Typesetting Dutch and German text

capthaddock's picture

I'm typesetting a catalog for a client into several languages, and I realize that I don't know enough about editorial and typographic norms for Dutch and German. If anyone could answer these questions, I'd appreciate it.

1. What are the Dutch and German capitalization norms for titles and headlines?

2. German does not use italics, correct? Do they indicate book titles in any particular way? How about Dutch?

3. What are the best quotation marks to use for German and Dutch?

4. Are there any other obvious rules I should know?

Paul

Dan Weaver's picture

Paul, my only runin with German was when Remington Products thought they would sell cheap razors in Germany and we had to translate the user manual. We hired a translator and had them approve the galley proofs (typesetting days) I would guess it be a good idea to invest in a translator and let the client assorb the cost. It always costs more to redo a job than to do it right in the first place.

John Hudson's picture

For German:

1. Find a copy of Der Duden. This is the offical German style guide. You'll need a German speaker to help you find the information you need, since the book is very large and detailed.

2. German does use italics when set in 'antiqua' type: the restriction against italics is for blackletter. However, Der Duden will provide details on how italics are used in German.

3. The most common form of quotation marks today are opening baseline quotes (look like commas) and upper closing quotes (note: what we think of as left quotes). These are included in the standard character sets for Western Europe.

German quotes

Formerly, German typesetters used inward-pointing guillemet. Refer to Der Duden for when to use single and double quotes.

4. Do not be tempted to extrapolate from German typesetting rules to Dutch. Hopefully someone can direct you to a Dutch resource as useful as Der Duden is for German.

capthaddock's picture

We've already got translators, who have provided me with text translations. However, translators are copy writers, not typographers; which is why I have these questions. :-)

Paul

capthaddock's picture

Thanks, John. I will definitely hunt down a copy of Der Duden, although probably not in time for this last-minute project.

Any other input by anyone is appreciated ...

Paul

hrant's picture

John, is it now practically verboten to use guillemets in German?
And what about nesting?

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I don't know what the current thinking on guillemets is in Germany, or what, for instance, practice is in Austria or Switzerland. You would have to check Der Duden for nesting rules: I think it is single-double-double-single, but I'm not certain.

nicolai's picture

German quotationmarks:

rolf_309's picture

1. What are the Dutch capitalization norms for titles and headlines?

None in particular. Start with a capital and then only names of "things", cities and people are written i capitals.
Or start every word with a capital - it's up to the designer to decide, not? As long as it's not an "official" paper for academies, research etc. there are no rules.

2. German does not use italics, correct? Do they indicate book titles in any particular way? How about Dutch?

In Dutch, titles are either written in Italics or small caps (rare) as far as I know. But again I think it's up to the designer really.


3. What are the best quotation marks to use for Dutch?

More and more single quotes. Nesting: single -double/double - single. Double quotes are still alright, but I find them old fashioned.

4. Are there any other obvious rules I should know?

No, not for Dutch, only if you're designing research papers, medical books, encyclopedias etc. (what is the exact term for those things?) where there is a list of resources you used.

hrant's picture

I prefer guillemets (points out) for all languages, including English.
Somebody once mentioned a somewhat famous book in English like that - what was it?

hhp

capthaddock's picture

Vielen dank, everybody.

Paul

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