No story to tell here, just a few notes for publishing-tech fans, which I guess is more or less everyone who does Web stuff which is more or less everyone. But if you don’t care about the difference between real apostrophes and “'” you can stop reading now.

Quotes · Late last year I published Better Quotes and Better Quotes Redux, about why you should use real quotations marks, and how to make this a little easier on OS X. Some readers disagreed, but they were wrong.

Since then, as a matter of principle, on every occasion I typed a single or double quote into a computer, unless it was code, I’ve Done The Right Thing. Partly this is out of sheer perversity; in particular on certain mailing lists that only accept plain-text input. But also partly as an unofficial experiment in the round-trippability of UTF-8.

The news is good! The only breakage I observe is on certain IETF mailing lists inhabited by malicious anti-Unicode troglodytes. The Internet is increasingly mostly UTF-8, and this is A Good Thing.

Typefaces: Tisa · This publication has been in FF Tisa for over a year, and I haven’t regretted the choice for a single second. Not coincidentally, Tisa has the grooviest single and double quotes ever.

Typefaces: Consolas and Friends · So there’s this nice monospace font Consolas which Microsoft released 2005-ish. I discovered it a Google doc someone else built and I liked a lot. I’m an old-schooler who was still using Courier New Bold for code samples, but Consolas won my heart instantly.

I liked it so much I decided to use it in a desktop app on my Mac, so went looking on Font Book, but no luck. I was baffled... everyone knows that on OS X the fonts are in the Font Book.

Then I realized that Consolas is a Web font, and Google docs are after all Web things. Perfectly sensible. Except for, anyone who toiled on this technology back in the days when we still talked “Desktop Publishing” will find it a little disorienting that my lightweight online word processor has access to more typefaces than my desktop tools.

Fortunately, Raph Levien was also influenced by Consolas in the production of  Inconsolata, which is beautiful and free and I’m now using. Thanks Raph!

Emacs · This is the desktop app that I wanted to use Consolas in, for which Inconsolata 14pt turns out to be totally great. I am told that even at this late date, opinions about Emacs have been observed to vary. I don’t care; it’s very likely that whatever the last words I keyboard in this life turn out to be, they will have been typed into Emacs.

If you want a custom typeface in OS X Emacs (23.3.1 at the moment), there are some obstacles. You can select a default face, using the standard OS X font picker, but then if you use the Options→Save Options menu, it doesn’t save the font successfuly, but leaves an empty invocation of (custom-set-faces) at the bottom of your .emacs; so if you want Inconsolata 14 you have to hand-edit something like this in:

  '(default ((t (:height 140 :family "Inconsolata"))))

I’ve never bothered to actually understand how Emacs does fonts, but I think I want to learn, because I’m actually toying with the idea of buying (gasp) the desktop flavor of Tisa Pro and using it to edit this.

Which would mean a proportional font in an Emacs buffer; beyond the pale of reasonable behavior, to some. And indeed, I’d need to figure out how to do a quick swap back to Inconsolata or whatever when I drop out of prose into Ruby or C.

Color · Next spring is this blog thang’s tenth birthday. To celebrate, I think I may switch away from the #AA0000 red I’ve been using for hyperlinks and front-page titles for a decade. This will be a momentous task; but after switching typefaces, everything else feels easy.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Kevin Reid (Sep 25 2012, at 08:50)

Speaking of typography, FYI, every time I view one of your posts on my Galaxy Nexus, there are good old missing-character rectangles interspersed randomly in the text — but no actual characters are missing — and bad text layout at style boundaries.


From: Joshua (Sep 25 2012, at 09:20)

Consolas will get installed to your font book if you have Microsoft Office.


From: Carey (Sep 25 2012, at 12:07)

So that’s why my attempts to use Liberation Mono in Emacs keep failing.

If it works for you, it looks like variable-pitch-mode will help keep your blogging and programming fonts separate.


From: Ben Darnell (Sep 25 2012, at 13:28)

I use the Inconsolata-dz variant (heresy I know, but in a coding font I want the ascii apostrophe and quote characters to be symmetrical; Unfortunately the hyphen in the name conflicts with X11 font naming traditions, making it more difficult than usual to use it in unix software. Here's what I put in my .emacs for OS X (note the backslash-escaped hyphen).

(set-face-font 'default "Inconsolata\-dz-12")

(add-to-list 'default-frame-alist

'(font . "Inconsolata\-dz-12"))

For some reason Inconsolata and Inconsolata-dz are also sized differently, so Inconsolata-dz at size 12 is the same size as Inconsolata at 14.


From: Nathan (Sep 25 2012, at 14:16)

Did you ever deign to elaborate your ridiculous and hidebound ideas on apostrophes (see, I can stoop to ad-hominem attacks as well)? If so, I must have missed that post. All I remember are posts in which you asserted that you were right.

Given the many technical and logistical hurdles imposed by this behavior, it does not seem self-evidently correct to me to use a hovering comma instead of an apostrophe.


From: steve (Sep 25 2012, at 23:16)

i am sympathetic with emacs users, but i use BBEdit, whose authors liked Consolas well enough that they included it with the package starting a few years ago


From: Trung (Sep 26 2012, at 00:53)

Tim, you sure can install and use Consolas on OS X. Legally. I did it long time ago. A bit of googling turned up this howto

Don't forget to turn on Font smoothing for non-Apple external monitors if you use one.


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