When most of us squirmed through grammar lessons in grade school, we assumed that we were taught everything about reading and writing the English language that we would ever need to know. But if you use a computer for typesetting (as most of us do in this digital age), this is no longer true. You need to know a number of seemingly small but very important things if you want your work to be professional looking and grammatically correct.

In some cases, there are several variations of punctuation that we were taught came in only one style, such as dashes, quotation marks, and apostrophes. While this might be true for handwriting, it isn't so for typesetting. Prior to desktop typography, typographers were responsible for knowing the differences between similar characters, where they were located on the keyboard, and what was grammatically and typographically correct. Once designers, administrative assistants, and the rest of us started setting type, a lot of this information fell through the cracks unless one was particularly knowledgeable about typography.

This problem was compounded by the fact that many of these characters are hard to locate on the keyboard and (prior to glyph palettes) required depressing combinations of keys to access them. This, to some degree, can be attributed to the engineers who designed the standard keyboard layout that we all use today. Since there are a limited number of keys (and keyboard combinations) ...

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