RE: Spaces after periods 'n such

Subject: RE: Spaces after periods 'n such
From: "Janoff, Steve" <sjanoff -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 17:43:15 -0700

Not to prolong this argument, but if you're going to quote the MLA
excerpt, then it helps us to quote the complete Q&A, for context
(http://www.mla.org/style_faq3):

"How many spaces should I leave after a period or other concluding mark
of punctuation?

"Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing
after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word
processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed
works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now
leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition,
most publishers' guidelines for preparing electronic manuscripts ask
authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print.

"Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be
prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks, this spacing
is shown in the examples in the _MLA Handbook_ and the _MLA Style
Manual_. As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with
using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor
or editor requests that you do otherwise."

Also, I believe (but am open to being wrong) that the MLA is more
concerned with doctoral dissertations and similar papers, which (at
least in the past) have been usually prepared in monospaced font
(usually typed, in fact), with double-spacing. So the
two-spaces-after-period idea would make sense here. I hardly feel this
is the ultimate style guide to settle the question, but personally, I
don't care what anyone does. I will note that recently, I used a tool
(XMetaL or Frame, I forget which but I think the first) that would
"absorb" additional spaces you typed -- you could type 10 spaces after
the period and only one would appear on screen, but the other 9 were
recorded in the code. Then when you produced your output (I just
noticed I typed 2 spaces after my own period -- I do that in e-mail,
even though I use one space in copy for publication), the additional
spaces showed up in the PDF or HTML or whatever. There ended up being a
setting -- it took some time to find -- where you could block the typing
of additional spaces after the first. In other words, you could type as
many spaces as you wanted after a period (or other ending punctuation),
but only the first one would be visible, would be recorded, and would be
output. It was a relief when we found that setting and turned it on.
No more worries about having to search through the underlying code for
double spaces (or more).

This has got to be one of the least significant issues in our field.
But it's interesting nonetheless. :)

Steve


-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Lauren
Sent: Friday, October 29, 2010 3:03 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Spaces after periods 'n such

...

My argument ... is that writers can follow their preferences, unless an
authority, like a client or a style guide, dictates otherwise. This
argument is supported by the Modern Language Association when it states,
"As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two
spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor
requests that you do otherwise." http://www.mla.org/style_faq3. Now, MLA
may be too academic for technical writing, but not all writing is
technical writing and some of us are stuck in our old ways, habits, and
muscle memories.

...

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References:
Re: Spaces after periods 'n such: From: David Neeley
Re: Spaces after periods 'n such: From: Brian Bertrand
Re: Spaces after periods 'n such: From: Chris Morton
Re: Spaces after periods 'n such: From: Lauren
Re: Spaces after periods 'n such: From: Chris Morton
Re: Spaces after periods 'n such: From: Lauren

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