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English term for typesetting with non-rectangular shapes?

Ralf Herrmann

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How is that kind of typesetting called in English?


I only found “runaround” in several dictionaries, but this sounds like it is limited to a subset of cases, where the text actually runs around another object. 

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I don’t recall stumbling upon a specific term for this. But I think your example shows effectively two different techniques: 

  1.  Using the text to form a specific shape, like in some forms of concrete poetry (works by Lewis Carroll comes to mind). I vaguely remember (or imagine?) an old thread on Typophile on the topic. If a proper term isn’t found, I think we could appropriate “topiary”. 
  2.  Setting the type around non-rectangular shapes, for which “runaround” seems a good explanatory term.
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I don't know if it's appropriate in this case, but I've come across the expression "Text wrap" or "Text wrapping" to describe this formatting of text, inside or outside objects.

  • very interesting! 1
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By the way: in German we call it Formsatz (“shape typesetting”). I would be surprised if there is no English term, as there is a long history of this technique in letterpress. Doesn’t have to be as elaborate as in the image in the first post. It could just be a triangular ending of a paragraph and things like that. 

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