I have noticed paragraphs that look visually consistent can seem more appealing on the page. I have noticed this when reading others' writing and when reading my own.

It often occurs when each paragraph is of a similar number of lines, or, when the number of lines in each paragraph forms a subtle, visually appealing pattern when glancing at the page. (It also helps when the last line of each paragraph is complete or nearly complete - i.e. not finishing with just one or two words on the new line).

Is there any terminology describing this somewhat odd phenomenon?


  • I can imagine perhaps copywriters may consider the overall aesthetic of a page, and so perhaps this concept is important in the copywriting profession, however, that's speculation.
  • Yes, I feel silly asking about this (since it's implicitly an admission to being easily manipulated by a relatively unimportant aspect of written communication).
  • You're confusing different things. Ensuring you don't have a single line at the start or end of a page is called widow and orphan control or variants (see e.g. Microsoft). This is a matter of page layout and can be done with any text without modifying the content or inserting/removing paragraph breaks. Ensuring paragraphs are all the same size is a matter of writing style and must be done when a document is created.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


The terminology describing paragraph and page lengths, and the awkwardness of the last word of a paragraph on a line alone (or worse, at the top of a new page) is part of book design. Wikipedia has an good article about it. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_design

Copy editors aren’t the people who deal with this, because when they’re editing they don’t yet know how the text will look on the page. Once the book is set in type and the book design established, proofreaders will identify the problems and may adjust the text or its spacing to maintain a pleasing appearance. Isolated lines or words have catchy names—-widows and orphans.

A book like the Chicago Manual of Style covers some of the basic principles.

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