX are variants of TeX and of LaTeX scriptable in Lua. TeX is considered fairly difficult to learn on its own, and deals more with appearance than structure. The LaTeX macro package written by Leslie Lamport at the beginning of the 1980s offered a simpler interface, and an easier way to systematically encode the structure of a document. LaTeX markup is very widely used in academic circles for published papers and even books. Although standard TeX does not provide an interface of any sort, there are programs that do. These programs include Scientific Workplace, TeXmacs, MiKTeX and LyX, which are graphical/interactive editors.

Other text formatters

Several other text formatting software exist, but are not widely used. Notably Lout, Patoline, Sile, Pollen, Ant

See also


  1. ^ Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 December 2009. Dictionary.reference.com
  2. ^ Murray, Stuart A., The Library: An Illustrated History, ALA edition, Skyhorse, 2009, page 131
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology, 1976
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology
  5. ^ Linotype History
  6. ^ Petru-Ioan Becheru (Oct 2011). "Correcting Romanian typesetting mistakes by using regular expressions". An. Univ. Spiru Haret—ser. matemat.-inform. 7 (2): 31–36. ISSN 1841-7833. 83. Retrieved 2012-04-09.(webpage has a translation button)
  7. ^ Helmers, Carl (August 1979). "Notes on the Appearance of BYTE..." BYTE. pp. 158–159.
  8. ^ U01-0547, "Introduction to SCRIPT," is available through PRTDOC.
  9. ^ SCRIPT 90.1 Implementation Guide, June 6, 1990
  10. ^ CSG.uwaterloo.ca
  11. ^ A Chronology of Computing at The University of Waterloo
  12. ^ Glossary of University of Waterloo Computing Chronology
  13. ^ DWScript – Document Composition Facility for the IBM Personal Computer Version 4.6 Updates, DW-04167, Nov 8th, 1985
  14. ^ IBM Document Composition Facility (DCF)

External links

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing and typesetting software application produced by Adobe Systems. It can be used to create works such as posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, presentations, books and ebooks. InDesign can also publish content suitable for tablet devices in conjunction with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Graphic designers and production artists are the principal users, creating and laying out periodical publications, posters, and print media. It also supports export to EPUB and SWF formats to create e-books and digital publications, including digital magazines, and content suitable for consumption on tablet computers. In addition, InDesign supports XML, style sheets, and other coding markup, making it suitable for exporting tagged text content for use in other digital and online formats. The Adobe InCopy word processor uses the same formatting engine as InDesign.

Canons of page construction

The canons of page construction are historical reconstructions, based on careful measurement of extant books and what is known of the mathematics and engineering methods of the time, of manuscript-framework methods that may have been used in Medieval- or Renaissance-era book design to divide a page into pleasing proportions. Since their popularization in the 20th century, these canons have influenced modern-day book design in the ways that page proportions, margins and type areas (print spaces) of books are constructed.

The notion of canons, or laws of form, of book page construction was popularized by Jan Tschichold in the mid to late twentieth century, based on the work of J. A. van de Graaf, Raúl M. Rosarivo, Hans Kayser, and others. Tschichold wrote, “Though largely forgotten today, methods and rules upon which it is impossible to improve have been developed for centuries. To produce perfect books these rules have to be brought to life and applied.” Kayser's 1946 Ein harmonikaler Teilungskanon had earlier used the term canon in this context.

Typographers and book designers are influenced by these principles to this day in page layout, with variations related to the availability of standardized paper sizes, and the diverse types of commercially printed books.

Donald Knuth

Donald Ervin Knuth ( kə-NOOTH; born January 10, 1938) is an American computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University.

He is the author of the multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming. He contributed to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms and systematized formal mathematical techniques for it. In the process he also popularized the asymptotic notation. In addition to fundamental contributions in several branches of theoretical computer science, Knuth is the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system, the related METAFONT font definition language and rendering system, and the Computer Modern family of typefaces.

As a writer and scholar, Knuth created the WEB and CWEB computer programming systems designed to encourage and facilitate literate programming, and designed the MIX/MMIX instruction set architectures. Knuth strongly opposes granting software patents, having expressed his opinion to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Organisation.


