Monday, April 18, 2011

Gotta Dash

One of the most interesting aspects of working on Repton: The Lost Realms was having my sleeve artwork and inserts proof-read by Michael S. Repton. Michael is a professional proof reader, a linguist and someone who really knows his stuff.

Michael S. Repton playing Galaforce
Photo Courtesy Joel Rowbottom

One of the things that Michael disliked about my copy was my use a minus sign to indicate a pause. I had to replace every single one with something called a spaced en-dash.

Of course, I’m not really to blame for this – computer keyboards are rather deficient in the punctuation department. As a rule, they don’t have a real apostrophe or proper opening and closing quotation marks. But whilst your keyboard doesn’t have these symbols, your computer almost certainly does. If you have a look at the Character Map application you can find them all.

Character Map on Fedora 14 - Click to enlarge

The problem is that using the Character Map application every time you wanted an apostrophe or quotation marks would be too slow on a large document. Fortunately there is another way of entering these punctuation marks in GNU/Linux. You hold down Ctrl and Shift, press the u key, type the four digit Unicode value for the symbol you want and press ENTER.

So, an en-dash is Ctrl+Shift+u 2013 ENTER. After a while, you find you remember the most common symbols. An apostrophe is u2019, quotation marks are u201c and u201d and so on.

Characters of Gnote

To help me remember the less common symbols I put a list on a pinned Gnote, which I can call up easily whenever I need it.

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