From book designer Joel Friedlander:
Anyone who wants to do their own book design can spend some very worthwhile time studying books that are old. I mean really old, like going all the way back to the beginning of printed books. Early on, I found these books and the book typography that’s used in them very stimulating when thinking about how I wanted the books I was working on to look.
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Book design evolved slowly over a period of 500 years to get to the point it is today. We have terrific tools and enough experience to know how to present long-text documents to readers so that they really want to read them.
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One of the ways you can see that influence is in the confusion many do-it-yourselfers have about paragraphing styles.
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As it happens, there are two basic ways to differentiate paragraphs:
- By indenting the first line of the paragraph. This indent, combined with the short last line of the paragraph that just ended, gives a clear visual signal that a new paragraph has started. The indent is typically between 1 and 2 ems, or about .25″.
- By adding a space between paragraphs. This is typically a line space, that is, the same amount of space between one line in a paragraph and the next. The appearance of what amounts to a blank line, along with that same short last line of the paragraph above, gives us the “new paragraph here” signal.
I think you could say that we owe this second method of paragraphing to the Internet and the vast amount of text we now read online.
Reading on-screen is vastly different from reading a printed book, and a new default style has arisen out of the needs of readers of all this electronic text.
Link to the rest at The Book Designer