Do you want to set better type? Are you using Adobe InDesign? Well, then: turn the god-damned Optical Margin Alignment on. Every day I read copy that I know full well has been set using ID, and the mook manning the console did not hang the punctuation. People: it's a check box. Go turn it on now. I'll wait.
Some folk think that hanging punctuation only matters when you're setting a justified text block. Those folk are wrong. It matters all of the freaking time. In range-left setting, using optical margin alignment maintains an even left margin (see above*), and pops punctuation outside the right margin (just as it would in full justification), which makes it easier to set a lively rag. If you happen to be centering something (which you probably shouldn't – who are you, Jan Tschichold?), the setting removes punctuation from play, meaning that the lines of letters are properly centered. In range-right setting – don't use range-right setting. We don't really read punctuation unless it's calling attention to itself, which it will, if you let it.
Optical margin alignment is a luxury. In the old days (QXP 4.11), I had to use positive margins in my text blocks and set up different paragraph styles to accommodate different types of punctuation. Every time I ran into a quote or hyphen, I had to make a hard break and apply the appropriate style to hang the punctuation. The technical term for this is Big Pain In My Ass. Because then there would be copy changes and the flow would go to crap and I'd have to do it all over again.
You may say: "Well, Mr. McIsaac, optical margin alignment is a global setting and if I set it for my text size, it makes my headlines look weird." I'll grant you that. It should work at the paragraph level. But if you care about your craft, it's only a small Pain In My Ass to set the heads separately and deploy them as inline objects.
End of sermonette. Next time, we'll talk about changing the default H&J settings so that your copy doesn't boast wordspacing through which you could slalom an F-650 (Crew Cab with Pro Loader Straight Frame; dooley, standard; Caterpillar C7 Diesel option).
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