Typesetting Standards

Scribe’s default typography standards are based primarily on the Chicago Manual of Style. Standards can be adjusted based on the needs of a particular book. Additional standards support the use of Scribe Tools for InDesign and best practices for producing files within the WFDW. Scribe's typography standards are intended to support best practices in creating files that are visually appealing, enhancing the reader's experience and comprehension while reducing distractions.

Short Lines

The text of the last line of a paragraph should run longer than the indent of the following paragraph. Short lines can consist of a single short word, two or more short words, or the final fragment of a url that is breaking over a line.

Widows and Orphans

  • orphan: The first or last line of a paragraph, when it appears alone on a page.
  • widow: A word or short last line of a paragraph, appearing by itself at the beginning of the following page or column.

No widows or orphans are allowed. At least two lines of text should appear on each page if a paragraph crosses a page break.

Bad Breaks

Word Breaks

No word may break across any page.

Hyphenated words should only break directly after the existing hyphen.

Words connected to an em or en dash should only break after that dash.

Words connected to an ellipsis should not hyphenate.

A minimum of three letters is required before and after a hyphen.

Compound words should break at root words when possible.

URL Breaks

Never break URLs with a hyphen.

Break URLs:

  • After a slash.
  • Before any other punctuation, including periods, commas, question marks, exclamation points, hyphens, @ symbols, and semi-colons.
  • Between long strings of letters or numbers.

Avoid breaking a URL across a page whenever possible.

If an email address must break across a line, follow the URL breaking rules.

Stacks and Rivers

  • stack: Letters, words, or punctuation appearing directly above/below one another.
  • river: A gap that flows between words for at least three lines.

Avoid word stacks of two words, three letters, or three punctuation marks.

Avoid rivers.


Start a footnote on the page that references it. If possible, place the footnote in its entirety on the referencing page.

Documents should not have footnotes in tables, as InDesign cannot support this feature for automated footnotes.

Heads and Titles

Keep at least two lines of text following a head at the bottom of a page.

Break heads and titles evenly or at a sensible point, such as a punctuation mark or beginning/end of a complete phrase.

Avoid hyphenating words in heads and titles.

Leading and Text Crashes

Leading should be appropriate based on text size. The leading should be larger than the font size (e.g. 10/12 or 11/13).

Text should not crash (intersect) with other text, either vertically or horizontally.


For standard body paragraphs, tracking should be set to zero.

Do not adjust tracking to be looser than +20 or tighter than -20. (Depending on the font and design, +15 or -15 may be more appropriate limits.)

The total difference between adjacent lines should never be more than 30.



Illustrations, maps, photographs, and other art should be provided in a standard electronic format (TIFF, EPS, JPEG) at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi (600 dpi is preferred).


All cropping should be done in a graphics program (e.g., Photoshop).


Absent specific instruction, images should be placed at the top or bottom of a page, as near to the in-text reference as possible, after that reference.

Text Wrap

For books with runaround, text wrap around images should be set at half the size of the leading of the base paragraph style.


Absent specific instruction, tables should be placed at the top or bottom of a page, as near to the in-text reference as possible, after that reference.

Tables should not break across pages unless they cannot fit on a single page.

Columns that only contain numbers should center on the longest line and align on the decimal point.


Initials should be kept together on the same line.

Keep middle initials with the first name whenever possible.

If there is only a first initial, keep it connected to the following name.

PDF Output

Follow the printer's specifications when outputting PDFs at all stages.

If a printer has not yet been determined, output with PDF/X-1a, no crop marks.


Spreads should align at the top and bottom.

Multiple columns should end evenly on individual pages and across the spread.

Pages can be run one line short or long to align spreads.

Pages can end short if necessary when the following page begins with a head.

Do not follow a short spread with a long spread; do not follow a long spread with a short spread.

Any page containing body paragraphs should contain a minimum of 5 lines.

Master Pages and Running Heads

Master pages should be set up to include all design elements that do not get retained in an e-book, including running heads, decorative images, and drop folios.

Create running heads using text variables whenever possible.

Running heads should be book title/chapter title for single author books or chapter author/chapter title for books with multiple authors.

Use the [None] master page for any page that is completely blank.

Local Overrides

Manual overrides can only be used for print-only changes such as tracking/kerning, justification, and tab locations.

Do not use manual overrides for:

  • Global changes
  • Any character rendering
  • Space above or below
  • Special paragraph alignment

Print-Specific Characters

A soft return must retain the space before it if occurring between words.

Thin spaces, hair spaces, and any other typeset-only spaces must use the tso character style.

Customized kerning/tracking can be applied using tsnomap. This style will not map out to XML, but the text will be retained.

Use the discretionary hyphen character to customize breaks in words.

If a typed hyphen is necessary to force a break, use the tso character style on the hyphen.

Forced breaks should be run up to the end of the previous paragraph. Page breaks should not be the only item on a page or exist as a separate paragraph.