In our hometown, Syracuse University Basketball is getting tremendous attention; and for good reason. The Men’s basketball team is having another amazing season, demonstrating the talent of players and coaches. As much coverage as the team is getting in print, online and in television there’s equal coverage in a wearable medium. T-shirts. Orange T-shirts are exploding across the landscape fueled by the success of the team and events like the Orange-outs at the Dome. All this excitement has revealed a disturbing trend in bad typography, the abuse of the apostrophe. The diagram below illustrates the case.
Please note the angle — or directional bias— of the apostrophe in the two expressions above. If you’ve been in and around Syracuse lately, there are plenty of examples of the top image. Unfortunately, it’s incorrect. According to Wikipedia:
Apostrophe showing omission
An apostrophe is commonly used to indicate omitted characters:
- It is used in contractions, such as can’t from cannot, it’s from it is or it has, and I’ll from I will or I shall.
- It is used in abbreviations, as gov’t for government, or ‘ 70s for 1970s. In modern usage, apostrophes are generally omitted when letters are removed from the start of a word, particularly for a compound word. For example, it is not common to write ‘bus (for omnibus), ‘phone (telephone), ‘net (Internet). However, if the shortening is unusual, dialectal or archaic, the apostrophe may still be used to mark it (e.g., ‘bout for about, ‘less for unless, ‘twas for it was). Sometimes a misunderstanding of the original form of a word results in an incorrect contraction. A common example: ‘til for until, though till is in fact the original form, and until is derived from it.
The same is true if the same statement is set in a Serif typeface as in Exhibit B below.
For more typographic examples on how apostrophes are used, and the difference between the prime mark, accent, and apostrophe, CreativePro has an article by Akira Kobayashi.
As Syracuse residents, it’s exciting to see our city and local University get such great attention. Be sure you’re showing your Orange pride correctly with perfect typography. We’ve created a Go ’Cuse PDF for download. You can use this layout for your office party, game-day banner or print onto transfer material to make your own typographically correct t-shirt.