Strategies for inverted exclamation and question marks

Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 530
edited March 10 in Technique and Theory
Hello Spanish natives,
would you recommend the lowest point of inverted exclamation and question marks to sit on the baseline in an all-caps font?
Do you make .case versions? Are these marks used in other languages?


  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,531
    edited March 11
    For a full U&lc font, you need three sets: default, <case> and <c2sc>.
    Leave the default inverted marks in <smcp>, as per Juan Luis’ example.
    (For <smcp>, the only characters involved should be minuscule letters, not figures or punctuation.)
  • @Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer might be helpful in commenting on this. He spoke to my partner (Kaja Słojewska) a few months ago about what Spanish people prefer and this information was passed onto myself. If memory serves, I believe the lowercase version of the inverted question mark should have the dot resting on the x-height, and a CASE should have the dot at the cap height. This is going from memory though, so it may be best to get Rainer's comments. 
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 974
    edited March 19
    Non Spanish speaker here. I think aligning them with the caps looks kind of dumb. I don't have a rule for alignment. It's like the @ symbol...just move it until it feels like it's in the right place.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,851
    edited March 19
    My approach is very simple:

    The default /exclamdown/ and /questiondown/ are aligned with their dots on the x-height (usually with a small overshoot). Since I often proportion my descenders to equal the difference between x-height and cap height, this means that the descending Spanish punctuation signs neatly align with my descender depth. Sometimes the descenders are a little deeper than the punctuation signs, and this looks okay too. If the punctuation signs end up deeper than the descenders, that would be a weirdly proportioned typeface, and maybe it would make sense to shorted or slightly raise the punctuation signs.

    I treat the / and / variants for all-caps settings simply as rotated versions of /exclam/ and /question/ (with adjustment to overshoot at the baseline as necessary for the design). In typical text faces in which the height of ! and ? aligns to the cap height, this will also mean that the dot on the rotated forms aligns to the cap height, but this method also works for designs in which these punctuation signs are shorter than the caps. The important thing for the .case variants isn't that they align to the cap height, but that they sit on the baseline and do not descend.

    If one does have a design that, for stylistic reasons, uses shorter ! and ? in mixed case settings, you can also consider adding taller, cap aligning variants for use with all caps. So in addition to / and / you might also have / and / When deciding what variants to put in the 'case' feature, don't presume that this is a fixed, standard set common to all fonts: think about how you want all-caps settings in your particular design to look. [Of course, we can't actually rely on the 'case' feature being used whenever text is set in all caps, but it's the only way we have to signal intention.]
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,531
    Quite often, I can’t align the dot with the x-height, as the descenders are too short. It’s possible to cheat a little, by vertically scaling the glyph, but I don’t really see a problem with the dot being a bit above the centre line. As already noted, the next letter is generally a capital. As long as the body of the mark doesn’t align with the x-height, no problem. Better to have it above the x-height than way below the descender. Here is a comparison of the normal text size of a type with the Micro (“agate”) version, that has exceptionally short descenders:

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