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Fancy Quote Marks

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 11:07:35 -0500
Message-Id: <199903221613.LAA22036@smtp-gw2.vma.verio.net>
To: "WAI IG" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Dear Gurus,

I opened myself up for criticism when I last asked the group about
typographic effects -- namely getting a double space after a period that
ends a sentence -- but I am eager to address another one of my pet
peeves...

Please respond on or off the list as your conscious dictates.

What is the preferred way to get fancy quotation marks?  I am talking about
the ones usually used with modern word processor where the left double
quote mark looks like a tiny 66 and the right like 99.  Some word
processors refer to this as "smart quotes".

I have not tested rigorously, and have not tried the most current flavors
of Netscape Navigator (NN) and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE).  Lynx 2.8,
by the way, handles all of these approaches fine (well, except for the last
one, which is my least favorite).  My testing was limited to a few
different PCs and versions of NN and IE (the same ones I use to check other
code I write). 

My observations so far for a few techniques:

<Q> ... </Q> is the preferred HTML 4.0 code, but is not supported by either
NN or IE!

<&LDQUO;> ... <&RDQUO;> would be my second choice, but this technique does
not seem to work with earlier versions of graphical browsers.

<&#147;> ... <&#148;> works everywhere I have tried (including Macintosh
platforms).

<&#8220;> ... <&#8221;> avoids the supposedly unsupported characters in the
range <&#128;> thru <&#159;> but does not work everywhere I tried!

`` ... '' is a technique I have seen on many pages.  This will always
display, but the single apostrophe is itself a problem.  It is frequently
neutered, so it too is unattractive.   Monospaced fonts, text applications
(including Lynx), and screen readers will all expose this kludge.  Who
knows what AI agents (search engines, spiders, crawlers, etc.) make of such
constructs (probably they just ignore it)!

FrontPage/Word/WordPerfect and the like would have you cut and paste the
character directly into the code they generate.  This, of course, works
only on graphical Windows browsers, and results in invalid HTML.

My main questions are as follows:

Which of the above techniques is going to be the most compatible?

Do screen readers have problems with any of the above techniques?

What are the hazards of using <&#146;> and the like?  Is the implementation
for this technique really better supported than the others or was I just
too lax in my testing?

Conversely, would you argue that I should just settle for the usual
<&QUOT;> ... <&QUOT;> construct (which works everywhere, but is universally
unattractive)?

And some other related HTML trivia that does not belong on this list, but I
have been most unsuccessful finding the answer elsewhere:

What can one do for a Macintosh computer so that browsers render certain
HTML special characters -- like <&SUP2;> and <&FRAC12;> -- correctly?  I
just upgraded to NN 4.51 and this problem is still not addressed!

Thank you for your time.

Bruce Bailey, DORS Webmaster
http://www.dors.state.md.us/
Received on Monday, 22 March 1999 11:13:23 GMT

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