Re: Empty set

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2013 13:32:31 +0200

2013/9/13 Stephan Stiller <>

> I dd not speak about inter-word spacing (this cont affect the rendering
>> of ellipsis itself) but about inter-letter spacing.
> But the context I provided was that some people ask for ". . .[ .]", as
> ugly as it is :-) And, again, the precise "ideal" spacing is a matter of
> typographic design; you can probably deal with this via kerning tables.
> Once you've increased the width of these interword spaces to their
>> maximum, all the characters (and these increased spaces) should be
>> justified using interletter spacing, and this extra interletter spacing
>> should be applied as well between the dots of the ellipsis (showing that
>> they are effectively 3 separate characters and not just one with a fixed
>> distance between dots).
> You are right that tracking and glyph scaling exist,

This is not glyph scaling : if the dots are circular, they remain circular.
Only their distance, i.e. the white gap between each black disks is
adjusted, but the black disks keep their dimension (size and ratio) to
preserve their blackness and not increase or render them to look like
elongated ellpses, or even like short horizontal strokes (due to dispersion
of ink and minimum size of ink bubbles or toner particles, and also the
granularity of paper surfaces) possibly with fuzzy gray borders on top and
bottom or variable weight with steps (due to minimum height of pixels on

So each dot is a glyph positioned independantly.

> but how exactly they should be applied to a 3- or 4-dot ellipsis is likely
> a matter of font design and typographic style. What you write isn't
> unreasonable, but I don't buy it as an absolute prescription. (If it were
> one, that'd be an argument against a single-glyph ellipsis.)

For me, the single glyph character was just meant for fitting an ellipsis
in a narrrow field with a fixed number of characters on a mospaced display
field -with a fixed number of cells), or to fit in narrow text fields of a
database. A sort of very basic data compression, but not a good typographic
solution. Even for printing on narrow columns over precious surfaces of
paper, readability matters, and monospaced fonts are poor as they waste
paper space. And for use with low resolutions (e.g. when faxing printed
documents) these single-glyph ellipsis (using too tiny dots) give very poor

This is acceptable for horizontal dotted rulers, but not for semantically
meaningful punctuation (you may argue that the problem is similiar with the
dots or diaresis or Hebrew and arabic points, but these dots are less
essential for correct understanding of text on low resolution medias, or
prints on basic paper quality and with low cost inks.

The ellipsis started to appear on mechanic or electronic typewriters only
when inked rubber cartridges started to use thin particles on plastic
substrate instead of tissue impregnated with greasy inks, and electric
control of type heads (to regulate the compression force on the rubber
between the type head and the paper and precisely determine the amount of
ink to put on paper). Pure mechanical typewriters (using only the force of
typist's fingers on keys and no electric assistance) did not have it.

Metal types probably had this character to facilitate/accelerate the manual
mounting of rows and get more precisely aligned dots. Dots used for periods
at end of sentences could be larger only because they included directly the
side bearing (for the whitespace following the period). Less a problem here
because such metal types were used only when mounted on plates applied with
precisely controled and uniform pression forces (so the rendered stroke
weights could be approximately uniform). So it was possible to have
distinct metal types for the period, for the full ellipsis sequence, or for
a few lengths of horizontal dotted rulers (easily aligned vertically along
the right margin by simple mechanical means, in tabular columns), even if
precise horizontal justification for narrow paragraphs was more limited
such precomposed metal types could be used as well for a few frequent short
words like "the", "and", "or", 'is", "not" (in English), or for frequent
parts of numbers like ".00" to accelerate the composition of plates. This
does not mean that they were real ligatures.
Received on Fri Sep 13 2013 - 06:34:29 CDT

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