Having fun with widows

It's amazing the little details your mind sometimes fixates upon when you're deeply into an intense coding phase. I'm currently building a news aggregator interface, and just can't make a seemingly trivial decision regarding headline typography.

The issue is all about widows - single words that appear on their own when text wraps onto multiple lines. Design-wise, these are bad. So I've been using the rather nifty typogrify extension to Django that makes it very simple to replace the final space in a block of dynamic text with a " " so you don't need to worry about the final word wrapping onto its own line.

Fantastic, very straightforward, on to next thing. But, I simply cannot decide whether I should be doing this for headlines. The homepage of my app has 3 columns of imported feed content, with the most recent headline in quite large type. Depending on the headline content, the widow filter sometimes makes an obvious change to how the headline is rendered. The problem is, the relatively narrow column width means that it can often make the penultimate headline row seem a bit small.

For instance, the following before/after shows a pretty standard headline both with and without widow filtering:


widow
widow
no widow
No widow


This one seems pretty cut and dried, the widowless headline looks better and is easier to read. But problems occur with this kind of example:


widow
widow
no widow
No widow


To me, its not obvious which one of these headlines is easier to read. If I had a choice, I'd maybe go with the widow version. But this is all dynamic text, so I need to choose whether to run ALL headlines through the widow filter or not.

Currently, I am keeping the widow filter on. But I reserve the right to change my mind about five times a day before this thing is finished.

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