Sunday, November 15, 2009

A typographer's Twitter tip

Updated with contributions from anonymous and parkrrrr

I’m becoming accustomed to the 140-character limit on Twitter posts, and I’m abbreviating (2 for “to,” 4 for “for,” and so forth) when I have to. But I also see an opportunity for character-shaving that most others are not using, perhaps because of inconvenience. So, as a public service, here are some one-character punctuation marks for you to copy and paste, together with the Windows keyboard shortcuts and Mac keyboard shortcuts (last column, submitted by an anonymous commenter) if you’d rather type them yourself.

Replace "..." with ellipsis … Alt+0133 Opt+;
Replace "--" with em dash — Alt+0151 Opt+Shift+-
Replace " - " with en dash – Alt+0150 Opt+-
Replace " + " with bullet • Alt+0149 Opt+8
Replace " | " with pilcrow ¶ Alt+0182 Opt+7
Replace "ae" with ligature æ Alt+0230
Replace "oe" with ligature œ Alt+0156
The following have no shortcuts, but you can copy and paste.

Replace RT with ℞ but cpdavey suggests recycling symbol, ♺
Replace !? with ‽
Replace fi with fi
Replace fl with fl
Replace No with №

Do you have others you would like me to add?


Anonymous said...

"option" and "alt" are the same key on Macs, "opt" is the usual way to refer to it. All indicated keys are held down simultaneously to produce the character..

ellipsis … = opt ;
em dash — = opt shift -
en dash – = opt -
bullet • = opt 8
pilcrow ¶ = opt 7

so the same key is used for all dashlike characters:

- = (hyphen)
- + opt = – (en dash)
- + opt + shift = — (em dash)

parkrrrr said...

There's always the old standby ligatures:

ae - æ - Alt+0230
oe - œ - Alt+0156
fi - fi
fl - fl

And if you want to get really silly, there's the "numero" sign:

No - №

But you should probably only use that one when it's a single word, as some fonts will underline and superscript the o.

parkrrrr said...

There's also ts - ʦ which is present in at least some fonts (Arial and Times New Roman among them.)

Experimenting with these, I see that at least ʦ and № work fine with the Twitter web interface, but don't show up at all in TweetDeck. If you paste them into TweetDeck, it just ignores them completely, so it's not merely a font issue. I wish I could say that's surprising.