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The Rectangle in Typography

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One of the features of the early printed book compared with its manuscript forerunner, the codex, is that all its lines are the same length, giving the text on the page the shape of a perfect rectangle.

Yet in the history of typography that perfection has more than once been eroded. Three factors have been responsible for this: first, the shape and position of a word-break character (the hyphen) at the end of the line; second, the rise of the modern paragraph in the sixteenth century, leading to white space to the right of the last line and also to the left of the first line of a paragraph; and third, the arrival of unjustified typesetting in the second half of the twentieth century.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam Netherlands


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