In typography, leading (also referred to as line spacing) is the vertical distance between lines of type. The term ‘leading’ comes from the days when type was set by hand and strips of lead were inserted between the lines of type to determine the vertical space. This week I have been reminded how important the appropriate use of leading is in blocks of text. I am currently reading two books whose approach to leading is extreme. One is a re-issued re-packaged fiction book, where the leading is set so tight it is uncomfortable to read, despite the fact that it’s a great book by an author I admire. The other is a nonfiction book where the leading is so airy that, while the content of the book is really quite informative, as I read the text I can’t help thinking that it lacks substance and has been overly line-spaced to meet the criteria of a certain number of pages to justify the price.

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