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Lesson 8: Assignment

Typographical Punctuation


Do you know when to use curly quotes, en and em dashes, and ellipses? Do you know how to create and fine-tune them in your software? In this assignment you’ll attempt to create the perfect typographical punctuation.
  1. Create a document using a variety of punctuation.
    Set up a new document in your page layout software and import the following text.
     I Was Just Looking to Buy a Bowl of Soup... 
     At the ClayWays "10th Annual Austin Empty Bowl Project" fundraiser last November I bought a great bowl, tried some delicious soup ... and I discovered local singer Idgy Vaughn. Not only did her unusual name stick in my head but her entertaining sound and lyrics made me want to find out more ... . Her debut album, Origin Story, is available now and is on my must-buy list. Even though Idgy was born in Missouri the Houston Chronicle said of her debut CD and voice that she has "a hint of a twang that sounds like Texas." {Paragraph}
     I'm planning to go see Idgy at Hill's Cafe on January 11th. The concert starts at 7pm and is free to the public. Hill's Cafe -- a 56-year old Austin landmark located at 4700 South Congress Avenue -- has a reputation for serving a mean chicken fried steak and hosting some of the biggest names in Texas Country Music. Hill's Cafe is open Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday, 11am-10:30pm, and Sunday, 11am-9pm. For more information call 512-851-9300. 
    (Note: Written by my daughter, I’ve edited the above text to include a few ellipses and more dashes than her original text. Blame me for any grammatical oddities.)

  2. Curl and uncurl your quotes.
    Does your software automatically convert " and ' to typographer’s marks? If so, do you know how to turn it on and off? Make sure you know how to do it. Turn off the automatic conversion and use the keystrokes described on page 2 of this lesson to manually change the quotes.

  3. Mix up your dashes.
    Convert all the plain hyphens in the text to the appropriate style of dash as described on page 3 of this lesson. Do the em dashes look too long or too short? Experiment with putting spaces before and after them or leaving the spaces out. Change just the dashes to a different font or font size to see how it affects the overall appearance of the text.

  4. Experiment with ellipsis creation.
    Try all the methods for ellipses described on page 4 of this lesson. Refer to your software documentation to learn how to create thin spaces and non-breaking spaces. Do some ellipsis styles look better than others? Does it look better to use a different method for the ellisis in the headline than for the ones in the text? Where the ellipsis is followed by a period, try different spacing to see what looks best to you. Change the font for all the text to see how it affects the appearance of the ellipses (and other punctuation too).
While some of the extreme fine-tuning is unnecessary for most projects, it is good to know how to do it for those occasions when just a smidgen more or less space greatly improves the overall look of the page. Get in the habit of always trying some of the fine-tuning techniques anytime quotes, dashes, and ellipses appear in headlines and subheads.

Want to share your typographical punctuation efforts with the rest of us? Log into the DTP Classroom and attach a screen shot or a PDF of your experiments with quotes, dashes, and ellipses. Tell us what you think. Is this much attention to detail too much?

The next lesson in this series deals with breaking out of the box — overused frames, boxes, and page borders.

Found this page by accident? This is one of 12 lessons delivered as part of the Rules of Desktop Publishing free email class.


Quotable Design

“Right and wrong do not exist in graphic design. There is only effective and non-effective communication.”
— Peter Bilak - Illegibility
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