Thinking about typesetting

The two translations that I have commissioned are both very nearly complete.  In fact I hunger for the day when they will be entirely complete — which will probably be in a month or two.  It is remarkable how long it has all taken.

Then I need to create a book form of them both, so that I can sell copies to libraries.  This will ensure availability in that community, and perhaps recover some of the commissioning costs.

The unwary start with Microsoft Word, create a PDF and send it to a print-on-demand site like  Then they wonder why it doesn’t look right.

Part of the reason is typesetting.  By default Word does not kern text — that is, move letters like AVA together so that there isn’t a big gap between them.  It can be turned on, under font formatting.

Likewise book publishers do not rely on Times Roman, but use professional fonts like Bembo and Baskerville.

I am profoundly conscious that this is a specialised area, which I have no real desire to learn.  Surely it should be possible to hire in the skill at a reasonable price?

I’ve found a forum here of people offering their services; I suspect that many of them have limited professional skills.  Someone who did seem to know what he was doing did write to me last year, but never replied to my last email.  I must pester him again!


5 thoughts on “Thinking about typesetting

  1. The TeX typesetting system can handle the job. Contact Steve Peter for information – he’s a linguist and a member of the TeX Users Group board of directors.

    Steve Peter

    295 N Bridge St. / Somerville, NJ 08876 / USA

    Phone: +1 732 306-6309

    “Specializing in foreign language, linguistic, and technical typesetting using TeX, LaTeX, and ConTeXt, I have typeset books for Oxford University Press, Routledge, and Kluwer, and have helped numerous authors turn rough manuscripts, some with dozens of languages, into beautiful camera-ready copy. I have extensive experience in editing, proofreading, and writing documentation. I also tweak and design fonts. I have an MA in Linguistics from Harvard University and live in the New York metro area.”

  2. I know Julie D. at Happy Catholic does graphics and fonts for a living, but I’m not sure whether that’s just cover design or whether it’s typesetting.

    Ideally, though, I’d think your typesetter would be somebody who does UK English; and who lives close enough that you can drive over to his house and yell up at his windows, or buy him beer.

  3. Roger, I second the recommendation for Tex/LaTeX. I’ve only dabbled with it a little myself, but those who know what they are doing with it can produce some beautiful documents, including all the languages you’re concerned with for the project.

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