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Typography – Make your text look good

Typography is often referred to as “black art” for two reasons. First, there is (was) the black ink used for the printing of books, and second there are hundreds of rules and strange terms unknown to those who are not in the business of printing. Many of the rules of typography were established centuries ago, some of them even before Gutenberg’s innovation. They have survived until today for good reasons, because they add an aesthetic dimension to texts and make reading a pleasure. Unfortunately, even many professional typesetters (the folks using InDesign, QuarkXPress or scribus) seem to have forgotten or never learned the rules of typography. This Wiki page intends to provide some guidelines, which will help you to make a difference when it comes to typesetting. Those with experience in the „black art“ are invited to contribute.

Quotation marks

One of the „deadly“ sins is the wrong use of quotation marks. Modern word processing software, while actually being able to provide correct quotation marks, takes users back to the age of typewriters. As a consequence many documents still contain " as quotation marks. But " is a symbol for inch. There’s no language in the world using inch as quotation mark! Below you see the correct glyphs for quotations in different languages (you'll probably need to use the text zoom function of your browser to see the difference).

„ “ Czech, Danish, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovene

„ ” Afrikaans, Dutch, Hungarian

“ ” English (all flavours), French, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish

‘’ English (British)

” ” Finnish, Swedish

“ „ Italian, Turkish

« » French, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish

» « Croatian, Czech, Danish, German, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak

» » Finnish, Swedish


An ellipsis is used for leaving something out, unfinished sentences for instance. Most people will use the dot key from their keyboard three times to insert an ellipsis. This is not correct. An ellipsis is a special character (Unicode 2026), so always insert this one, unless your font set doesn’t contain the glyph:

… ellipsis

... three dots