Last week I asserted that proper left/right quotation marks are essential, recommended KeyRemap4MacBook to fix the problem, and suggested option-S, -D, and -F as mappings for “, ”, and ’. Readers objected to all three and indeed, I was wrong about two of them.

Some felt I was unduly purist and pedantic, a punctuation jihadi; that those good ol’ mechanical-typewriter compromises " and ' are good enough. Those people are wrong. Modern typography is a highly-evolved combination of art and science, the end-point of centuries of refinement. It’d be insane to discard that accumulated wisdom to save a keystroke or two. Show your readers some respect and do the right thing.

On the other hand, as Smokey Ardisson [BTW, I recommend following that link] pointed out in the comments, KeyRemap4MacBook is massive overkill; it uses a kernel extension to allow all sorts of heroic multi-key remappings, way beyond what most people need.

All you need, it turns out, is a keyboard-mapping XML file, albeit a horribly complex and tricky one; but that’s OK because there are tools to help with the editing. The first one I tried was Ukelele and it worked.

Well, not quite first time. One thing the Ukelele docs (which are otherwise pretty good) don’t tell you is to pull down the “Keyboard” menu and give your shiny new keyboard a name you’ll recognize the endless list of input sources.

Finally, I’m switching the bindings. is on option-' which is mnemonic, then and are on option-L and option-; respectively because they’re side-by-side and next to the . Works great.


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From: Daniel Grady (Nov 20 2011, at 06:32)

Thanks for these interesting links, Tim! I am curious how you qualify modern typography as a highly-evolved science, though. Art, I can agree with, but I've spent some time trying to track down research on the effects of hyphenation-and-justification, different font styles, and ligatures on legibility, reading speed, and comprehension, and the pickings seem slim. There is some stuff out there, but it seems much more like a science in its infancy. I'd love to see other references, in particular a review of the scientific work on these issues, if you know of one.


From: Larry Reid (Nov 20 2011, at 06:49)

I'm totally with you on using the proper quotes. What do you think of the idea that everyone should properly implement "smart quotes"? The normal use case is to want proper quotes, so it should happen automatically. The weird key sequences should be saved for when you want straight quotes, like when typing code fragments.


From: Joe Clark (Nov 20 2011, at 09:36)

If it’s “insane to discard… accumulated wisdom to save a keystroke or two,” then the massive programming “overkill” you still prefer over simply touch-typing characters nobody else has trouble with could also be described as *“insane.”

Typing Option-[letter] is no different from the actual keystrokes in present use, Option- and Shift-Option-[ and -]. Your “solution” is not materially different from the “problem.”

You do this sort of thing a lot, you know – presenting yourself as having magisterial expertise over long-ago-solved problems.


From: Smokey Ardisson (Nov 22 2011, at 18:32)

Glad that Ukelele (eventually) worked out for you, Tim. It’s a powerful tool, but sometimes that power translates into complexity that can get in the way ;-)

(Also, I’m equal parts flattered and befuddled that you thought other “ongoing” readers would find things of interest on my humble site; I hope it managed to fit the bill for those that may have visited.)


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