Correct inch mark in Frutiger ?

anonymous's picture

In Frutiger Roman what is the correct way to show the inch mark. I am not sure what option three is but it looks good to me.

1 - shift "

2 - shift / otion / [

3 - shift / option / g

What is the correct way to use option three, it is called "hungarumlaut"

Thanks for the information

matteson's picture

Yeah, a screen shot of those three characters would help, Gerry, but (going out on a limb) chances are that your option 1 is an inch mark (or "double prime"); 2 is a typographic (or curly) quote; and 3 is a Hungarian umlaut. Hungarian umlauts aren't inch marks, and they're not that common. E.g., the "umlaut" in the mathematician Paul Erdös' name should be a Hungarian umlaut.

Don't quote me, though. All this is assuming that you're running a Mac, and your font is based on the standard MacOS Roman codepage.

cheshiredave's picture

Option 3 is indeed the inch mark you're looking for. Shift-option-e is the corresponding foot mark.

matteson's picture

Are you sure Dave? I'm certainly no expert, but I'm pretty certain that proper inch and foot marks are supposed to be vertical, not slanted. Someone please correct me if that's wrong. Cheers.

kentlew's picture

Cheshire, most typographers will disagree with you.

Option 1 is the double prime, also known as dumb quote, and is the proper mark for inches.

Option 2 is the typographic quotation mark -- or "curly" or "smart" quote (as styled for Frutiger, not very curly, I grant you).

Option 3 is the hungarian umlaut, an accent mark. (Bringhurst prefers to call it double acute or long umlaut, as the Hungarian language also includes traditional umlauts.) Your corresponding shift-option-e on the Mac yields the acute accent mark.

Prime marks are usually vertical, but you will also find an occasional design which features slightly sloped primes. When they are, they look very similar to Frutiger's quotation mark.

You can refer to Bringhurst's Appendix A for more description of each of these. (The Elements of Typographic Style )

-- K.

cheshiredave's picture

The Chicago Manual of Style dictates the slanted primes of option 3 as the proper inch and foot marks (rule 14.38). Though I'm loath to put myself at odds with typographers, I've got decent backup for my heresy.

kentlew's picture

Interesting citation, Cheshire; always helps to have backup.

But I'm going to challenge your interpretation. If you look closely at

cheshiredave's picture

I had noticed that, too, but I checked other rules that had an or option, and in those cases, the or was in italics but the alternate option wasn't, so my guess was that the slanted primes really were slanted, not just italicized in that instance.

cheshiredave's picture

Sorry, should have cited: rules 14.39 and 14.40 both feature alternatives where the or is italicized but the alternate option isn't.

.'s picture

I know I'm coming late to the party here, but I'll just weigh in with what I know, and what I see around.

While the glyph in most sans serif fonts is nothing but a pair of boxes, the correct mark to indicate inches is ", the double prime. The prime is used for feet.

The 'Hungarian Umlaut' accent, as it is known to users of Fontographer and FontLab - that's likely the accent's official ISO name - is composed of two acute accents arranged close together, with an umlaut-like proximity. This is not a double prime, and the acute accent is not a prime.

Close-quotation marks (single and double) are likewise not primes, and should not be used to indicate feet and inches, although your page layout software has a preference for 'Typographer's Quotes' which will replace errant primes and double primes for their correct quotation mark. You can turn this function off in order to insert correct primes and double primes, but watch out that your apostrophes and quotes don't revert to the 'email' state of primes and double primes. (For example, I have been using primes and double primes to indicate quotation marks, since this is HTML / ASCII text, and quotation marks are not supported.)

Every font's accents, prime marks, and quotation marks have been designed by the type designer, and so should be used where they should, even if an acute accent or close-quotation looks good. After all; what if you change your mind and your font at the last minute? You will end up with surprises...

I don't have Frutiger loaded on my machine at the moment, but have made a little image showing the differences between the various glyph's in Adrian Frutiger's Univers font, and in my own ApexSans font. And I threw in the comma as well for further comparison: in some fonts, the comma and quotation marks are identical, in others they are not.

