Typographer's Quotes

cosmorphis's picture

I am a young adjunct professor at a community college, and today I was telling my class about the importance of using curly quotes or typographer's quotes. Well, one of my students said that she was told by a 'prestige designer' to always flip the quotes so the heavy sides are on top. Then another student said she was told to flip the quotes so the heavy sides are on the bottom. I have looked through my books and searched the internet for an answer because I have never heard this before. Is there any truth in what they are saying? I would appreciate any input on this because it is mind boggling. I've attached a GIF to demonstrate what they are referring to.

cosmorphis's picture

There's the attachment.

Miss Tiffany's picture

The "prestigious designer" is filling your students head with lies. The default way is the correct way.

(for those of you who saw my awful spelling mistake it is late and i'm tired.)

cosmorphis's picture

So this doesn't go back to any ancient tradition or anything correct? I'm just confused as of why he would make up something so bizarre.

dave bailey's picture

I've never heard anything of the sort, Tiff is right.

ben_archer's picture

Hi Billy

Nothing quite so mind-boggling as students using 'prestigious' but anonymous sources to introduce confusion and doubt into the classroom? It happens all the time.

When I asked a student last year if she'd had any design tutor feedback on her (truly execrable and off-brief) work, she told me in all seriousness '...but my mum thinks it's great!'

Miss Tiffany is right; the default version above is the correct way of setting true quotes.

If your students reckon they know more about setting type correctly than you do, then you could try running Marian Bantjes type test on 'em.

It includes the following question

19. True quotes
a. always look like little sixes and nines
b. have different looking opening and closing quotes
c. are always curly
d. are straight up and down

Which, although it doesn't provide a straight answer to your question, should reveal enough of your students ignorance to allow some clarification and correction to occur.

Nick Job's picture

Verdana quotes are top heavy.

I guess you can do what you like but I find anything other than sixes and nines (or at the very least quotes which are rotationally symmetrical) look odd.

Miguel Sousa's picture

One thing to note: the default may change according to the language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark

Bald Condensed's picture

Weird -- the Dutch quotation marks presented as the "standard" in the wiki entry are in fact the archaic form.

Matt Squire's picture

Hi there,

There is a book called The elements of typorgraphic Style, which I am sure some of the regulars are aware of. On pages 86/87, Robert Bringhurst goes into detail about what quotation marks should be used when and where. I take it you are after the British/American version in which case you already have your answer. But it is interesting to know that other countries use them quite differently, SWeden for instance has them set “ “, so the same mark used twice, in Germany the first quote mark is set on the Baseline. And so on..

If you want to impress your students then digest this book. Its a good source of details to keep them quiet,

bojev's picture

We should note as Verdana shows above that some fonts only have top heavy quotes.

Grot Esqué's picture

Swedish and Finnish use the right side quotes, not the left ones.

”Jag tycker om dig, Pernilla”, sade Jakob.

”Groteskia!”, älähti Chris.

»Minkä taakseen jättää, sen edestään löytää.»

Single ones can also be used.

svenni's picture

Icelandic quotes look like this:
„Svona lítur þetta út“

dezcom's picture

I think the point is that the type designer should be relied upon to provide proper quotes as well as allowance for language differences. Good OpenType fonts with a decent character set have the needed glyphs to support language variations. The “prestigious designers” who are infallable only in their own minds, are either wrong or misquoted by young students.

ChrisL

PS: Tiff, I liked your spelling error better so I will leave mine in :-)

Si_Daniels's picture

>We should note as Verdana shows above that some fonts only have top heavy quotes.

It is written - "trust thy type designer"

dezcom's picture

Yes Si, that Mathew guy might know a thing or two about type :-)

ChrisL

elScorcho's picture

In Dutch it should be as this:

Jan zei: „Piet komt niet.”
Jan vroeg: „Komt Piet niet?”
Zei Jan: „Piet komt niet.”?
„Piet komt niet”, zei Jan.
„Komt Piet niet?”, vroeg Jan.
„Piet”, zei Jan, „komt niet.”
„Piet,” zei Jan, „je moet meteen komen.”

Vroeg Jan: „Komt Piet niet?”
Roep niet de hele tijd: „Piet komt niet!”
Jan zei: „Piet komt niet.”

