quotation marks in HTML output

Gary W. Swearingen swear at attbi.com
Thu Mar 27 21:38:25 UTC 2003

Giorgos Keramidas <keramida at FreeBSD.org> writes:

> It's a long standing typographical convention, which I do prefer in
> all printed material, given the proper fonts and letter-form.  Alas,
> today, most of the fonts that people use have these ugly, stupid marks
> that look bizarre instead of proper back-quotes and short, thin,
> vertical lines instead of proper right quotes.

I think it was a good idea to change the glyphs for the ASCII characters
so that 39 (') and 34 (") are vertical and 96 (`) looks like whatever a
grave accent is supposed to look like (which some think should be
symmetric with an acute accent).  What I think IS stupid is that the
Unicode people name the vertical thing "apostrophe" -- which it no
longer is.  (You're supposed to use the "single right quote" to get an

> This makes ``example'' look terrible.  Most notably, in HTML browsers,
> the right part looks some times like ``example" which is hurting my
> eyes and looks very unpleasant.

Mine converts them to "real" left and right double quotes, which look
good.  But I'd rather it give me what the author asked for, especially
when the author didn't use them in matching pairs.

> For these reasons, I'd probably support switching to double quotes
> like "...." for HTML output.  But only for HTML output.

Unless the FDP is trying to support some REALLY old browsers, HTML
should use the "&#8220" and "&#8221" (Unicode) entities for left and
right double quotation marks (with "&#8216" and "&#8217" for the single
versions).  The FDP should not support such old browsers.  I'm fairly
sure that all Netscape and M$ browsers less than 5 years old support
these four Unicode entities.

As for text format files, I've never liked ``this'', even in the good
old days when the glyphs were often symmetrical; today it's usually
uglier, even on most Unix/X11 systems.  "This" looks better, even when
the quotes are both right-leaning curly ones, which they seldom were
in the good old days and which they almost never are today.

Martin, if you're planning to take this discussion further than those in
last year's discussion did, please read
http://www.freebsd.org/internal/doceng.html, which says that changes are
made by consensus.  That obviously can't be true, but you can probably
read between the lines well enough to inform your efforts.  Good luck.

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