Setting spaces

Hello, would you consider it to be “bad form” to set spaces with nicks up?

Would the subconscious habit of always checking be beneficial and even become more efficient than letting spaces go “upside down”?

Just always wondered. Thanks!

Log in to reply   10 replies so far

What’s the purpose? I’ve always put mine down. But I guess up would be fine. Don’t know?

Maybe, it makes distribution post job easier?

What do I know !

But as a Trained Typesetter (Hand) is Switzerland we always
set Type with Nicks lined up as to feel if a Nick was out of Place with the Nail of the Thumb as that indicated a different size

I assume we are all setting type in the stick, upside down and backwards. Then all the nicks are up. If we have an upside-down letter it is immediately apparent because its nick will be down. If we set the spaces with the nicks down, then we won’t immediately know whether a piece with its nick down is an upside down letter or a space. That is a disadvantage to my way of thinking.

By the way, to distribute type, I was taught (in my family printing firm many moons ago), to grasp as many characters as I could easily hold between my thumb and forefinger, in the order that the words are normally spelled starting at my fingertips. Then, moving my hand over the correct compartments in the case, slowly open up my fingers starting at the fingertips and drop each character and space in the correct place. Once you get the “hang” of it, you can distribute type quite fast that way.

If you look at text sizes cast on a Monotype composition caster and look very closely at the edge OPPOSITE the nicked edge, you may in quite a few cases find a tint tiny ridge. its very small, you may need a glass, esp. if of the senior generation!, Not every caster mould had this feature,
and maybe it was UK only.
This, in unleaded solid matter, interlocks with the nicks in the line above and prevents that dreaded problem ”rising spaces.” If have this stuff in your case and set the spaces ‘upside down’ this neat little trick doesn’t work.

Not all the spaces in my cases have got nicks, some foundries did cast them without any nicks. I don’t pay attention to where the nicks go when I typeset anyway…

Thanks for the info! I guess the correlating question is would (some?) spaces have a correct top vs. bottom? (foot vs. face)?

Those of us who take pride in our comping set spaces ‘foot down’ so that the smooth surface is uppermost. There’s no good reason for this, apart from the fact that the page of set type (not the printed page) looks better this way and shows others that you care about such things.

In the industry, this practice, adopted by a small minority of comps, was frowned upon by management as it slowed down the composition rate; however, once adopted, it is difficult to set in any other way, and with practice takes very little more time than setting spaces ‘as they come’ out of the case.

When correcting a line theres so often a fiddle with the thinnest spaces, so Stephenson Blake Limited cast a little projecting tab to provide something for your tweezers to get a hold of - other foundries perhaps also. You loose this if in the line foot up.

I’ve always set my spaces the same as characters. I never heard of doing it any differently… but I suppose it would make little difference.