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Not to be confused with Masonic Widows and Orphans Home.
A widowed line: the last line of a paragraph, all alone on the other side of a page break.

At the end of the first paragraph, the word "lorem" is an orphan in the second sense: a very short final line that, because the rest of its line is white, creates an impression of two lines of whitespace between the paragraphs.

In typesetting, widows and orphans are words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. There is some disagreement about the definitions of widow and orphan; what one source calls a widow another calls an orphan.[1][2] The Chicago Manual of Style uses these definitions:[2]

Widow
  • A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text.
Orphan
  • A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page or column.
  • A word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Remembering the terms[edit]

A common mnemonic is "An orphan has no past; a widow has no future"[3] or "An orphan is left behind, whereas a widow must go on alone".

Another way to think is that orphaned lines appear at the "birth" (start) of paragraphs; widowed lines appear at the "death" (end) of paragraphs.

Alternately, here's one more mnemonic device: "An orphan is alone from the beginning; a widow is alone at the end."

Guidelines[edit]

Writing guides, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, generally suggest that a manuscript should have no widows and orphans even if the result of avoiding them is additional space at the bottom of a page or column.[4] However, in its 16th edition (2011) the Chicago Manual of Style suggests a new convention in which pages may end with the first line of a new paragraph.[5] Some techniques for eliminating widows include:

  • Forcing a page break early, producing a shorter page;
  • Adjusting the leading, the space between lines of text (although such carding or feathering is usually frowned upon);
  • Adjusting the spacing between words to produce 'tighter' or 'looser' paragraphs;
  • Adjusting the hyphenation of words or characters within the paragraph;
  • Adjusting the page's margins;
  • Subtle scaling of the page, though too much non-uniform scaling can visibly distort the letters;
  • Rewriting a portion of the paragraph;
  • Reduce the tracking of the words;
  • Adding a pull quote to the text (more common for magazines); and
  • Adding a figure to the text, or resizing an existing figure.

An orphan is cured more easily, by inserting a blank line or forcing a page break to push the orphan line onto the next page to be with the rest of its paragraph. Such a cure may have to be undone if editing the text repositions the automatic page or column break.

Similarly, a single orphaned word at the end of a paragraph can be cured by forcing one or more words from the preceding line into the orphan's line. In web-publishing, this is typically accomplished by concatenating the words in question with a non-breaking space and, if available, by utilizing the orphans: and widows: attributes in Cascading Style Sheets. Sometimes it can also be useful to add non-breaking spaces to the first two (or few) short words of a paragraph to avoid that a single orphaned word is placed to the left or right of a picture or table, while the remainder of the text (with longer words) would only appear after the table.

Most full-featured word processors and page layout applications include a paragraph setting (or option) to automatically prevent widows and orphans. When the option is turned on, an orphan is forced to the top of the next page or column; and the line preceding a widow is forced to the next page or column with the last line.

In technical writing where a single source may be published in multiple formats, and now in HTML5 with the expectation of viewing content at different sizes or resolutions, use the word processor settings that automatically prevent widows and orphans. Manual overrides like inserted empty lines or extra spaces can cause unexpected white space in the middle of pages.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carter, Rob A widowed line, highlighted in yellow. Day, Ben. Meggs, Philip. Typographic Design: Form and Communication 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons: 1993. p. 263
  2. ^ a b Chicago Manual of Style
  3. ^ Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style. 3rd ed. Hartley and Marks Publishers: 2004. pp. 43-44 ISBN 0-88179-206-3
  4. ^ Chicago Manual of Style, 3.11 Overall appearance: "A page should not begin with the last line of a paragraph unless it is full measure and should not end with the first line of a new paragraph."
  5. ^ Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, 2.113: "A page should not begin with the last line of a paragraph unless it is full measure. (A page can, however, end with the first line of a new paragraph.)"

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widows_and_orphans — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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Leadership Newspapers
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:43:25 -0800

... presenting the food items to the widows in the various homes visited, chairman of the club, Ejimonye Isaac said the club sees Christmas and New year celebrations as period of sharing love with the needy and decided to cater for the widows and orphans.
 
AllAfrica.com
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:26:15 -0800

Also, it is a day that the church dedicates to reach out to the less privileged especially the widows and orphans for succor. As always, this set of people in their hundreds were drawn from Jos in Plateau State, Maiduguri, Borno State, Abia, and some ...

Daily Sun

Daily Sun
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 01:55:08 -0800

Princess Chinwe Nnabuife has passion for the less privileged, especially widows and orphans. According to the chairperson of Jesus for Life International Women Ministry, a faith-based, non-profit organisation, focused on poverty reduction through the ...
 
AllAfrica.com
Mon, 01 Dec 2014 19:31:10 -0800

Suleiman said the group always gives portion of the relief materials meant for internally displaced persons so that the widows and orphans under the care of the association are equally assisted. She added the association also takes care of the ...
 
Washington Post
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:33:28 -0800

For most of recorded history, Isis was an Egyptian goddess, a benevolent type who cared for widows and orphans, cured the sick and even brought the dead back to life. This year, the world met the other ISIS. The rise of the so-called Islamic State ...
 
AllAfrica.com
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:15:00 -0800

Gowelo then advised chiefs to have the interest of the vulnerable such as widows and orphans when administering justice on land cases. Addressing the newly installed Sub-Traditional Authority Mkutumula, the minister advised the chief to demonstrate ...

Nigerian Tribune

Nigerian Tribune
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:40:22 -0800

President of the foundation, Mrs Jumai Ahmadu, disclosed that no fewer than 410 widows and orphans benefitted from the recent reach-out programmes organised by the organisation ahead Christmas and New Year celebrations. According to her, besides ...

Shreveport Times

Shreveport Times
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:13:52 -0800

"I bought a beautiful bracelet and necklace from Widows and Orphans, which uses repurposed rosaries and other jewelry to make stunningly unique jewelry. I also bought a wood-carved wine stopper for a friend, and a couple of other things I can't remember.
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