In metal typesetting, a font was a particular size, weight and style of a typeface. Each font was a matched set of type, one piece (called a "sort") for each glyph, and a typeface consisting of a range of fonts that shared an overall design.

In modern usage, with the advent of digital typography, "font" is frequently synonymous with "typeface". Each style is in a separate "font file"—for instance, the typeface "Bulmer" may include the fonts "Bulmer roman", "Bulmer italic", "Bulmer bold" and "Bulmer extended"—but the term "font" might be applied either to one of these alone or to the whole typeface.

In both traditional typesetting and modern usage, the word "font" refers to the delivery mechanism of the typeface design. In traditional typesetting, the font would be made from metal or wood. Today, the font is a digital file.

GNU TeXmacs

GNU TeXmacs is a scientific word processor and typesetting component of the GNU Project. It was inspired by TeX and GNU Emacs, though it shares no code with those programs. TeXmacs does use TeX fonts. It is written and maintained by Joris van der Hoeven. The program produces structured documents with a WYSIWYG user interface. New document styles can be created by the user. The editor provides high-quality typesetting algorithms and TeX fonts for publishing professional looking documents.

Graphite (SIL)

Graphite is a programmable Unicode-compliant smart-font technology and rendering system developed by SIL International as free software, distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License and the Common Public License.

Hanging punctuation

Hanging punctuation or exdentation is a way of typesetting punctuation marks and bullet points, most commonly quotation marks and hyphens, so that they do not disrupt the ‘flow’ of a body of text or ‘break’ the margin of alignment. It is so called because the punctuation appears to ‘hang’ in the margin of the text, and is not incorporated into the block or column of text. It is commonly used when text is fully justified. The style was used by Gutenberg in the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed in Europe.

Very few desktop publishing applications allow for automatic hanging punctuation. This often requires manual intervention by the designer or typographer, or the use of drawing software which supports this feature, or the use of sophisticated typesetting tools. PdfTeX, a variant of the TeX typesetting program, has microtypographic capabilities that allow for semi-automatic hanging punctuation. Arbortext APP (formerly 3B2), QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign and Corel Ventura are desktop publishing applications which offer automatic support for hanging punctuation. The blogging platform Medium implemented hanging quotes in 2014.A related concept is optical margin alignment; letters such as W are set slightly into the margin to create an illusion of balance of white space.

Hot metal typesetting

In printing and typography, hot metal typesetting (also called mechanical typesetting, hot lead typesetting, hot metal, and hot type) is a technology for typesetting text in letterpress printing. This method injects molten type metal into a mold that has the shape of one or more glyphs. The resulting sorts or slugs are later used to press ink onto paper. Normally the typecasting machine would be controlled by a keyboard or by a paper tape.

Hot metal typesetting was developed in the late nineteenth century as a development of conventional cast metal type. The technology had several advantages: it reduced labour since type sorts did not need to be slotted into position manually, and cast crisp new type for each printing job. In the case of Linotype machines, each line was cast as a robust continuous block (hence "line o'type") which was useful for rapid newspaper printing. It was the standard technology used for mass-market printing from the late nineteenth century, finally declining with the arrival of phototypesetting and then electronic processes in the 1950s to 1980s.


LaTeX ( LAH-tekh or LAY-tekh; a shortening of Lamport TeX) is a document preparation system. When writing, the writer uses plain text as opposed to the formatted text found in WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") word processors like Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer and Apple Pages. The writer uses markup tagging conventions to define the general structure of a document (such as article, book, and letter), to stylise text throughout a document (such as bold and italics), and to add citations and cross-references. A TeX distribution such as TeX Live or MikTeX is used to produce an output file (such as PDF or DVI) suitable for printing or digital distribution. Within the typesetting system, its name is stylised as LaTeX.

LaTeX is widely used in academia for the communication and publication of scientific documents in many fields, including mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, chemistry, physics, economics, linguistics, quantitative psychology, philosophy, and political science. It also has a prominent role in the preparation and publication of books and articles that contain complex multilingual materials, such as Tamil, Sanskrit and Greek. LaTeX uses the TeX typesetting program for formatting its output, and is itself written in the TeX macro language.

