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I have received a table of data to put on an html page. Many values in the second column are repeated for a few rows. The author indicated this by using starting double quotes (“), probably automatically converted by Word from a simple typed double quote.

So it looks something like this:

=======================
| name | group  | age |
=======================
| John | Family | 45  |
-----------------------
| Sue  |   ,,   | 23  |
-----------------------
| Alex |   ,,   | 36  |
-----------------------
| Jane | Friend | 38  |
-----------------------
| Rob  |   ,,   |     |
-----------------------

I have used two commas, which I think is customary in Dutch handwriting, but the web page is in English.

What is the typographic convention to indicate "the same value as above"? If relevant, I would like to use the British English convention.

Should I use a character or combination of characters, or would row spanning be appropriate? Or should I just simply repeat the values?

A WCAG 2.0-compliant convention would is preferred.

7
  • Isn't it easier to read the table if you just add the same content as the one above? I think it's fine for handwriting to save time but there's no excuse on a digital medium... – Luciano Jan 22 '20 at 14:49
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    @luciano not nesseserily having less clutter matters. Ive always seen it done with -"- where the lines are in middle of the line . – joojaa Jan 22 '20 at 15:27
  • @joojaa - I've never seen it used in the UK with lines, and the OP does specifically mention British convention. I very much suspect this may differ by country. – Billy Kerr Jan 22 '20 at 15:46
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    @BillyKerr I'm also in the UK, and have seen - " - " - quite often for long repeated lines, or several columns of repeated values in a table without vertical lines. This may be old-fashioned; I'm thinking of paper books, but all the ones on the shelf over my desk simply repeat values – Chris H Jan 23 '20 at 9:29
  • "I have used two commas, which I think is customary in Dutch handwriting". I'm pretty sure you were just mistaking them for commas, because in Dutch also quotation marks are used – Ivo Beckers Jan 23 '20 at 10:37
20

You're looking for the ditto mark. There's a character specifically for this, U+3003 〃 in the Unicode CJK Symbols and Punctuation block, and you could also use a double prime, U+2033 ″ from the General Punctuation block, which should always look similar.

I don't recall ever seeing a quotation mark U+0022 " used for this except with typewriter or sans-serif fonts, where a quotation mark closely resembles a double-prime. Wikipedia claims that a quotation mark can be used, but only one of the four dictionaries they reference uses a quotation mark (and it is in a san-serif font); the other three use the Unicode ditto mark.

6
  • 4
    You should probably use the actual ditto mark; double prime has an entirely-different semantic meaning, so if you’re digging into unicode for a special character it ought to be the right one. If it’s too big, that’s a job for font size/selection, not choosing a different character. – KRyan Jan 23 '20 at 14:25
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    @KRyan well yes but weirdly enough when i suggested this is the reason to use unicode roman numeral or unicode minus and not minusdash 50% disagree strongly. I suspect people in normal walks of life do not care or worse oppose such ideas. Nor do many fonts have this character. – joojaa Jan 23 '20 at 15:15
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    @joojaa I could understand using double quotation mark for those reasons—but double prime has to be at least as “difficult” as the ditto mark here. – KRyan Jan 23 '20 at 15:17
  • I've seen the quotation mark being abused for this a lot. Never knew it had its own character. – Mast Jan 23 '20 at 15:38
  • Er, well, on a typewriter there is only the double quote symbol that could be used. Now the ditto mark has its own character, but I wouldn't get too excited about seeing a double quote. – Mick Jan 24 '20 at 8:21
29

You can often just omit the rows entirely If you take a look at the viral gif sequence (below) you can see that the repetitions are just omitted and it makes a significant visual improvement to the table (for more on the subject read Edward Tufte).

enter image description here

As alternatives you can use the double qutation mark or a -"- (maybe — " —) symbol instead. You could also do the line in diagonal. In engineering literature you also sometimes use just diagonal lines (maybe that is German style).

PS: be careful about omission of values that could possibly be omitted (but really use N/A or something). But deleting is great if you have a value that must be set. Omitting values works especially well on first column items.

For fun: Beautifying your table would look like:

 group    name   age 
-----------------------

 Family   John    45  
          Sue     23  
          Alex    36  

 Friend   Jane    38
          Rob      ?           
9
  • 3
    Just curious: what's wrong with Calibri? – Eric Duminil Jan 23 '20 at 11:25
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    @EricDuminil it's apparently the new Comic Sans. – zakinster Jan 23 '20 at 13:55
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    @EricDuminil People who care about fonts can't help but pay attention to what fonts are being used. And some default choices, such as Calibri, Helvetica (Neue) and Arial are just overused. – MechMK1 Jan 23 '20 at 13:55
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    @zakinster: Thanks for the link. She's allowed to have her opinion. Sure, Calibri is overused simply because it's a default on the most used OS. I find it pleasing though, and using it shouldn't directly mean that one doesn't care about beautiful fonts. – Eric Duminil Jan 23 '20 at 14:03
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    @zakinster The complaints made there are very different from those made against Comic Sans. The more accurate statement would be that it’s the new Times New Roman—which, of course it is, Microsoft replaced Times New Roman as its default font in Office with Calibri. Microsoft won quite a few awards for Calibri’s design when it was new; this is just the usual complaint about something being overused, which is always going to apply to whatever default they choose. And frankly, as much as I love fonts, the author is grossly overstating the significance of font (non-)choice in most contexts. – KRyan Jan 23 '20 at 14:21
11

In English a double quotation mark is often used as the symbol for ditto. I haven't seen two commas used for this. As far as I know, it should be the double quotation mark in English. Not sure about other languages however. I can only answer for British English (I'm from the UK).

Ditto:

  1. the aforesaid; the above; the same (used in accounts, lists, etc., to avoid repetition). Abbreviation: do. Symbol: ″

Origin of ditto 1615–25; Italian, variant of detto < Latin dictus said, past participle of dīcere to say; see dictum

Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/ditto

As far as whether or not you should use it would depend on your intended audience, or whether it's practically useful or not. Most British people would certainly understand its use. I can't answer for other English speakers unfortunately.

Just a note on usage. If the row of text above contains multiple words, the symbol is sometimes written under each word, like this:

Forename    Surname/s        Age
James       Dickson Smith    14
Harriot        "      "      21

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