By Que on Jan 1, 2022 at 9:25 PM
  1. Que

    Que Member

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    Formatting Poetry for Long Lines

    Discussion in 'Articles' started by Que, Jan 1, 2022.

    The layout of printed books is fixed so the number of words and their arrangement on a page are the same for every reader: same font, same font size, same margins. But the layout of an e-book is fluid so that text and graphics can be adjusted to fit the available screen space and user preferences. The result is that the number of words and their arrangement on a screen might not be the same for each reader.

    This fluid layout has little effect on prose but can cause problems for poetry. The one that poets are most concerned with is that some lines will wrap at the edge of a screen and continue to the next line, making a line you intended to be one line become two lines. You could avoid that problem by not crafting poems with long lines, of course, because where and how lines break matter less than where and how a poem touches the hearts and minds of your readers, but here is what they’ll see if your formatting does not accommodate lines that exceed the width of their screen.

    unformatted.jpeg
    And here's what your readers will see if your formatting does accommodate long lines that exceed the width of a reader's screen.
    formatted.jpeg
    The example above was accomplished with a hanging indent that wraps long lines with an indent, so readers know you intended those lines to be single lines on their screens. And it works regardless of the font size your readers select, or whether their device is in portrait or landscape.

    Microsoft Word's hanging indent is selectable. In Open Office, you can create a hanging indent style with a positive Before Text Indent and a negative First Line Indent. In the Atlantis word processor, you can create a hanging indent style with a zero Left Indent and a positive First Line Outdent. When typing your poems into your word processor, use hard returns at the end of each line. Soft returns will indent every line after the first line, not just long lines. And that will confuse readers as to which lines you intended to be single lines. Below is the result of using soft returns with a hanging indent instead of hard returns.
    soft-returns.jpeg
    After you've formatted your chapbook for long lines, put a note in the Introduction that tells readers what to expect when an end-stopped line is too long to fit on one line of their screen.

    Dear Reader.jpeg
     

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Discussion in 'Articles' started by Que, Jan 1, 2022.

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