How to correctly choose protrusion for letters and hanging punctuation?

A small preamble: (mostly technical, can be skipped) I am a mathematician and prepare my documents with LaTeX. The documents made in LaTeX usually have very distinctive look because of the CM font (I hate it), widows/orphans, double spaces after fullstop and some other things that are purely unprofessional.

The one package to solve some of the issues is microtype, which among other features makes hanging punctuation and character protrusion available. The protrusion is set by giving two numbers: the promille of the character width it should be protruded on the left/right margin, e. g. A={1000,500} means that the letter “A” would be fully protruded if a line starts with it, and by half if a line ends with it.

The question itself: how should I choose the amount of protrusion for characters? Here are some stupid, to show the functionality, examples:

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A is not protruded, C by 20%, apostroph and (by 100%, and <<
by 50%.

In particular, I would like to know if

serifs should be protruded (on both sides?):

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letters with round shapes should be protruded (on both sides?):

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brackets and quotation marks should be protruded:

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punctuation should hang on the right side:

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But I want to know also some general tactics for correct settings.


The overriding “rule” for typographic practice is to do what looks good to you.

There is no “should.” There is no judge nor jury. It is a study, practice, and art.

Typographers strive for optical rather than mechanical alignment.

Hanging punctuation and such is used to achieve a heightened visual effect of aligned body text margins.

The same is true for the lettering that “sits” on the baseline. Some letters sit squarely on the baseline while others don’t to give the appearance of regularity when viewed in toto.

You can adjust the position to have an “o” that is tangent to the baseline but it will appear to “rise” if set that way in the context of the line. The bowl of the “a” is the same.

Source : Link , Question Author : Michael Freimann , Answer Author : Stan

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