(At least that's what they've taught me at school.)

jselig's picture

While you are teaching them about quotes it wouldn't be a bad idea to have them in the practice of using the key commands for single and double quotations. I know it's not as common now but sometimes the default keyboard symbol will give you incorrect quotations.

Matt Squire's picture

It might also be a good thing to teach them about when to use single and double quote marks. In my experience this always brings up great creative arguments about rules and such.

Nick Shinn's picture

Heavy-side up is the American way, from Benton (ATF Garamond) to Licko (Mrs Eaves, Filosofia, etc). No lies.

However, it will become obselete as multi-encoded OTF fonts become the norm, which have to satisfy Europeans who are not so ambivalent about their quote-mark style.

On a related note, the standard for the 'postrophe has changed thanks to "smart" layout software, which substitutes the "wrong" version.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Nick, in my version of Mrs. Eaves and Filosofia (both PS) the open quotes are heavy-down and the end-quotes are heavy-up. Did I misunderstand you?

gene ullery-smith's picture

I always assumed that the difference in open and closed quotes had its roots in calligarphic writing. That is when one draws an open quote with a nib at 45 degrees to the base line one ends up with a heavy down quote. Conversely, when draws a closed quote with the same pen the result is top heavy. Seems logical but perhaps its not factual - could any calligraphy experts shed light?

dezcom's picture

I think you are right about the cxalligraphic base but more like 30 degrees angle (depending on the writing style).

ChrisL

Giampa's picture

Typographers' quotes are "tradition". At least for the English, Canadians and, even those that say "zee" rather than "zed".

Hand set type was merely the comma(s) set "nick down" rather than "nick up". Hopefully I do not have to give a type anatomy lesson. This saved on matrices, spared room in the case for other needed characters. And frankly gives the written language a bit of extra zest.

Naturally Monotype was not so lucky. They had to cut punches for both as did Linotype.

Tradition is a "good thing".

Giampa

dezcom's picture

Even Giampa is a good thing :-)

ChrisL

Giampa's picture

Chris

"Even Giampa is a good thing :-)"

You Greeks always know how to make Italians blush!

Giampa

dezcom's picture

I'll break some dishes for you!

ChrisL

Giampa's picture

Folks,

I should point out that punches were cut for the apostrophe which made the right hand quote marks or mark (quote within a quote, English vs American bla bla). The left quote marks were upside down comma(s), (quote within a quote, English vs American bla bla)

Should I have assumed you all knew that bla bla apostraphe stuff, because I did.

Giampa

Giampa's picture

Chris,

"I’ll break some dishes for you!"

We should break some bread and drink some beer before breaking anything else such as glasses at the end of the evening.

Remember I crewed on a Greek tramp steam ship, we were stuck drinking from bottles seveal days out of harbour. Poor us.

Giampa

dezcom's picture

Gerald,
Will you be at TypeCon Boston in August?

ChrisL

Giampa's picture

Chris,

TypeCon, Type "Con". Is this a setup, is Hrant planning to beat me up? August, August what, where and when? You want to meet Joe Lyons?

Giampa

dezcom's picture

LOL!!!
I don't think Hrant can make it this year :-)

Here is the link:

TypeCon2006: http://www.typecon.com

ChrisL

PS: would Joe Lyons consider meeting me? :-)

Miss Tiffany's picture

I don't think Hrant is attending this year. Hrant?

Nick Shinn's picture

Nick, in my version of Mrs. Eaves and Filosofia (both PS) the open quotes are heavy-down and the end-quotes are heavy-up. Did I misunderstand you?

I'm going by the 2002 Emigre catalog. Maybe they've started doing it the normal way since then.

Miss Tiffany's picture

How bizarre. I'm going to have to dig through and look for that one. Thanks for pointing it out.

liquisoft's picture

Lies and idiocy.

+
Ryan Ford

Giampa's picture

Chris,

Not many know of Joe Lyons "Principia Typographia", approximately 700 pages each volume of which there are three. Too laborious for most, as a consequence, it was not a best seller.

Joe Lyons would love to meet you.
Giampa

dezcom's picture

So it is not the Prime Minister of Australia then? :-)

ChrisL

Sounds like a better read than Principia Mathematica :-)

Giampa's picture

Chris,

Bertand Russel's "Principia Mathematica" was discredited by Alfred North Whitehead even though he collaborated on "Principia Mathematica".

