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1 Micro-typography with Tex

Micro-typography is the art of enhancing the appearance and readability of a


document while exhibiting a minimum degree of visual obtrusion. It is concerned
with what happens between or at the margins of characters, words or lines.
Whereas the macro-typographical aspects of a document (i.e., its layout) are
clearly visible even to the untrained eye, micro-typographical renements should
ideally not even be recognisable. That is, you may think that a document looks
beautiful, but you might not be able to tell exactly why: good micro-typographic
practice tries to reduce all potential irritations that might disturb a reader.
Some essential micro-typographical aspects are already taken care of by TEX
out of the box and in an outstanding manner namely, hyphenation and
justication, as well as kerning and ligatures. Other aspects are in the users
scope of responsi- bilities, e.g., to specify the right amounts of spacing around
punctuation characters, numbers, or quotation marks. On top of this, a number
of long-standing micro- typographic techniques have been introduced to the
TEX world relatively recently with pdfTEX, and have since also propagated to
LuaTEX and XTEX. These features make them the tool of choice not only for the
creation of electronic documents but also of works of outstanding time-honoured
typography: most prominently, character protrusion (also known as margin
kerning) and font expansion. Quoting Han The Thanh, the author of pdfTEX,
who writes in his thesis:
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