Hope this helps somewhat.

cheshiredave's picture

So should I take the CMOS rule to mean that they think inch and foot marks should be italicized primes rather than the accents? That doesn't really make sense to me, as I don't think that any other symbols are normally italicized when used with roman text, but I'm willing to be swayed.

I think the CMOS rule is meant, as most CMOS rules are, to avoid misunderstanding. The CMOS rule may stem from an era in which newspaper writers sent in typewritten stories wherein they didn't have the luxury of curly quotes, hence the opportunity for quotation-mark/inch-mark confusion. Thus, the CMOS rule may be outdated.

kentlew's picture

Cheshire, your examination was more thorough than mine. I did not look on to observe that the or is not usually followed with italic.

Still, I find it hard to comprehend that the CMOS would dictate either accent marks or italicized primes over plain ol' font-specific, designer-designed primes.

I don't have my copy with me now to try to find any other evidence to support my unswayed conviction that the slantedness of the primes in CMOS is not intended to be prescriptive. I have no further explanation.

For those who may not be aware: in Quark on the Mac you can type prime marks without turning off the "smart quotes" preference by using the control key to override the substitution -- control-' gives the single prime, control-shift-' gives the double prime.

-- K.

cheshiredave's picture

I guess it didn't seem unnatural to me to use accents for another purpose, as there are other symbols that do multiple duties as well: the tilde is used in Spanish or Portuguese in conjunction with other letters, but it's also used in English to symbolize "approximately"; the asterisk is used both as a footnoting device as well as a mathematical symbol; and the pi and delta symbols are used in mathematics but are also used as shorthand in the legal sphere to denote "plaintiff" and "defendant." Though the marks in question here were primarily accents for languages other than English, I don't see a problem with reassigning them for use in the English language as marks to represent something else. Note also that the slanted primes (which I've always referred to as "hash marks," by the way) are also used to denote minutes and seconds, as mentioned here.

I would be interested to know the development of the primes in the first place.

kentlew's picture

Well argued, Cheshire. But going back to the original question: what is the correct way to show the inch mark? I maintain that it is the font's proper primes.

An aesthetic decision to press accents into service in the place of primes is a slightly different matter. I will confess that I don't care for the clunky design of the Frutiger primes (most primes for that matter), but that doesn't change the fact that they are still the proper primes for the face. The long umlaut as double prime just looks strange to my eyes, at least in the Frutiger. Perhaps in another typeface, they could pass.

I know that the prime mark is used in mathematics to distinguish . . . actually, I'm not sure I can articulate just what it distinguishes -- two similar, but distinct entities? Something like that. I wonder if the use for inches and feet, or seconds and minutes, derives originally from a mathematical function.

BTW, I've always thought of the number sign, or octothorp, as the "hash mark."

-- K.

cheshiredave's picture

I was going to make my hash-mark comment yesterday, but it suddenly occurred to me that I was no longer sure that was accurate, because writing it down for the first time (as opposed to saying it, which I've done for years), the word hash suddenly looked suspicious, as though it really deserved to belong to the octothorpe (or, as I've always referred to it, the "pound sign"). Then when I found the page I referenced above, it confirmed my original thought. Now that I've done some more searching, I think consensus runs toward hash-mark-as-octothorpe, which of course makes more sense. Still, there are apparently a lot of people like me who have been running around pell-mell calling quotation marks "hash marks." Well, I'm stopping such nonsense right now.

Anyway, back to the original topic: I guess we will agree to disagree. On simply aesthetic terms, I think that the long umlaut tends to look better in serif faces, a more elegant mark compared to the short wedges found, for example, in Helvetica and Futura.


As usual, Adobe Garamond is my favorite.

anonymous's picture

Thanks for the information regarding posting. This is my first time on this forum and I was not thinking.
I am on a Mac so the key strokes relate to that platform.


jfp's picture

Have you heard that the keyboard shortcuts belong to the computer language settings? I can say similar thing for the platform you use... As French, your shortcuts mean nothing to your question.

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