LaTeX can be used as a standalone document preparation system or as an intermediate format. In the latter role, for example, it is sometimes used as part of a pipeline for translating DocBook and other XML-based formats to PDF. The typesetting system offers programmable desktop publishing features and extensive facilities for automating most aspects of typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and cross-referencing of tables and figures, chapter and section headings, the inclusion of graphics, page layout, indexing and bibliographies.

Like TeX, LaTeX started as a writing tool for mathematicians and computer scientists, but from early in its development it has also been taken up by scholars who needed to write documents that include complex math expressions or non-Latin scripts, such as Arabic, Sanskrit and Chinese.LaTeX is intended to provide a high-level language that accesses the power of TeX in an easier way for writers. In short, TeX handles the layout side, while LaTeX handles the content side for document processing. LaTeX comprises a collection of TeX macros and a program to process LaTeX documents. Because the plain TeX formatting commands are elementary, it provides authors with ready-made commands for formatting and layout requirements such as chapter headings, footnotes, cross-references and bibliographies.

LaTeX was originally written in the early 1980s by Leslie Lamport at SRI International. The current version is LaTeX2e (stylised as LaTeX2ε). LaTeX is free software and is distributed under the LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL).

Linotype machine

The Linotype machine ( LYNE-ə-type) is a "line casting" machine used in printing sold by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company and related companies. It was a hot metal typesetting system that cast blocks of metal type for individual uses. Linotype became one of the mainstay methods to set type, especially small-size body text, for newspapers, magazines, and posters from the late 19th century to the 1970s and 1980s, when it was largely replaced by phototypesetting, offset lithography printing and computer typesetting. The name of the machine comes from the fact that it produces an entire line of metal type at once, hence a line-o'-type, a significant improvement over the previous industry standard, i.e., manual, letter-by-letter typesetting using a composing stick and drawers of letters.

The linotype machine operator enters text on a 90-character keyboard. The machine assembles matrices, which are molds for the letter forms, in a line. The assembled line is then cast as a single piece, called a slug, of type metal in a process known as hot metal typesetting. The matrices are then returned to the type magazine from which they came, to be reused later. This allows much faster typesetting and composition than original hand composition in which operators place down one pre-cast glyph (metal letter, punctuation mark or space) at a time.

The machine revolutionized typesetting and with it especially newspaper publishing, making it possible for a relatively small number of operators to set type for many pages on a daily basis. Before Ottmar Mergenthaler's invention of the linotype in 1884, daily newspapers were limited to eight pages.

Monospaced font

A monospaced font, also called a fixed-pitch, fixed-width, or non-proportional font, is a font whose letters and characters each occupy the same amount of horizontal space. This contrasts with variable-width fonts, where the letters and spacings have different widths.

Monospaced fonts are customary on typewriters and for typesetting computer code.

Music engraving

Music engraving is the art of drawing music notation at high quality for the purpose of mechanical reproduction. The term music copying is almost equivalent—though music engraving implies a higher degree of skill and quality, usually for publication. The name of the process originates in plate engraving, a widely used technique dating from the late sixteenth century. The term engraving is now used to refer to any high-quality method of drawing music notation, particularly on a computer ("computer engraving" or "computer setting") or by hand ("hand engraving").


Phototypesetting is a method of setting type, rendered obsolete with the popularity of the personal computer and desktop publishing software, that uses a photographic process to generate columns of type on a scroll of photographic paper.The first phototypesetters quickly project light through a film negative image of an individual character in a font, then through a lens that magnifies or reduces the size of the character onto photographic paper, which is collected on a spool in a light-proof canister. The photographic paper or film is then fed into a processor—a machine that pulls the paper or film strip through two or three baths of chemicals—where it emerges ready for paste-up or film make-up. Later phototypesetting machines used alternative methods, such as displaying a digitised character on a CRT screen.

Phototypesetting offered numerous advantages over metal type, including the lack of need to keep heavy metal type and matrices in stock, the ability to use a much wider range of fonts and graphics and print them at any desired size, as well as faster page layout setting.

Sigil (application)

Sigil is free, open-source editing software for e-books in the EPUB format.

As a cross-platform application, Sigil is distributed for the Windows, macOS and Linux platforms under the GNU GPL license. Sigil supports both WYSIWYG and code-based editing of EPUB files, as well as the import of HTML and plain text files.Sigil has been developed by Strahinja Val Marković and others since 2009. From July 2011 to June 2015 John Schember was the lead developer. In June 2015 development of Sigil was taken over by Kevin Hendricks and Doug Massay.

