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Bad Typesetting

While I’m on the subject of writing, I thought I’d sneak in a note about typesetting. I’m a closet typesetting geek; you probably have to be to care about whether to use an en-dash or a plain dash to separate ranges of numbers, for example. In case you’re wondering: use an en-dash—the difference is appreciable.

There are some beautifully typeset books (TAOCP, for instance) and some really atrocious ones. One of the worst offenders is Just For Fun; Linus Torvalds’ autobiography. Its constant changing of fonts, font weights and styles appears to be the work of a rabid monkey on acid rather than an actual human typesetter. It’s headache-inducing at best, and very nearly made me put the book down and not finishing it.

Now, what this typesetting did manage was to make me remember the book. Unfortunately the only thing I can remember is that the typesetting was excruciatingly bad. From this I infer that the content wasn’t all that great, but that’s a blog post for another time.

I don’t quite know what came over me, I just needed to get this rant off my chest. My usual happy & chirpy tone will resume shortly.