Foolish me, I read it even knowing it was wrong. "Principia Typographia" on the other hand is a very important work, that is, assuming typography is important. At least, that is what I tell Joe.

Giampa

cosmorphis's picture

I noticed this while having dinner.

dezcom's picture

I guess the perfect hot sauce has less than perfect quotes :-)

ChrisL

PS: Authentic "Louisiana Hotsauce": made in Mason Ohio?

jselig's picture

There's a store near here that has quotes on their exterior sign like that. It's unfortunate because it's rather large.

marian bantjes's picture

I haven't been around much lately, and how odd, on the first typophile thread I read, to find myself mentioned. Thanks, Ben. Note to Steve Job, I may be assuming on your seeming assumption that "sixes and nines" is the correct answer to my test question. In fact, in my books, the correct answer is
b. have different looking opening and closing quotes

which of course covers Verdana (as well as this bizarre little practice of flipping the quotation marks around, which is a new one one me!).

Attached is a snippet from my teaching notes I give my students.
(And for what it's worth, I teach them about proper usage of both quotes and apostrophes too.)

- marian

russ's picture

I remember years ago in English class I used to do 99 and 66, which was picked up on by the teacher and swiftly corrected to 66 and 99! (Guess it would have fine if I was writing backwards!)

Nick Shinn's picture

The original question was "Is there any truth" [in the merit of heavy-side-up quote marks].

Obviously, standard practice won't answer that. But it should be pointed out that typography is about standards, not rules.

So, you can look at what's out there in the media and the specimen books, and 99.999% of English setting will be "default", or "standard" quotes. But this was a question to typophiles. Most of whom are conservative (it comes with the territory); but some typographers -- prestige or otherwise -- may want to try something different and daring (not quite Raygun, but nevermind). And it will be considered, rather than a mistake. That goes for the hot sauce package as well as this, from Emigre's Mrs Eaves. specimen booklet of 1996.

timd's picture

It is a nice “celebratory” touch for display type.
Tim

ben_archer's picture

I understand the original question came from a students confusion over conflicting advice; Billy doesn't mention what the subject is in his class, but I would guess that he is not teaching typographers, typophiles or prestige designers (who maybe learnt the rules before setting out to systematically break them).

Anyway, he is teaching students. Misinformation and lack of practice are what most students bring to class; it's their function and they needn't be blamed for it, just corrected wherever possible.

The original question was also not about 'merit' or variable practice – the student said they had been told to always flip the quote marks. This is not accepted practice; to suggest otherwise is simply to indulge wrongheadedness.

Marian – I hope you didn't mind. I thought the answer was yours to give away, so I didn't pre-empt it. I owe you an apology for misspelling your name! ooops sorry.

onine's picture

I hope this isn’t considered to be too much of a hijack but this thread seemed like a good place to pose this question which has bothered me for a while.

Ok, so I know a lot of programs will change a prime into ‘ or ’ and an inch symbol into “ or ”. But I do get tired of typing Alt+0145 (etc) into progs which don’t recognise that I’m trying to write an inverted comma or apostrophe... ...or an ellipsis for that matter...

...so, do any of you typophiles know how I can change the keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc. to output ‘, ’, “, ”, –, — etc?

Also, am I right in thinking that 1234567890 are “spare” keys since I have two of each of them (my keyboard has a number pad on the right)?

How do you guys deal with this problem daily? Have configured your keyboards differently to the default or do you only use software that “knows” what you are trying to type? Or am I just missing something? Thanks for any input!

Nick Shinn's picture

The original question was also not about ‘merit’ or variable practice

Actually, the question was: "Is there any truth in what they are saying?" -- and it's been answered that yes there is indeed some truth in it, with reference to typefaces by Benton, Licko, and Carter, not to mention a few of my own.

Deviations from the norm exist, and they are acceptable: it's a truth that students should be able to handle.

marian bantjes's picture

Ben, thx, I didn't mind at all.

Nick, um ... er ... while I can see that some typefaces may have been designed with the quotation marks flipped, I really would never encourage people to flip them themseleves, let alone to suggest that to do so would be "correct."

-marian

Nick Shinn's picture

I really would never encourage people to flip them themseleves, let alone to suggest that to do so would be “correct.”

I would always encourage students to consider the unorthodox design solution.
But it would be tempting to give billy's smart alec "prestige designer told me" students a good whack with a pica rule.

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