Adjusting head spacing: Some page designs don’t allow for pages to run long or short. For example, if margins are narrow or the page has both running heads and running feet, there is really no way to cheat on the fixed boundaries of the text block. So this kind of page design is not a good choice if the book consists of long stretches of continuous body text, as you would expect in, say, a novel.

But in many kinds of nonfiction, it’s typical for the text to be broken up by various levels of headings, lists, extracts, and other styles. Nearly all of these text elements have some defined space above them, below them, or both. These spaces are available for adjustment to help the compositor balance the pages and force them to the standard depth. You can add space (evenly) above the headings on a page, adjust the space above and below a list or the items in a list, and so forth. As long as there’s a visual break defined already, the reader will not be confused it it’s slightly larger on one page than on another.

Feathering: Feathering consists of making a small change in the line spacing on a page to change the number of lines that fit within the margins. The main problem with this technique (there are others) is that it changes the color of the page (discussed previously) in a way that’s distracting to the reader. Feathering is not acceptable in fine typography. Don’t do it.

[Previous: part 2]

[Brian Jud invited me to contribute short articles on book interior design to his Book Book Marketing Matters newsletter, a biweekly e-zine. This page is adapted from one of those articles.]