One lump or two, luv?
Friday 17 February 2012, 6.46pm HKT
THIS IS A SIDEBAR to the four-part ‘You don’t blog?’ mega-feature that’s published since 15 FEB 2012.
This sidebar chiefly relates to the copydesk advice mentioned in Part 4 of the series.
* * *
Do we use one or two character spaces
after the full stop (period)?
Ask a professional writer or a journalist (even better, a professional typesetter), and 99% of the time they’ll tell you it’s one character space.
Don’t take their word for it — take mine!
Actually, you shouldn’t have to ask. At your age, you should have been tee’d up on it already.
I happen to be a trained secretarial typist (85 wpm) and shorthand transcriber (25 wpm) as well as a trained typesetter (which is why I’m in the printing business and not practise law).
I can’t answer for earlier generations of typists, but Pitman’s Typewriting courses back in the 1970s taught two things:—
Two character spaces between sentences when using fixed-pitch founts (such as Courier and suchlike fount slugs on fixed-pitch typewriters)
One character space between sentences when using proportional founts (such as those in typesetting and on webpages, including proportional-pitch typewriters)
If two or three generations of professional typists since 40 years ago have learnt those two rules, you’ve got no excuse for not knowing!
“Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left.” — Farhad Manjoo (via turri design)
Never mind the bollocks.
Read this person’s article about why two spaces after the full stop is wrong, if you don’t trust what I tell you.
Another writer tells us HTML coding automatically ignores and corrects the two-space usage.
Truth to told, most blogging services won’t correct. They’ll just let it run. That’s because there are still numerous battalions of doublespaceheads out there, and these doublespaceheads will surely go ballistic at the mere possibility of being ‘corrected’ by some disembodied HTML coding autopilot and relocate their blogs elsewhere.
Not always a good business tactic to correct others, it seems, particularly via autopilot.
Never mind the bollocks.
Since the appearance of the electronic typewriter with proportional spacing in the 1970s (like the IBM Selectric ‘Golfballs’), there’s no need to put in two spaces. Read the full 2011 article in Slate magazine, which is seriously on the button.
(I had a green-coloured IBM Selectric II typewriter, made in 1974 and weighed a ton, that I used to bash on constantly until overuse completely totalled it.)
Predictably, there’s always one singular individual who takes the opposite view in a rather elegantly reasoned monograph, and used double spacing throughout his text. His reasoning may intellectually elegant, but he’s still wrong.
(Off-topic here a bit: Indeed, zeroing in on the minutiae of details and reasoning things out according to some predetermined set of ‘logical’ steps don’t necessarily make your conclusions right. You’re just ‘making things fit.’ A lot of intellectuals and academicians are operate like that, to be honest.)
Never mind the bollocks.
Let’s look at the the other side of ‘facts’:—
FACT: Xerox Corp. started the DTP (desktop publishing) craze around 1977 (Star Wars era) by developing hardware and software that use typesetting-like elements for typography.
FACT: Then came a DTP typesetting program called TeX (pronounced ‘tek’) in 1979, which was extended by LaTeK (‘laytek’) in the 1980s — both of which used true proportional founts.
FACT: Then DTP hit mainstream paydirt when the Apple Macintosh 128K computer hit the markets in 1984. What was used in the Mac quickly got taken up by Windluzer 1.0 in 1987 (in MS Write) through to Windoze 3.1 in 1992.
In other words, fully 28 years of using proportional founts on PCs and there’s a sea of morons out there who still haven’t gotten the hang of it.
Dead slow children!
All webpages (and your blog is a series of webpages) use proportional founts (unless you customise it to a fixed-pitch fount like Courier or Lucida Console — then you really are brain-damaged). Two character spaces between sentences cause your text to run with ungainly rivers of white space.
Please grow up and keep up with the times! You’re living in the 21st century now. Read my post on draft vs. manuscript.
Some philistines hard up on the brain department say they find it more readable with two character spaces — the “wider space” between sentences in printed matter.
The “wider space” ISN’T made up of two character spaces, numbskull. That’s actually an en-and-quarter space (sometimes an em space). That’s handsetting, idiot.
At the very least, these otherwise blameless individuals clearly are reading for sentence separation rather than actual content — the ‘message’ behind the sentences. This, I’ve noticed in some people for a demoralisingly long time.
Modern typesetting output machines — since the likes of the Linotype Model 6 molten-lead linecaster (1965) and the Linotronic 202N imagesetter (1972: the one I was trained on) — make automatic intersentential space adjustments according to the fount used (unless the automatic setting is overridden for some special typographical effect).
Don’t bother rationalising your preference for two character spaces with me — you don’t know enough about this than I do.
This is how I roll:—
On a computer or a compositor (and anything else that uses proportional fount), I automatically, unconsciously, conditional-behavourially, operant-conditioningly type one space after the full stop.
On a typewriter (or anything else that uses fixed-pitch fount), I automatically, unconsciously, etc, type two spaces after the full stop — even when thoroughly distracted by high-octane, high-penetration porn.
Why can’t YOU do that?
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 18 May 2013 (updated tags)
Images: Manual typewriter keyboard via Online Business Blogger | Two-space ban via Doobybrain | Ascii art chick via PingMag | Scribus desktop publishing via Nyutech | Fount spacings via Tom Sarazac | Books by Ian Britton via freefoto.