Re: Origin of Ellipsis (was: RE: Empty set)

From: Jukka K. Korpela <>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2013 23:09:40 +0300

2013-09-13 22:02, Whistler, Ken wrote:

> The *interesting* question, in my opinion, is why folks feel impelled to use
> U+2026 to render a baseline ellipsis in Latin typography at all, rather than
> just using U+002E ad libitum...

In traditional typography, an ellipsis usually has dots set apart much
more than what you get when you simply have FULL STOP characters in
succession. The HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS character is supposed to have more
spacing. There are different conventions and practices for different
languages and by different typographers, but generally, three FULL STOP
characters are too close to each other.

Handling such things at the level of styling or formatting commands
tends to be somewhat awkward, so HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS is a simple
solution – and really the only solution in plain text. For example, in
web publishing, if you use FULL STOP to construct an ellipsis, you would
need something like <span class=ellipsis>...</span> and then would need
to carefully design a style sheet rule for .ellipsis, trying to find a
suitable value for letter-spacing. In effect, you would be doing a
typographer’s work, with inferior tools. Compare this with the ease of
using &hellip; or the “…” character directly.

Such thinking is, however, somewhat impractical. In fonts commonly used
for word processing and desktop publishing, HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS is
usually not that well designed. Sometimes (e.g., in the Verdana font)it
even has the dots closer to each other than in a sequence of three FULL
STOP characters!

But I think that the most common cause of the appearance of HORIZONTAL
ELLIPSIS is that Microsoft Office Word automatically changes a sequence
of three FULL STOP characters to HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS. Most users
probably don’t even notice this, or know how to disable it.

Received on Fri Sep 13 2013 - 15:11:32 CDT

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