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Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation

From: Foundations of Typography

Video: Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation

In this movie, we are going to talk about a few little things that mean a lot. We'll talk about ways to indicate the beginnings of paragraphs, and when and why to use hanging punctuation. Oh, and I'll tell you what hanging punctuation is. We'll start with indents. One of the most basic little cues that readers depend upon are the indicators that tell us we are about to start a new paragraph. The reader must be able to clearly distinguish where one paragraph ends and the next begins. The most common graphics signal is the indent.

Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation

In this movie, we are going to talk about a few little things that mean a lot. We'll talk about ways to indicate the beginnings of paragraphs, and when and why to use hanging punctuation. Oh, and I'll tell you what hanging punctuation is. We'll start with indents. One of the most basic little cues that readers depend upon are the indicators that tell us we are about to start a new paragraph. The reader must be able to clearly distinguish where one paragraph ends and the next begins. The most common graphics signal is the indent.

The width of the indent should be enough to be easily visible based on the line length. One pica is a good starting point. Another way to indicate paragraphs is the out dent. These will need a wider left-hand margin, so the out dents are not too close to the edge of the page. If space permits, you may also indicate paragraphs by skipping a line space or a half line space between paragraphs. An unusual and more dramatic method is a very wide indent. Here is an example. This works best with very wide columns of text.

Another possibility is to run all the text together as a solid block and to indicate paragraphs using a typographic device such as a square block or a decorative character like this one. Some punctuation marks need special attention too. In a justified column of text, when these marks are at the beginning or end of a line, the smaller bits of punctuation should extend beyond the edge of the text block. These are quote marks and apostrophes, hyphens, commas and periods.

This helps keep the optical alignment of the justified column intact, avoiding an optical indentation or gap. We call this hanging punctuation. Larger punctuation marks like question marks, exclamation points, colons, and semicolons, parentheses, and brackets, take up about the same space as a letter, so they don't need to extend beyond the edge of the justified text. Paying attention to these seemingly small details will improve the appearance of your text.

This is what professionals do and properly indicating paragraphs will help the reader along. These small steps will contribute to reading ease and comfort, an important goal for every designer who wants to use typography well.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Typography

46 video lessons · 35562 viewers

Ina Saltz
Author

 
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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