2 questions: en dash before the end of a quotation mark and colliding letters

RadioB's picture

1) throughout the book I'm leaving a word space between the en dash...e.g blablabla - blablabla...what happens if it comes at the end of a quotation mark? e.g 'blablablbla -' should i leave a space? 'blablabla - '

2) the typeface i'm using is arnhem...for some reason the r & t , r & y, f & k collide...it doesn't really affect the legibility but it looks ugly to me...should I change it? would it be considered unprofessional if I left it? why would a great designer like Fred Smeijers leave it like that?

Thank you!

oldnick's picture

1) Adding spaces on either side of a dash allows for better line breaks; if you didn’t add them, both words on either side of the dash and the dash itself would jump to the next line if you hit the hot zone. Since you want the close quote to stay with the en dash, don’t add a space. Simple.

2) Arnhem Pro has an /fk ligature, but that appears to be it; I guess you’ll have to like the /r or lump it…

Joshua Langman's picture

There's no reason you should have an en dash next to a quote mark. Even if you are using en dashes consistently throughout.

"I like en dashes – they're really cool."
"But when a dash ends a quote —" it is always an em dash. Signifying interruption (which is the only reason I can imagine ending a quote with a dash) is the special job of the em dash.

J. Tillman's picture

There is some discussion of the kerning in the comments of another review, but it doesn't change anything though.

hrant's picture

If you don't like anything in a font, see if the designer can convince you it was a good idea (since he's thought about it more and/or he might be smarter than you). But if he can't, fix it yourself (or find a better font). Everybody makes mistakes (and sometimes they don't even realize it's a mistake) and no two people ever really totally agree on anything.


RadioB's picture

oldnick: thanks, I'll check Arnhem pro

Joshua: thanks. i didn't know that. i thought you either pick an en or em and stick to it, didnt know it was acceptable to use both.

J. Tillman: thank you for the link,,i had actually read that article, I didnt realise the comment section was so informative.

hrant: it turns out Fred Smeijers did that on purpose, since i do believe he knows a lot more about the subject than I do, I'll keep as it is..although looking at some books by Hyphen Press that use Arnhem I see that they have added a little bit of space between the r and y so that they don't touch, u might need a magnifying glass to see it though

hrant's picture

Doing something on purpose is great; being able to convince others it's a good idea is a whole other level. And if Smeijers couldn't convince Hyphen Press, one of his greatest admirers...


charles ellertson's picture

There is no reason not to change the kerning to your taste. You can do this in the application program.

(Aside: A good modification to standard EULAs might be to allow any change to the font data, for one's own use only, if that change could also be made in the applications program. In the first place, there's just no way to tell from the printed piece where the change was made. In the second place, if you're going to make the change in the applications program, you have to be careful to get all occurrences. In the third place, it's sometimes faster, hence cheaper, to make the change in the font.)

Having said that, for Arnhem Blond used as the text font in books, often set a bit larger than magazines and newspapers, I like about 1.5% to 2% condensation. You can do this in InDesign. The downside is this may affect the kerning & letterfit just a bit. You'll have to try & see how it works for you. Remember, the original design was for a newspaper.

As for the en-dash before a right quote, I'd think you would want a bit of space if you're spacing the dashes elsewhere. Nor would I change to a closed-up em dash just for this one case. However, you could use a kern, or a fixed space such as a thin, which might give the same or just slightly less optical space as the word space used with other characters. IIRC, InDesign won't break at a thinspace, but in any case, you can put a "no break" command around the character sequence globally. Note that the "no break" command is different than the nobreak space (U+00A0)

Arnhem is a very nice text face. From the link, I guess someone found it "too Dutch," but I think Smeijers, like Carter & Majoor, is one of the geniuses in type design. (Counterpunch is a wonderful book, too.) Sadly, even being a genius doesn't mean you always get the kerning right, or minimally, that there can't be alternate, acceptable views.


Bert Vanderveen's picture

These colliding pairs are funny, in the sense that they do appear (and some of them frequently) in Dutch. Well, a light cut can take some positive tracking, so why not give that a try?

RadioB's picture

Thanks for taking the time to help Charles!

I agree Arnhem is a great typeface, my original choice for the this project was actually Mercury but H&FJ do not allow
you to have online downloadable PDFs when using their typefaces which this project needs, so I chose Arnhem instead which is one of my favorites.

Bert I might just go ahead and try some positive tracking.

charles ellertson's picture

You can try positive tracking, but I think it might generally do more harm than good. I checked, and I do kern the characters you mention. The screen doesn't give a perfect rendition -- esp. of kerning -- but here is a book we designed & set using Arnhem. It has been just slightly condensed, as mentioned above.


R.'s picture

Potentially misleading copyright information, Charles: ‘Typeset in Arnhem by Tseng Information Systems, Inc.’. Oh, and I thought they were based in Durham, NC ;-)

Bert Vanderveen's picture

My suggestion regarding trying positive tracking for light cuts was meant as a general option… I don’t have experience with Arnhem, so it may have been bad advice : (

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