Artemy Lebedev

§ 104. Quotation marks

May 17, 2004

Quotes are punctuation marks used in pairs.

To save money, typewriters were supplied with one single quote that was inherited by a computer keyboard. As a result, owing to the illiteracy of imposers and designers (who were earlier supervised by editors), the overwhelming majority of printed products worldwide has ceased to delight the picky reader.

Like brackets, quotation marks may be either opening or closing. Almost whatever font you choose, the way a quote is printed will tell you what kind of a quote it is, even beyond its context. However, in programming and markup languages “programmer” quotes are used because they are easier to type and have a specific designation.

A designer with self-esteem who works on a book, a newspaper or a website will use the quotes common in a particular language.

To find out exactly which type of quotation marks is commonly used in the language, it’s enough to take a look at any printed edition made up without using a computer (roughly, in the former USSR republics—before 1990, in Western countries—before 1985).

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