Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A to Z Challenge - O for Orphan

Theme - Journalism jargons
When the last line of a paragraph has just one word or the latter part of a hyphenated word, then that word is called an orphan.

From the aesthetic point of view, many journalists and designers tend to avoid it since one single word in an entire line looks odd. So usually a couple of words are added to preceding lines so that a few more words will come on to the last line.

The word 'son'
is an orphan
In the example on the right from today's Delhi edition of Hindustan Times, the word 'son' will qualify to be called an orphan. 

The word 'Himalayas', which is also one single word at the end of the paragraph, though theoretically can be called an orphan, doesn't look as bad as the word 'son'.

However, there are some people who look an orphan from another point of view. They say the increased white space in the last line left by an orphan gives relief from the grey text.

After all, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, right?

(This post is a part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2019".) 


  1. I am conversant with ‘orphan’ rule from aesthetic point and how to deal with it when I type my article in MS Word. But I never knew the subtle difference you brought out between ‘son’ and ‘ Himalayas’ and about the flexibility of the rule in the context of words that come at the end. Thank you.

  2. Hi Pradeep - I'll be back to read all your entries ... I think they'll be very interesting - and a great choice for the A-Z. I always 'tidy' up anything I write ... so orphans are not left hanging! I also don't like writing in 'Justify' mode ...

    The 'son' in the Delhi article doesn't make sense at all ... breaking the word 'season' up is to my mind silly!

    These articles will be fascinating ... cheers Hilary

  3. @ KP - Thank you!

    @ Hilary - I know it's difficult to keep pace with every blog since there is one post coming up daily. Take your time to read them. And, thanks for the kind words!

  4. Oh, I thought orphans (and widows, which I remember being linked to this term) had to do with paging. But I never really spent any time looking into it, so I'm not surprised I'm wrong.

  5. @Liz - Yes, widow is a related word. Thanks for reminding me about it. It's the same thing as an orphan. But the difference is that it appears in the first line of a column.

  6. Without knowing what orphan in news is I sometimes add something to have better look. Now only understood about it. Thank you for the information.

  7. @ Rudraprayaga - That's how it is ... sometimes we instinctively do such things without realising why we are doing it.