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Re: Groff vs Heirloom troff (was Re: Quick question: how to do .index in

From: Steve Izma
Subject: Re: Groff vs Heirloom troff (was Re: Quick question: how to do .index in groff?)
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2020 23:07:42 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.10.1 (2018-07-13)

On Tue, Aug 04, 2020 at 08:20:54PM -0500, Dave Kemper wrote:
> Subject: Re: Groff vs Heirloom troff (was Re: Quick question: how to do
>  .index in groff?)
> On 7/31/20, Steve Izma <> wrote:
> > When I adjust the kerning (or mortising, if necessary)
> > in values of one-hundredth or one-thousandth of a point,
> Everything I've found online says that mortising is another (less
> common) term for kerning, but you're using them here as if they're
> different processes.  What's the distinction between them?

In the 1980s, based on hearsay, I started to distinguish between
positive and negative letterspacing with "mortising" and
"kerning". Prior to that, I was in the habit of just using
"kerning". This was at the point that about six of us around the
University of Waterloo started up Mortice Kern Systems (which
became MKS Inc.), supposedly to develope a typesetting system
(we never did).

But, prompted by your message, I tried to find other references
to it, to no avail. I regard Robert Bringhurst as the expert in
the history and theory of these things and he appears not to use
the term "mortising", using "letterspacing" in such cases, and he
seems to restrict the use to slight increases of letterspacing to
words set in small caps. He also seems to restrict the idea of
kerning to letterfitting, i.e., only between pairs of letters and
almost always as a negative value. He's fairly explicit about
considering any kind of track kerning to be poor typography. But
I don't thing that's a practical position in my work. Bringhurst
has extremely good ideas about "rhythm and proportion" and
"harmony and contrast" in the appearance of a page and how this
affects readability. I think one can maintain these principles
with careful attention to track kerning across a paragraph (and,
of course, sometimes across a page). In a production situation,
where the typographer is often under pressure to produce pages
quickly, I think track kerning (or mortising) is an essential
tool, but you always need to look closely at the results.

        -- Steve

Steve Izma
Home: 35 Locust St., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada  N2H 1W6
E-mail:  phone: 519-745-1313
cell (text only; not frequently checked): 519-998-2684

I have always felt the necessity to verify what to many seemed a
simple multiplication table.
        -- Ilya Ehrenburg (Soviet author and critic; he's not
           talking about mathematics)

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