Visible Language

An independent scholarly journal published continuously since 1967.

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Marks, Spaces and Boundaries: Punctuation (and other effects) in the typography of dictionaries

Paul Luna

ProQuest  EBSCO

Dictionary compilers and designers use punctuation to structure and clarify entries and to encode information. Dictionaries with a relatively simple structure can have simple typography and simple punctuation; as dictionaries grew more complex, and encountered the space constraints of the printed page, complex encoding systems were developed, using punctuation and symbols. Two recent trends have emerged in dictionary design: to eliminate punctuation, and sometimes to use a larger number of fonts, so that the boundaries between elements are indicated by font change, not punctuation.