portavo II

An interesteing job I did a few years ago for a small 'boutique' imprint. Books are always interesting by their very nature but this also involved a bit of detective work with a ruler an old Linotype Catalogue.

Peter Carr, the Author, attended a class I took in Quark Xpress/Publishing in BIFHE a while back. He not only writes but publishes, edits and distributes his books and other selected work through his own publishing house, Whiterow Press. Not happy with all that he decided to cut out yet another middle man i.e. the Graphic Designer and typeset & design the books as well. This explained his interest in the course.

portavo front cover

Anyway, long after the course was completed I got a call, could I help out with the new book, Portavo Part II. He was going to have a go styling up the copy but wondered if I'd do the design, layout the masters and style sheets. The only trouble was it had to be identical to Part I, in every way. I hadn't access to the original files but got a hold of the Portavo I and set about with a pencil, ruler and a copy of an old Linotype Catalogue.

portavo chapter 23 start

First thing was to identify the fonts. After working for 6 years entirely in TImes New Roman, the 'body type' was fairly straight forward. The 'chapter starts' weren't too difficult either. They sort of had a foot in both camps, neither overly ornate but not entirely straight. Most fonts have a few 'tells' that make them easily identifiable. The 'b' in 'brooms' was a good give away. Blown up it is quite unusual/distinctive and a quick check established it as Optima. It's one of those fonts that have gone completely out of fashion lately but is quite versatile and looks good both in body and display.

detail of Optima

The title font was a bit more tricky. It's a rather grand, classical display font, all in caps. The tapering 'P' that didn't quite meet the stem was a clue. It took about 15 minutes and a few web searches to pin it down as Trajan Pro. Co-inceidently it seems Optima was also based on the ancient inscription.

detail of Trajan Pro

A ruler and an old type guide identified the point sizes and leading, drops to headings, margins, para indents, side bars, image runarounds etc.

Books are also interesting to put together because you get to utilise parts of the software package that usually lie gathering dust. Quark Xpress has a fantastic 'Book' function. Chapters can be set up, worked on simultaneously by diffferent users, contents & indexes updated automatically.

A note to anyone writing a book using Microsoft Word or any other dedicated word processing package. USE STYLE SHEETS! Even in their most basic form. Set up these very simple styles, 'Titles', 'Headings','Sub-heads' 'Body' & 'Captions". Apply them rigorously. When it comes to flowing the text through Quark or InDesign the style sheets can be pulled through, amended to suit the new style/design for the finished book and applied within minutes. This will save days of work scrolling through pages, highlighting text and applying a style sheet.

Written on: February 02 2010
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A ruler and an old type guide identified the drops to headings, margins, para indents, side bars, image runarounds

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