Small caps

In typography, small capitals (usually abbreviated small caps) are lowercase characters typeset with glyphs that resemble uppercase letters ("capitals") but reduced in height and weight, close to the surrounding lowercase (small) letters or text figures, for example: Text in Small Caps. Note that this is technically not a case-transformation, but a substitution of glyphs, although the effect is often simulated by case-transformation and scaling. Small caps are used in running text as a form of emphasis that is less dominant than all uppercase text, and as a method of emphasis or distinctiveness for text alongside or instead of italics, or when boldface is inappropriate. Small caps can be used to draw attention to the opening phrase or line of a new section of text, or to provide an additional style in a dictionary entry where many parts must be typographically differentiated.

Well-designed small capitals are not simply scaled-down versions of normal capitals; they normally retain the same stroke weight as other letters and have a wider aspect ratio for readability.

Typically, the height of a small capital glyph will be one ex, the same height as most lowercase characters in the font. In fonts with relatively low x-height, however, small caps may be somewhat larger than this. For example, in some Tiro Typeworks fonts, small caps glyphs are 30% larger than x-height, and 70% the height of full capitals. To differentiate between these two alternatives, the x-height form is sometimes called petite caps, preserving the name "small caps" for the larger variant.

OpenType fonts can define both forms via the "small caps" and the "petite caps" features. When the support for the petite caps feature is absent from a desktop-publishing program, x-height small caps are often substituted.

Many word processors and text-formatting systems include an option to format text in caps and small caps, which leaves uppercase letters as they are, but converts lowercase letters to small caps. How this is implemented depends on the typesetting system; some can use true small caps glyphs that are included in modern professional font sets; but less complex digital fonts do not have a small-caps glyphs, so the typesetting system simply reduces the uppercase letters by a fraction (often 1.5 to 2 points less than the base scale). However, this will make the characters look somewhat out of proportion. A workaround to simulate real small capitals is to use a one-level bolder version of the small caps generated by such systems, to match well with the normal weights of capitals and lowercase, especially when such small caps are extended about 5% or letterspaced a half point or a point.

Sort (typesetting)

In typesetting by hand compositing, a sort or type is a piece of type representing a particular letter or symbol, cast from a matrix mold and assembled with other sorts bearing additional letters into lines of type to make up a form from which a page is printed.


TeX (, see below), stylized within the system as TeX, is a typesetting system (or "formatting system") designed and mostly written by Donald Knuth and released in 1978. TeX is a popular means of typesetting complex mathematical formulae; it has been noted as one of the most sophisticated digital typographical systems.TeX is popular in academia, especially in mathematics, computer science, economics, engineering, linguistics, physics, statistics, and quantitative psychology. It has largely displaced Unix troff, the other favored formatting system, in many Unix installations, which use both for different purposes. It is also used for many other typesetting tasks, especially in the form of LaTeX, ConTeXt, and other macro packages.

TeX was designed with two main goals in mind: to allow anybody to produce high-quality books using minimal effort, and to provide a system that would give exactly the same results on all computers, at any point in time (together with the Metafont language for font description and the Computer Modern family of typefaces) TeX is free software, which made it accessible to a wide range of users.

Typographic alignment

In typesetting and page layout, alignment or range is the setting of text flow or image placement relative to a page, column (measure), table cell, or tab. The type alignment setting is sometimes referred to as text alignment, text justification, or type justification. The edge of a page or column is known as a margin, and a gap between columns is known as a gutter.

Widows and orphans

In typesetting, widows and orphans are lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. (The strictly correct term for the top and bottom of the page are head and foot, respectively.) There is some disagreement about the definitions of widow and orphan; what one source calls a widow another calls an orphan. The Chicago Manual of Style uses these definitions:


A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text. Mnemonically, a widow is "alone at the top" (albeit of the family tree but, in this case, of the page).


A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text. Mnemonically, an orphan is "alone at the bottom" (albeit of the family tree but, in this case, of the page).Donald Knuth, the creator of the TeX computer-typesetting system, calls an orphan a club line.

The book publishing process
Copy preparation
Book production
Typographic units
Digital typography
Ways to make
Printing press
Other equipment

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.