Colon (:) Alignment

shanyar's picture

I've been going back and forth with a client of mine, on where a colon (:) should be aligned. I say it's on the baseline, she says it should be centered. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
Thanks!
Shannon

Jan's picture

Centered? within in the x-height? or the cap-height? Bull.

Matthew Dixon's picture

A colon is a 'stop', just like a comma, a full-stop or a question mark and should sit on the baseline accordingly. Ask your client if she would suggest centering a semicolon in the same way.

spicymustard's picture

I'd say you need a new client.

charles ellertson's picture

If it were me, I'd tell her that conventionally, it sits on the baseline. But since she's paying, she can have it any way she wants -- even sideways. Anything to differentiate yourself from the competition.

If she gets fussy (just using a baseline shift to "center" likely will make the "top dot" too high), you get to make up a new colon & further differentiate your ability & services.

eliason's picture

must...resist...joke...

charles ellertson's picture

Innuendo o.k., joke, no.

shanyar's picture

Thanks everyone for the feedback -- it was exactly what I thought. Does anyone know of a resource that states this so I can actually show it to her? Thanks!

will powers's picture

well, it can depend on what the setting is. When I'm setting all-cap display that includes a colon, I baseline shift the colon to raise it. For extended upper+lower text, the colon usually sits on the baseline.

Haven't some typeface designers begun to include a "caps colon" in the character set? One that centers on the cap height and does not need to be raised?

powers

aluminum's picture

"anyone know of a resource that states this so I can actually show it to her?"

Open up Word. Type a sentence with a colon in it.

shanyar's picture

"Open up Word. Type a sentence with a colon in it."

Duh.

I was asking if there was anywhere where it actually states this as a rule. In order to sell this, I need to show her hard proof. I've already tried explaining that if a colon was meant to be aligned centered, the character would be set that way, as a hyphen is. She's not buying it though.

speter's picture

The illustration of a colon in Bringhurst shows it clearly on the baseline. Of course, if the client won't accept using the colon as the type designer put it in the font, I doubt that Bringhurst will sway them.

charles ellertson's picture

Well, at some level, it all a matter of convention. Why does any letter -- or punctuation -- look as it does? You can go back to scribal writing and find periods that are centered. If you look at the 42-line Guttenberg Bible (1455), the colon is on the baseline (except there was no "baseline" with metal type.)

Pressing on, the Cicero : Letters, printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz, Rome, 1470, have a more-or-less "centered" colon. However, the Letters printed by de Spira, Venice, 1469, show a "baseline" colon. Of course, both of these printers were German, but moved to different cities in what is now Italy.

Noinus : Peripatetica, Jensen, Venice, 1476, seems to use a baseline colon.

Froissart : Chroinques, de Tournes (Lyons, 1559) uses the "centered" colon.

By in Large, the vast majority of printers used a "baseline" colon. But if you want to find a few instances of the "centered" colon, you can.

So your client is passing strange, but not completely wrong, unless she is using a type where the type designer decreed a baseline colon. The answer is simple: change typefaces.

FWIW

Nick Shinn's picture

Haven’t some typeface designers begun to include a “caps colon” in the character set?

This one hasn't, yet, but thanks for the idea!

Rob O. Font's picture

"I was asking if there was anywhere where it actually states this as a rule"

Okay, Open up Word. Type a sentence in 5 fonts with a colon in them. ;)

"She’s not buying it though."

Okay, Open up Word. Type a sentence in 50 fonts with a colon in them. ;)

I don't think there is a rule anywhere better displayed that says "The colon is a multi-case glyph aligned to work best with all three major character groups; uppercase, lowercase and figures. In order to not appear high as a kite with lowercase, it is not centered vertically among the figures and Caps, but instead, the bottom jot matches the period, and the top jot aligns to the x-height."

Specialty colon characters can be made at any time for use in digital clocks, special tables and all cap uses.

Cheers!

Theunis de Jong's picture

>Haven’t some typeface designers begun to include a “caps colon” in the character set?

This one hasn’t, yet, but thanks for the idea!

Could easily be added in OpenType fonts as a vertical positioning in capital spacing (cpsp) tables, or as a glyph on its own (as is the way most current fonts do the vertical alignment for ¡ and ¿).

What's next, small caps colon?

adnix's picture

Someone should design a plug-in for proper colon alignment.

Sorry, couldn't resist.
David

speter's picture

Someone should design a plug-in for proper colon alignment.

Call it Bran Flakes.

James Arboghast's picture

I was asking if there was anywhere where it actually states this as a rule. In order to sell this, I need to show her hard proof. I’ve already tried explaining that if a colon was meant to be aligned centered, the character would be set that way, as a hyphen is. She’s not buying it though.

If a client was dicking me around and fussing and giving me this much hassle over a colon I would tell her it's going to cost her $500 extra to have her colon sorted the way she wants it, and if she won't pay that she is wasting her time and my time and to please go away and waste somebody else's time instead, as I have plenty of paying customers with realistic demands on-tap.

Why are you putting up with this?

The client is unprofessional and you could be much more professional about this by handling her in a professional manner.

All comments made in good faith.

j a m e s

shanyar's picture

Tell my company's creative director and owner that we should ditch a multi-million dollar account over a colon. Ha!

eliason's picture

I suspect dberlow hit in on the head - this idea comes from looking at digital clocks. Is this for text, or a logo, or something else?

dezcom's picture

I think your client needs a Colonoscopy :-)

ChrisL

aluminum's picture

"Duh."

If the "Duh" solution isn't enough to convince the client, then it's time to either a) give in or b) find a new client.

Scott Leyes's picture

Closest reference i could find is http://www.microsoft.com/typography/developers/fdsspec/punc.htm

...they don't specifically talk about vertical placement, which to me implies that it's centered on the x-height (other chars ARE specifically called out when they are not in alignment with "normal" characters).

Thomas Phinney's picture

The default form of the colon sits on the baseline in >98% of those high-quality typefaces which have a lower-case.

Haven’t some typeface designers begun to include a “caps colon” in the character set?

When I read that question, I was thinking that the newer Adobe Originals have indeed done so (including my own Hypatia Sans). But when I checked Arno and Hypatia Sans, it is not there.

A question arises: does one do a caps semicolon as well? Or accept that the semicolon and the colon will align differently in the caps? I ask because although a centered cap colon seems fine, in my mind I'm thinking a centered semicolon would look awkward. I'll be curious to try it and see if it is indeed problematic.

Regards,

T

James Arboghast's picture

@shanyar: Tell my company’s creative director and owner that we should ditch a multi-million dollar account over a colon. Ha!

It is abundantly clear from what they say that some commentators on this topic have either never worked in a media agency or not worked in a position within a creative agency that takes its business seriously.

If the client represented a multi million dollar account they would have already signed the work contract and agreed in advance to pay in full all amounts charged to their account incurred as a result of demands made by them. It says so in the work contract, and their account manager signed it. If the job itself is worth millions the extra $1000 I'd be charging for a custom colon should easily be within their budget.

If the client is smallfry they need me more than I need them, so they can walk. It's probably gonna work out cheaper for them.

"What's that? Now you want $1000 for the custom colon. Didn't you say $500 a few days ago?"

Yes, I did. The price has gone up because you keep dicking us around. Are there any more questions? Didn't think so.

See ya!

j a m e s

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