All Caps feature, Braces, Brackets, Parentheses

Just a quick review of a feature today, and by association, some notes on punctuation.
Roman caps have a single descender, generally speaking; That’s Q. And that means that parentheses, or brackets, etc. that are designed for general usage tend to miss their mark when enclosing copy set in all caps. The lack of descenders causes the braces to appear out of touch with what they are attempting to enclose.


Manually adjusting the height of the brackets in InDesign (as I did above) is one option. There is a better way, and one feature in particular (common to Pro font packages) I’ll highlight here. It’s the All Caps feature.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.31.15 PM

When setting type in all caps, just highlight it, hit Shift + Command + K (Mac) or Shift + Control + K (Windows) and if the font supports the feature, the punctuation will spring into place. (Of course, not all fonts do support this feature, nor would all necessarily benefit from having it. Some fonts have punctuation that works fine for lowercase, uppercase, small caps, etc.) Speaking of small caps, enabling that feature may reveal an additional set of contextual punctuation, as well as change the figures to a set more appropriate for an all cap or small cap setting.


Above is Jordi Embodas’s Bulo, top, and Tim Ahrens’s JAF Bernino Sans, bottom, with All Caps and Small Caps features applied to different segments of each line. Note how Bernino Sans All Caps feature takes the cap height down slightly, handy for setting things like acronymns.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 4.58.00 PM

How does one check if these features are available in a given font? Check the Case-sensitive Forms box while testing some brackety punctuation. (Select the gear icon first.) The above is set in Frode Helland’s delicate Vinter.

On the grammatical usage of parentheses, brackets and braces—this varies by culture and convention, but the general rule to follow for American English usage is that parentheses are a first resort, and curly braces are the last, (each [nesting {inside} the] other) when necessary. (If a sentence is contained completely by parentheses, the period at the end is as well.) In math, the order of which set to resort to is the same, but its nesting order is just the opposite. {[()]}. British math is prettier: [{()}].

That’s it. Using Type continues here Thursday.

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