Little nothings of life (about Punctuation Space)

rustam's picture

Where you using this space in the layout design? (sorry for my English)

charles ellertson's picture

With some tables, you have different type of data under a single column head. In the sample shown below, you can use InDesign's "decimal alignment" to align on the decimal for the percentage entries, but that won't work for the "number" entries, which are in parentheses -- and they should NOT align with the percentage data.

So. I used decimal alignment for the percentage data, and centered the numbers data. This required "padding" the numbers, which means a phantom space the width of a comma and another the width of a digit. In the table shown, you couldn't simply set the parenthetical data flush left or flush right.

I always fill out unicode 2007 and 2008 so this is possible. But almost no foundry does. I'd hope that the built-in ID spaces refer to the numbers being used and comma & period being used (tabular here), but I'm not sure -- why I always make up the unicode spaces & enter them. You could try the ID figure space and punctuation space & see if they work.

In your example, the entry 1087 would usually be expressed as 1,087 in English (1.087 in some languages), so you would have to pad for the comma/period if you were centering data.

rustam's picture

Charles, thanks.

Well, how InDesign calculates the width of the punct space if the foundty is not designed it?

charles ellertson's picture

Someone from Adobe would have to say how they wrote this bit of the program.

We use to use TeX, and had a similar feature. I can't remember whether it was a TeX primitive or we wrote it, but we certainly wrote a definition to use one character (the "|" key) to implement it. You just go and look up the width of a certain character, and in TeX terms, set an h-box to that width. If you put a (TeX) invisiblespeck on each side, it won't get thrown out in a glue-glue situation. It seems to me that the InDesign "figure space" is thrown out if you put it after the number; e.g. I can't get 12.1 and 13.15 to align by setting them flush right by putting a figure space after the "1" in 12.1. (with CS2 in a formal table, anyway).

With OpenType fonts and InDesign, there can be a lot of sets of numbers -- both oldstyle and lining, and both proportional and tabular. If the routine just looks at what's in "zero" to get the width of the space, that width would be dependent on which is the default character. I tend to put oldstyle proportional as the default figures, so . . .

I also frequently make up tabular commas and periods. The commas and periods in the font have sidebearings designed to work well at the end of sentences and clauses, their fit with tabular numbers is not a big concern. So I make up tabular ones, & swap them with the numbers. I doubt InDesign is up to figuring that out, but if you put that width in uni 2008, you nail it.

Other things to watch for is that the type designer has made the tabular roman figures the same setwidth as the italic, and so on.

BTW, the best way to align what you showed in your example is to use decimal alignment, that is very easy & needs no padding of the numbers. It is the odd circumstances where padding is needed -- though I'd agree that sometimes there are just one or two numbers in a table that need padding to get centering to work, and that can be faster.

Hope this helps.

speter's picture

We use to use TeX, and had a similar feature. I can’t remember whether it was a TeX primitive or we wrote it

It's not a primitive, but is defined in the Plain TeX format. It's called \phantom.

charles ellertson's picture

Yes. I guess we must have written a specialized routine for a phantom figure space.

I really wish InDesign had a generalized phantom space routine.

Theunis de Jong's picture

I really wish InDesign had a generalized phantom space routine.

The number space was about the last one I missed, coming into CS3 [*]. En-spaces do not quite cover that (usually, they are too big). For any other phantom work, I just set the text colour to "[None]". ID is smart enough to not even include that text into a PDF, just its width. What more could you ask for? Phantom-a space, Phantom-b space, Phantom-c space (etc.)?

[*] I wondered a couple of times how ID gets the width. The naive approach would be just to use the width of a zero, but in a default old style figures font, all figures have (most likely) different widths. Usually, right after that I remember that these numbers are not meant to be aligned vertically, so it's a pure academic question. But still -- I might find out through experimentation, some day, when I'm bored.

[Note] Hey, I see Charles said just about the same!

charles ellertson's picture

For any other phantom work, I just set the text colour to “[None]”. ID is smart enough to not even include that text into a PDF, just its width. What more could you ask for?

Well, in our line of work, an XML file is sometimes made from the the final typesetting file, so that would leave a bit of a bomb in the text.

But you could probably make a character style named "get thee to a nunnery" (or maybe "omit"), which would both set the color and helped identify characters to be deleted in any eventual XML file.

Good tip even if I can't get it adopted at our shop.

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