Re: Spaces after periods 'n such

Subject: Re: Spaces after periods 'n such
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 09:46:23 +0300

Lauren,

What you might do is one thing; I prefer to cultivate the sort of eye
developed over centuries by type designers, layout artists, and those
who appreciate fine typography. To such folks, double-spacing after
periods in typset (printed) or online proportionally-spaced type is to
ignore the type design.

What you do in email is another matter entirely--that is a realm in
which many people still use monospaced fonts. However, for the vast
majority today that is not true either--and the double space still
seems excessive.

Double spacing--as with typewritten text--is often far too open to be
easily followed by the eye at standard column widths. The concept of
single, space-and-a-half, and double spacing are very rough
approximations of the most visually effective and pleasing line
leading--and, again, were introduced because of the limitations of the
typewriter.

Word processors, too, usually work on a formula for determining
leading based mostly upon point size. As I mentioned before, though,
that is at best another very rough approximation because of the
different visual appearance of various fonts in what is ostensibly the
same point size. It also breaks down quickly as the size is
substantially changed either to be much smaller or much larger than
average text. (As I also indicated, line leading is also a function of
column width. The wider the column, the more leading should be
increased as a general rule to make it easier for the eye to follow a
given line as it is read; however, at some point it becomes too loose,
and again the reading is constrained mostly because of a difficulty in
shifting the eyes back to the beginning of the next line--too loose,
and actually finding the next line becomes an issue).

You are fortunate that you do not work for me; during my working
lifetime, I was involved more than once in organizations in which part
of my task was to help create a style guide for publications ranging
from executive correspondence to sales collateral to technical pubs.
Your seeming insistence upon such elements as double spacing after
periods would have been an immediate violation of these corporate
style guides. To many, this kind of thing also is a bit jarring
visually, and often marks those of us with "more experience" (late
middle age or beyond) as being somewhat antiquated.

I also spent six years consulting with Xerox in California. They had
developed an entire book about publication style--a large volume of
498 pages which is still available:
http://www.amazon.com/Xerox-Publishing-Standards-Manual-Design/dp/0823059642/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288334295&sr=1-1

In it, you will find this sort of thing covered at some length IIRC.

I would be quite interested if you can find any style guide that would
support your approach on these matters.

If your organization has a layout artist--perhaps in an outside agency
that may prepare sales collateral--it is simple enough to bring up the
topic and find out what these factors may look like from a
professional standpoint. I would be interested if you find *any* who
may agree with your approach.

As I said before, this is a matter of the "eye of the beholder." I
find that most folks today who stick with the "double space after
periods" and such are mostly those who learned originally on a
typewriter and for whom that simply became "natural". At 61, I
obviously learned keyboarding on a typewriter--a manual one at
that--but have long since moved on as I learned more about the most
effective uses of typography.

David





On Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 09:00, <techwr-l-request -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> wrote:
> From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 08:31:09 -0700
> Subject: Re: Spaces after periods 'n such
> On 10/28/2010 12:17 AM, David Neeley wrote:
>>
>> It always astounds me that there are still questions among
>> professional writers regarding spaces following periods and other
>> stops.
>
> It is always amazing when this discussion comes around every couple of years and the same arguments are raised and the same disagreements arise.
>
>> Today, with typewriters mostly confined to museums, most type is
>> proportional. The width designed into the fonts used makes a double
>> space after a period far too open.
>
> I still like that visual break between sentences.
>
>> The only place where you should consider using a double space after a
>> period is in the rare instance in which you might be actually writing
>> text in a monospaced font--for the same reason it was used in
>> typewritten text for all those years.
>
> What about for people who receive text-only emails and do not care for the variable width fonts when viewing text-only emails?
>
>> If you look at proportional text with double spaces at an angle, you
>> can easily notice "rivers" of white space running through it from the
>> extra spacing. When you do this, it becomes a bit jarring to the eye,
>> in fact.
>
> Your eye, perhaps.  I am reading your email in a mono-spaced, text-only font because the variable width fonts cause my eyes too much strain.
>
>> However, the single take-away here is a simple rule for the most
>> effective appearance of your work: when using a proportional font,
>> single space after periods.
>
> I use double-space.
>
>> (When editing someone else's work, one of my first activities is to do
>> a search and replace for all double spaces after periods, replacing
>> them with single spaces. It's surprising, too, how many people
>> actually mix the two up in the same piece.)
>
> Funny.  I search and replace all of the single spaces with double, unless there is a controlling style guide or format requirements that state otherwise.  Let's work together! ;-)
>
>> As for "looking funny"--that is usually, if not universally, a problem
>> with the eye of the beholder.
>
> Does this font make me look funny?
>
> Lauren
>
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