In typography, the setting of type in a shape in order to create the appearance of an object. On typesetting devices, it is accomplished by means of multiple line indents. A special sheet with pica and point gradations is used to calculate the value of the indents. The sheet, usually transparent, is placed over the art or shape so that all indents can be established. Newer desktop publishing programs such as QuarkXPress simplify considerably the process of setting contour type. Contour type is also referred to as runaround.
A similar way of setting type around the shape of an illustration (or a "negative" contour) is called wraparound.
Although contoured type is effective in some applications, it frequently exhibits decreased legibility, especially when the contour eliminates the straight, vertical left margin, a common reference point for the eye when reading. When the left margin is staggered, it makes the eye work harder and reading more difficult.