The Typographic Hub

Casting-off

25th September 2012

Casting-off was the act of using figures to solve problems relating to copy, type and materials

Casting-off was the act of using figures to solve problems relating to copy, type and materials. It was laborious and the results obtained were only approximate. There were many methods of casting-off by which the printer could ascertain:

  • Number of lines or pages a given amount of copy would make
  • The amount of type contained in a given space
  • The most suitable size of type for use in a pre-determined area
  • Number of pages the copy would make set in different type sizes
  • Number of words needed to fill a given space
  • The amount of type or lead needed to produce a piece of work.

There were many problems with casting-off: the biggest was language. Words are made up of different numbers of characters and authors’ blended mono- and polysyllables so variously that it was difficult to establish an average number of characters per word. Difficulties also occurred when type departed from the standard width of 13 ems of its own body and when a large size of type was set to a narrow measure making it hard to maintain the line word-average. The printer was handicapped by the imponderable nature of the elements with which he had to deal. However, casting-off was used to approximate not define the space copy might make.