Curl your quotes, decode your dots and dashes. Proper punctuation marks give your documents professional polish. Straight quotation marks (primes) and three dots in place of an ellipsis may be acceptable for word processing, term papers, and email but not for desktop publishing and typeset material.
These step-by-step tutorials show how to get proper typographical punctuation marks and offer tips on fine-tuning the characters that are in most fonts.
How to Type Quotes, Apostrophes, and Primes
Avoid the look of an amateur by properly using typographer’s quotation marks (curly quotes) and apostrophes and primes in your desktop published documents.
How to Create and Use Dashes and Hyphens
One mark of professionally set type is the proper use of hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. Each is a different size and has its own usage.
How to Create an Ellipsis
Elliptical periods, more commonly called an ellipsis, indicate the omission of text or an interruption or hesitation.
Beyond the grammatically correct use of these common punctuation marks, typography calls for using the appropriate typographical versions of each character and adjusting them for best appearance. Attention to shape, size, and spacing sets professionally typeset material apart from typing and word processing.
The degree of fine-tuning is up to the individual designer and the requirements of the client; but, headlines and other display size text almost always benefit from careful attention to detail.
The Bottom Line: For typeset material, use typographer's marks and adjust the spacing for best visual appearance and professional polish. For typing or word processing, such as manuscripts, term papers, email, and for most Web pages, such detailed typographic standards are generally not necessary.
"Right and wrong do not exist in graphic design. There is only effective and non-effective communication." — Peter Bilak - Illegibility