Sure there are lots of things you can do to improve yourself as a typographer, like reading books and becoming a generally more observant person. And there’s no getting around that. You’ll eventually have to do it and it’ll take time. “But what can I learn right now?,” you ask.
OpenType fonts have some big advantages to older TrueType fonts, or legacy PostScript Type 1 fonts. That’s because OpenType is an updated version of the TrueType font format spec, with improvements you notice, like OpenType features, and those you likely don’t, like the type designer’s ability to use PostScript outlines instead of TrueType outlines in the fonts.
The standard QWERTY keyboard, like its predecessor the typewriter, has a single key for opening and closing both single and double quotes (and for the apostrophe which is the same as a closed single quotation mark). From this we get ‘straight quotes,’ or ‘dumb quotes’ which at arm’s length and squinting, might pass for proper apostrophes and typographic quotation marks, or as I call them here, curly quotes.
To conclude my Adventures in Space series, I would like to take a look at the different kinds of spaces. While Spacing, Kerning, and Tracking focused on the space between characters, this last episode examines the spaces outside the words. There is quite a bit more than just the word space – if you select the Insert White Space fly-out from the Type menu in Adobe® InDesign® for example, you discover a dozen different space characters. And when you are designing for the web, Unicode provides several different space entities for online use. Using the right kind of space can make your life easier, and it will definitely help you improve your typesetting.