I expect I may have lost a few of you already; those who know the widows and orphans I’m talking about, and those who couldn’t give a damn. For anyone who may not have come across these words in the typographical sense before, and would like to know, let me explain.
A widow is the short last line of most paragraphs, especially one less than half the full measure. Particularly unpleasant is a widow consisting of only a single word.
In a block of display type, I advise eliminating an unwanted widow by adjusting the size of type or resetting in a different typeface. If this doesn’t work, adjust the paragraph by cutting or adding a word or two to the text.
When typesetting a book I’m not so pedantic, unless it is the last line of a paragraph that carries over to the top of the next page. This widow is nasty and should be got rid of by editing the text. If you really can’t cut anything from the paragraph, go back until you find a word or short sentence you can live without. This will pull the widow back to the bottom of the previous page, and sit at the end of the paragraph where it belongs.
An orphan is a first line separated from the rest of the paragraph by occurring at the foot of a page. Most templates avoid this happening by automatically replacing it with a line space, but watch out for it anyway. Unless you want to be accused of being ultra fussy by re-writing a previous paragraph on that page, just add a line space. The type will not come to the bottom of the page, but will look better than an orphan.
You have hopefully spent a lot of time, and probably a great deal of money, editing and perfecting your work. It is also important to ‘proof the finished galleys’. Take a little extra care and check the look of the printed words sitting on the page.