Why Venice invented italics … you can use that trick in Microsoft Word.

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Back in the 16th Century, italic fonts were invented and that trick can still be used today in Microsoft Word.  Italics let you fit more text into the same space.

An innovative Venetian publisher, Manutius, needed to make small and affordable books.  Paper was expensive so anything that put more text on the page was good for business.

Enter the slanted italic font or ‘aldino’ as Manutius called it.

Italic fonts are tighter horizontally.  More letters fit into a line compared to the same text in the same font, just Normal or upright.

Italics fit more into documents or headings

Even in modern publishing, this 500 year-old trick has a place especially in Word and PowerPoint.

When you need just a little more space to fit a heading or title, try switching to italics.

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Instead of lowering the font size, switching to italics can be enough to make room for text in a single line or heading.

Same text in more pages – sometimes

Switching to italics might, might, use less pages in a long document. That’s what the canny Manutius did.

We tried switching from normal to italics on some large documents with common Office fonts like Calibri, Tahoma, Book Antiqua and Garamond.

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As you can see, the width difference between Normal and Italics vary. Tahoma italic is slightly wider.

Serif fonts like Book Antiqua and Garamond use less horizontal space with italics.

We’re inspired by a BBC article on Venice: the city that launched the publishing industry and our article on Drop Caps following a trip to Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum.

 


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