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Using Hanging Punctuation

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Examples of Hanging Punctuation
Hanging Punctuation examples

Hanging punctuation hangs the quote marks outside the text edge in the bottom example. Text is fully justified with hanging punctuation on left and right. Blue represents area outside the text frame.

© J. Bear
Attention to typographic detail is one aspect of design that separates the amateurs from the pros. Today's software makes some of these details of typography easier than ever to accomplish. Hanging punctuation, commonly used for pull-quotes, creates the illusion of a uniform edge for the text, with the punctuation outside the margins. It's also called optical alignment or hung punctuation.

Beyond punctuation, optical margin adjustments may be used to make subtle shifts to allow for the shapes of letters and serifs, such as extending the edge of initial caps outside the outer margin.

There are no hard and fast rules on when you should or shouldn't use hanging punctuation. It is common for bullet lists, pull-quotes, some headlines, and other bits of quoted text but any text can benefit from its use. You can use hanging punctuation with flush-left, flush-right, or full-justified text.

  1. this page
  2. Technical Alignment Close-up Without Hanging Punctuation
  3. Optical Alignment Close-up With Hanging Punctuation
  4. Automatic Hanging Punctuation Create Hanging Punctuation Automatically
  5. Manual Hanging Punctuation When Your Software Doesn't Have Automatic Options

The quotation used in these illustrations is by Stephen B. Leacock. For more quotations on creativity see About.com Quotations.

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  7. Hanging Punctuation - How to Use Hanging Punctuation Such as for Pull-Quotes and Headlines

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