Monday, May 16, 2016

You can rewrite your text to avoid weird typography

I was born a New Yorker and despite having lived much of my life elsewhere, I still consider myself to be a New Yorker. I read three or four New York Newspapers each day, watch New York TV channels, and subscribe to both New York and The New Yorker magazines.

The New Yorker has long been one of my favorite magazines. Every issue provides a host of well-written, interesting articles on a wide range of subjects, plus great cartoons -- and well-regarded poetry and fiction that I ignore.

The magazine provides readers with handsome typography, both on paper and online. It has a few idiosyncrasies, such as spelling-out numbers up to ninety-nine (or maybe even higher) and insisting on inserting a diaeresis (two dots, like an umlaut) over a second consecutive vowel in such words as “naïve” and “coöperate.”

The magazine tells us that the word is pronounced “die heiresses” and is from the Greek for “divide.”

A few days ago I discovered another bit of New Yorker weirdness:

I've read lots of things in my life, but never before noticed a large space between a closing quote mark and an apostrophe. I recognize that three consecutive curies look weird [below]--but the magazine's editorial staff made a bad decision in this case.
If I was an editor at The New Yorker, I would've rewritten the sentence to eliminate the silliness. Here's the original and one simple, suitable substitute: 

Don't be reluctant to change or shift words in your own work or work you edit for others.

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