[LMB] OT: smart apostrophes in Word

Mark A. Mandel thnidu at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 30 05:02:17 BST 2007

----- Original Message ----
From: Peter H. Granzeau <pgranzeau at cox.net>

Quotes (single or double) are interesting.  Most of the time, the 
begin quote is a mirror image of the end quote, but some exotic fonts 
use an upside down end quote, with the dot at the bottom and the tail 
going up from the left toward the right.

Normal:                    exotic:

xxx                                 x
xxx                               x
  x                                xxx
    x                            xxx


That's not so exotic, it's traditional, it's consistent with the rest of the font, and it's (dare I say it) more beautiful... IMHO. It comes from the calligraphic -- well, scribal -- origins of Roman alphabetic writing. Look at any classic font like the Times New Roman some of us have been mentioning, in a really big size, say 36pt or larger, and compare the thicknesses of diagonal strokes -- say, in 
. (I'm typing this in Times New Roman, with that example line and the example below in 36 point type.) The strokes from upper left to lower right (NW-SE) are much thicker than the strokes from upper right to lower left (NE-SW). That's because the pen had a broad flat tip, which in the right hand makes its mark slanted counterclockwise of the horizontal, producing a thin line when moving NE-SW or SW-NE, and a very thick one moving NW-SE. (If you try to move it SE-NW it produces a godawful splatter of ink and may tear the paper as well.)

Now look at those quotation marks:


They're thick where the flat nib is moving NW-SE and thin where it's moving NE-SW. And that's why.

Mark Mandel
   aka Dr. Whom, Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological Busybody
   who got his first job on the basis of familiarity with Speedball pens

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