What Does Widows Mean?

A widow, in terms of digital or print text, is a single word or syllable that shows up alone at the bottom of a column or block of text. Because it creates a line of mostly white space at the end of a text block, it is generally frowned upon and attempts are made to avoid its appearance.


Techopedia Explains Widows

In the early days of print typesetting, these kinds of irregularities were hard to correct. Physical typesetting did not involve tools for more precise column or text block design.

Modern digital text can be easily tweaked or altered in a number of ways. When it comes to dealing with a widow, project managers can simply change fonts or font sizes, or adjust the visual size of a column or block of text. Adjusting the letting – the space between individual characters – is also an effective tool.

These strategies can create small shifts that can eliminate widows. In addition, web designers can use various tools, particularly top-level text controls in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), to create appealing, consistent layouts for browser-rendered text. This is important, since many more browsers are now competing for users, and the emergence of smartphones and mobile devices requires web designers to practice responsive design, where a layout looks appealing on any screen.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…