Hand-printed books of poetry,
Plus tips and supplies for fellow letterpress printers.

Composition: Setting Type

The compositor selects the letters he needs (left) and arranges them, a few lines at a time, in a composing stick (right) which has a ledge at the bottom for it to sit on. Notice that the type is set upside down.

Letterpress Composing Stick Letterpress Spacing

Now the compositor adds extra spacing either between the words, or just at the end of each line, so everything fits snugly in the stick. The type needs to be justified so that all the lines are the same length, otherwise it won't lock-up firmly and might fall out of place.

Spacing looks a bit like blank-ended type, but it's made shorter than type so that it won't leave a mark on the paper. It comes in several widths, as shown right, and there are some really thin things called hair spaces which are used for subtle fine tuning.

When the stick is full, the compositor transfers those lines into a metal galley (which looks a bit like a baking tray) and adds more until the page is complete.

You Might Also Like...