As someone who looks at things for a living, I’m always looking at the printed page—any printed page. It can be entertaining, or a real curse. 

Leading example

Can you spot the leading mistakes?

If you work in design or production, you know how it goes… Can you eat at a restaurant where the menu was typeset in Zapf Chancery? Have to ignore the banding on a badly digitally printed menu? Stand at a bus stop and tune out badly kerned outdoor signs?

One friend remarks wryly that our dates usually consist of dinner, a movie, and a typeface critique. Argh, guilty as charged! The well-trained eagle eyeball never takes a holiday.

So as I perused my junk mail over lunch yesterday, I got that slightly dissonant feeling: What was wrong with this cover story? Oh yeah, inconsistent leading. I felt a twinge of sympathy for the designer, who probably saw it the minute his printed samples were delivered. For some reason it’s such an easy thing to miss at proof stage, but jumps right off the printed page. 

Disaster avoidance tip

Here’s a trick for catching leading errors. When you’re reviewing proofs (preferably not over lunch), turn the page sideways and squint at it through your eyelashes until you’re aware of positive and negative space rather than characters. Any differences in leading will stand out more this way than when you look at the page right-side up.

And is it just me, or does the leading in this post look wonky?