TypeTalk: To Hang or not to Hang…

TypeTalk is a regular blog on typography. Post your questions and comments by clicking on the Comments icon above. If Ilene answers your question in the blog, you’ll receive one Official Creativepro.com T-Shirt!
Q. When starting a paragraph with a quotation, should the opening quotation marks sit outside the text so that it doesn’t appear to be indented? Or can the opening quotation marks align with the line below?
A. While it’s not technically incorrect for quotation marks at the beginning of a paragraph, opening sentence, or any occurrence to align with the copy below it, it does create a visual hole that makes the line appear to be indented. A more typographically sophisticated solution is to hang the quotes into the margin to create a cleaner margin alignment. This is historically called hanging punctuation, or “hung punc” in the days of speccing type for a type shop.
When quotes at the beginning of a line of text are aligned with the text below it (upper example), that line can appear to be indented. Hanging the quotes into the margin (lower example) will create a more visually aligned margin. Excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.

Adobe’s Optical Margin Alignment, available in InDesign and Illustrator, will hang punctuation and other characters that don’t align visually. You reach it through Type > Story in InDesign and Type > Optical Margin Alignment in Illustrator.
InDesign’s Optical Margin Alignment can be accessed in the Story palette, which is located under Type in the main menu.

QuarkXPress 8 has Hanging Punctuation and Punctuation Margin Alignment features. To access them, select the text or text box, then go to Style > Formats > Hanging Punctuation (complete punctuation hanging), or Punctuation Margin Alignment (modified punctuation hanging).
QuarkXPress 8’s Hanging Punctuation and Punctuation Margin Alignment features can be accessed by going to Style > Formats.

Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at [email protected]. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com.

Ilene Strizver is a noted typographic educator, author, designer and founder of The Type Studio in Westport, Connecticut. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, is now in its 4th edition.
  • Kathy Kifer says:

    What’s the best way to handle a drop cap with a beginning quote mark?

  • Anonymous says:

    How do I maintain the tab value in Text Wrap in InDesign?

  • Anonymous says:

    The article on hang punc was helpful for me as well as my colleagues. Good.

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