Typographic Horrors: Rivers of Terror

Halloween is just a week away and to get you in the mood we’ll be rolling out a series of tales about common typographic errors over the next few days. We won’t leave you completely in the cold and dark – we’ll also tell you how to avoid committing such deadly sins. And now, for our first horror story:

She opened the book and screamed. Remnants of the crime splattered across the page. Crimson in magnitude, the glaring error ran in deep rivulets throughout each paragraph. “RIVERS!” she shrieked. “RIIIIIVERS!”

It was a crime of negligence, really. A rookie mistake by a designer not bent toward mayhem, but hurried to finish the job. He simply hadn’t checked after full justifying the paragraphs in the text. As a result, his ignorance had created unsightly patterns of white space that ran the length of the pages in the document – rivers.

He could’ve easily avoided it all. By taking some extra time to adjust his hyphenation and justification settings or choosing a typeface with different letterspacing the reader would be spared. The ultimate fix to avoid such pain and suffering? Rewriting the copy to fit to the page.

“Rivers!!!” text in graphic set in Dead Mans Chest by Comicraft

3 Comments

  1. Posted October 24, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    I was JUST watching a video about this for my Multimedia class! Too funny. Thanks for the post, Meghan!

  2. Granville Sellars
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

    I wouldn’t have accepted the word
    placement of the ranged left text used.

    Whilst I don’t have the typeface used
    I would have broken the lines as follows:

    I find a It was a crime of negligence, really.
    A rookie mistake by a designer not bent
    toward mayhem, but hurried to finish the job.
    He simply hadn’t checked after full justifying
    the paragraphs in the text. As a result, his
    ignorance had created unsightly patterns
    of white space that ran the length of the
    pages in the document – rivers.

    He could’ve easily avoided it all.
    By taking some extra time to adjust his
    hyphenation and justification settings or
    choosing a typeface with different letter-
    spacing the reader would be spared.
    The ultimate fix to avoid such pain and
    suffering? Rewriting the copy to fit to
    the page.

  3. Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Rivers played a lead role in Katja Lange-Müller’s early novel Die Letzten: Aufzeichnungen aus Udo Posbichs Drückerei. One of the characters discovers rivers in a Russian book which spell out the Russian word for peace over a few pages and he becomes obsessed with typesetting books so as to produce messages through the rivers. Unfortunately, the novel hasn’t been translated into English yet.

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