Combining space widths

Hand typesetting justified text requires the word spaces for each line of type to be close and even. The way to do this is to set your type with standard word spaces (I use thins for word spaces, but it depends on the typeface and fount) and when you come to the end of the line, instead of filling the remaining space with spaces, as you would for unjustified setting, you want to increase the width of the word spaces.

This chart is a guide for the combinations of standard spaces from thin to em. For example, if you have decided to try an en for word spaces and it is making the line too long, try the next combination down: Thin Mid. These combinations are also useful for unjustified setting for those last few spaces to get the type nice and tight in the composing stick. Sometimes there is no option but to add hair spaces to the mix.

Full credit should go to Andy Taylor of The Elrod Press. When I was starting out he printed and posted me his Ready Reckoner which was a text version of this. It was invaluable when I decided to try justified setting.

Thin

Thin

Mid

Mid

Thick

Thick

Thin Thin

Thin

Thin

Thin Mid

Thin

Mid

En

En

Thin Thick

Thin

Thick

Thin Thin Thin

Thin

Thin

Thin

Thin Thin Mid

Thin

Thin

Mid

Thick Thick

Thick

Thick

En Thin

En

Thin

Thin Thin Thick

Thin

Thin

Thick

En Mid

En

Mid

Thin Mid Thick

Thin

Mid

Thick

Thin Thin Thin Thin

Thin

Thin

Thin

Thin

En Thick

En

Thick

Thin Thin Thin Mid

Thin

Thin

Thin

Mid

Thin Thick Thick

Thin

Thick

Thick

En Thin Thin

En

Thin

Thin

Mid Thick Thick

Mid

Thick

Thick

En Thin Mid

En

Thin

Mid

Thin Thin Mid Thick

Thin

Thin

Mid

Thick

Em

Em