Pro Tips for Quality Typography
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- Em, En, and Thin spaces An em space is a blank space equal in width to the point size of the type (with 11 point type, the blank space is 11 points wide). The em space is usually a paragraph indention. An En space is half as wide as the Em, may be different in digital fonts, and may vary in different page layout applications. The Thin space was always the width of a period or comma, but may be different in digital fonts, and may vary in different page layout applications. The Em, En, and Thin spaces are used to align figures in tabular matter.
- ITALIC CAPS should never be used in quality typography.
- Em Dash (—) is used within a sentence to terminate one thought and go on to a new thought. The correct use of an em dash is to have it closed up to the words on both sides . . . but in digital fonts some em dashes are much too long, so spaces are put on either side to have a much more pleasing effect. En dashes are also used today, in place of the em dash, for the same reasons.
- En Dash (–) is used in place of an em dash (see no. 9 above) for its aesthetic look. An en dash is also used when separating two figures; i.e., 1–3:30 p.m. Another use is a substitute for the word 'thru' when designating time in words; i.e., Monday–Thursday.
- Hyphen (-) is used to break words at the end of a line, and also to join the parts of a compound word. Hyphenating three lines in a row is not good typography. In wide measures, a hyphenated word at the end of the line should have at least three characters before the hyphen; in narrow measures and in justified copy, there may be only two characters before the hyphen. In compound words, if the first word has one syllable, the hyphen can be eliminated. . . . BUT do not eliminate the hyphen if the hyphen comes between two vowels (re-evaluate vs. reevaluate). See number 74 in
Common English Confusion.
- Apostrophes have two uses . . . showing possession . . . and
indicating contractions (the omission of words or figures). For instance, don’t (do not) or I’ve (I have). When indicating a date, use an apostrophe with the numbers (’92). For singular possession, use ’s and when a plural word ends in s, the plural is s’ (s’s is sometimes used, but is really not correct).
- Measurements. Always put the width (horizontal measurement) first when composing ads, pages, envelopes,etc. and the height (vertical measurement) last . . . an ad could be 8x10 or 10x8, 10x14 or 14x10.
- Fake Italic. If italic is not available in a certain font, you can fake it by leaning the roman version 12 degrees.