Re: Apostrophes at

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Thu Aug 23 2007 - 15:22:59 CDT

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    On Thu, 23 Aug 2007, Eric Muller wrote:

    > James Kass wrote:
    >> ASCII quotes and apostrophes are valid Unicode characters. But,
    >> surely preferred characters should be used in accordance with the
    >> standard.
    > For the UDHR texts, which are very simple in terms of character usage, I am
    > trying to follow that line fairly rigorously. So I would prefer to have no
    > U+002D - HYPHEN-MINUS, but either U+2010 HYPHEN, U+2212 MINUS SIGN
    > (unlikely in this text), U+2013 EN DASH or U+2014 EM DASH.

    Or maybe U+2011 NON-BREAKING HYPHEN or even U+2043 HYPHEN BULLET at times.

    However, such goals are partly unrealistic in www authoring. Besides,
    there is no explicit preference in the Unicode standard as far as I can
    see, in the same sense that there is a preference statement about the
    punctuation apostrophe. I think it's correct to interpret the standard so
    that the more specific characters are more suitable in new data when they
    can be used, but this preference is implicit only.

    > Most of the
    > time, it should be U+2010 HYPHEN. However, the support in fonts for U+2010
    > is less than perfect, and some users they will get a .notdef glyph. I am
    > faced with a dilemma: either follow the line or make the documents more
    > user-friendly. I already received two comments in favor of user-friendliness.

    The lack of support to U+2010 HYPHEN is serious enough to make it
    currently unsuitable for purposes like www authoring and document
    interchange in general. Moreover, using U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS instead of it
    will usually cause no serious visible effect - nothing comparable to
    the apostrophe issue (or the issue of using HYPHEN-MINUS instead of MINUS
    SIGN, EN DASH, or EM DASH, which are fairly well supported). It also an
    issue that few people are aware of, whereas typographically poor
    apostrophes and quotation marks have been a debated issue in www
    authoring since the beginning.

    However, in some fonts HYPHEN-MINUS is almost as long as EN DASH, causing
    potential risk of confusion. Actually, in Lucida Sans Unicode it seems to
    be equally long, whereas HYPHEN is clearly shorter. But the practical
    conclusion is that this font be avoided in www authoring, rather than that
    we should use HYPHEN on www pages.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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