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Does it compromise accessibility and search engines?

5:09 am on Feb 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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So, in typography we get taught to use certain ligatures and accents, such as:

ffl - shuffle
æ - encyclopædia

é - resumé

What I was wondering is, does anybody know if using proper typography techniques hinder aural narrators (can it pronounce them?) and other things?

What about search engines? I.. know this part should probably go in the SEO board but I didn't want to split it :)

If a user searches for resume, will it find pages that have resumé on them?

For that matter, what about the use of en dash (–, –) or em dash (—, —) - I know Google finds a hyphen and considers it two words, but what about the legitimate uses for en and em dashes? Does google treat it as one long word and compromises keywords?

[edited by: Setek at 5:18 am (utc) on Feb. 14, 2007]

12:12 am on Feb 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I would say, probably, yes. I'll lay odds more modern blind readers do better, but maybe not. It probably depends upon their parsing engine. I suspect, that, like Web browsers, there are just a few basic ones that get redeployed.

SEO, probably yes, as well. This is because a word with a ligature character is, as far as the reader goes. I seriously doubt they would program their reader to equate the words. However, that may not be the case. I have a search system that uses metaphone(), and it ignored the difference between enye (ñ) and en (n).

So, I dunno.

I went back and did a bit more testing, and got inconsistent results. I noticed that when I deleted all instances of the enye from my DB, the search didn't match it and en. I think that maybe it was MySQL that was being so egalitarian.

4:58 am on Feb 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hmm... interesting. Thanks for the testing, cmarshall.

Searching easy things on Google, like encyclopædia brings up both entries containing 'encyclopædia', 'encyclopedia', as well as 'encyclopaedia'. But searching for 'fine' returned only entries containing that exact word - not fine (without the ligature.)