My Apostrophe, ‘Tis Of Thee

After recently viewing a local travelling exhibit of a deceased, famous Princess of Great Britain, I found myself completely distracted by the display boards. Every board used a combination of “straight” and “curly” apostrophes.

Upon spotting the mistakes of the novice usage of dumb apostrophes (technically, a foot mark), it became a contest to find other misuses. I became so distracted I completely disengaged from the exhibit and was left wondering, “Are we really better off having contemperary software tools put in the hands of untrained or mis-educated production artists and designers posing as typographers?”

Typographic designers through the ages actually found purposes for designing curly quotes differently from inch marks. These diacritics serve a purpose with legibility making it worthwhile to learn the keyboard shortcuts needed to obtain them. The example below illustrates that when an inch mark, or straight quote, is used where a curly quote should be, it creates a visual stop before the quotation. A curly quote guides the eye into the quote, and guiding the eye is the purpose of all well-designed type.

There are many means to view keyboard character shortcuts, and this new Adobe AIR app is available which provides keyboard shortcuts for all Adobe apps all in one place.