Tracking and Line Length

Using, two different typefaces from each of the following type categories;

I would like you to use the copy at the bottom of the page. (the two paragraphs below the line) and set it FLRR  using one of the following formulas of determining correct line length.

  1. Apply the alphabet-and-a-half line length rule.
    The alphabet-and-a-half rules places the ideal line length at 39 characters regardless of type size. Measure the line length in inches or picas for your chosen body copy font using the alphabet-and-a-half rule. This is one of the measurements you’ll use in finding the ideal line length/column width for your publication.
  2. Apply the points-times-two line length rule.                                                    Take the type size of your body text and multiply it by two. The result is your ideal line length in picas. That is, 12 point type would have an ideal line length of 12×2 or 24 picas (approx. 4 inches).
  3. The optimum number of characters per line should be between 40 – 60 characters counting word spaces.

Title each version with the name of the font 8/14 in Small Caps above each paragraph. Then examine the x-height, length of the ascenders, and the overall “color” of the particular sample. Compare it to others within its category. Take a look at the same      words set in other faces that are not in the same category also. Then add a paragraph      of your own summarizing your findings/observations describing what you observe       using typographic terms/words. At a minimum your description should answer such     main questions as;

  • x-height?
  • overall typographic color?
  • loose or tight letterfit?
  • formal or informal?
  • masculine or feminine?
  • fun or serious?
This will result in a total of 8 samples. (2 typefaces from each of the 4 categories). Print the two examples from each category on a separate letter sized paper with its analysis paragraph below.

Keep in mind the following general rules of thumb:

  • As line length increases, so should leading.
  • San-serif type typically requires more leading than serif type set on the same line length (measure)

Avoid creating typographic widows.
Pay attention to how lines break. keep logical groupings of words together on the same line if possible. (example, Mr. John Smith should all remain on the same line, not Mr. on one line and John Smith on the next one).

Pay attention to the justification rag edge on the right side of the paragraph. It should not make a specific shape, nor should it vary greatly in length from line to line.


When using the computer it is totally unnecessary to leave a double space between each sentence. The computer is a word processor. It has the capability to automatically fine tune the spacing of letters and words which the typewriter (in spite of other advantages) does not. Double spaced sentences on the computer results in incorrect, as well as, very awkward visual composition.

There are three different dashes available to us when using a computer; the hyphen, en dash and em dash. The shortest, the hyphen, is used only to hyphenate words. The middle length one, the en dash, has several uses but the most common is to separate periods of time. (1992–1995, or 5:00–7:00). The longest length dash, the em dash, again has many uses but the two most common are to separate an author’s name from a composition or to separate multiple clauses within a sentence. In any case, it is unnecessary—and incorrect—to type double hyphens to create the effect of an em dash.

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