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Sparky's Typesetting School, Part 3

After looking through parts one and two of Sparky's Typesetting school, Cynthia reminded me that I forgot to talk about the ellipsis (you know, the dot-dot-dot thing).

Just a little gripe, why is it that my editors don't freakin' know how to properly space ellipses? They insist that the ellipsis should have a full space in between each period, when I learned it to be the same space as an em-dash, or option-semicolon when you are in quark. Who is right here???

When it comes to ellipses ("ellipses" is the plural of "ellipsis"), I say full spaces are definitely wrong. Besides, if you use regular word spaces, the ellipsis can break in the middle, which is bad. No spaces would make it too squooshed, and the single ellipsis character lurking in every computer font (often abused by surrounding it with full-sized word spaces) is the same way. Ideally, you should use a thin space, which is one fifth of an em space. Having the whole unit take up an em space sounds like a good rule of thumb, though. (An em space, as you might guess, is the same width as an em dash; i.e., equal to the point size of the current font.)

In Quark I find the best thing to do is set an ellipsis with regular word spaces on the outside, non-breaking word spaces (command-space) between the periods, and then reduce the tracking on all of them until the space seems just right — not too tight, not too loose. Again, it's that whole idea of having just enough room to say, "This is just a pause, goddamnit, but I haven't finished what I was saying yet."

By the way, an em space is usually the ideal amount of space for a paragraph indent. Just enough of a visual break to let your eye know a new paragraph is starting, not so much that it breaks up the vertical rhythm of the text too much.

Lord, I’m a nerd.

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