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Macro-Typography of Deeds: 2

Headings and Margins

Even if you are only transcribing a single document, choose headings that would potentially help a user find their way among a large number of documents: your collection may grow later.

For a collection of wills from disparate sources, five elements are likely to be important enough to go into the main heading: the name of the testator, the person's abode, the document type (e.g. will), the validation date and the jurisdiction. These headings, as in the example, should use a modern spelling and dating system so they can be re-purposed for use in a table of contents or searchable index. Personal names should be converted from Latin to vernacular forms (for English names, use Judith Werner's names list, and see the related links there).

It should be plain to readers from the larger font size and colour that any headings provided by the editor in the online version were not present in the original document.

Sub-headings, which may have to be enclosed in square brackets to make clear they are not original material, should pick out whatever structural features recur in different examples of the chosen type of manuscript. Most wills, for example, contain at the very least a signature and are witnessed as demonstrated in an example where a reader who does not know German will be grateful for the guidance the sub-headings provide.

In English-speaking lands, the testator must also appoint some person as the executor and it is usually appropriate to label this section too. Note how three such sub-headings bring a fresh sense of order to an earlier example.

These sub-headings not only help to break up the text, marking it off into sections, but can also provide sorting criteria for small computer programs that operate within the user's browser program (client-side scripts). Documents marked up this way can easily yield up information to indexers as well.

That is why it is useful to always include the date of signature in the Signature heading, even though the date may be stated elsewhere in the document in text form, such as in the preamble. I have used the International Standards Organization (ISO) format for dates (see explanation by Kuhn) not only because this sidesteps a source of conflict between American and British readers, but also because the year-first order allows simple left-to-right sorting.

The layout recommended here for wills is a simple one that allows several transcripts to be presented on one web page. A border or background— I chose a grey underlay— helps to mark off each document. This has been demonstrated in the examples so far. All that is needed is to enclose the entire will between <DIV> tags, to then give this DIV a class name, and to finally prescribe it some styles, for example: .deed {
background-color: #dddddd;
margin: 0px 15% 10px 15%;
padding: 1px 2% 15px 3%;}

Remember that the CSS shorthand for multiple margins and padding usually consists of four items starting from the top, like a clock, and sweeping around, like a clock hand, in the order right, bottom, left. So in the above example, the block has these margins: top 0px, right 15%, bottom 10px, left 15%.

Generous white space to the left and right sharply improves legibility compared to both handwritten and typewritten documents, where line lengths are generally too great for comfortable reading. Percentage units for the left and right white space ensure that the chosen structure stays in proportion horizontally when the computer window screen is resized by a user.

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Examples: • HeadingsTwo Sub-HeadingsThree Sub-HeadingsThe Core as ListSingle-Item ListExpanding TextRun-In HeadingsCompilationVariation