Spacing between sentences, the meaning of life, and the man in the moon

Subject: Spacing between sentences, the meaning of life, and the man in the moon
From: "Michael West" <mike -dot- west -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 2010 21:55:50 +1100

It's taken me a few days find time to ponder why I always cringe when I read
here, in what I prefer to think of as a professional forum, comments about
"how many spaces" should or shouldn't separate one sentence from the next in
typeset material.

I think it's because I expect a professional technical writer to understand
the difference between typing and setting type; and setting, or composing,
type is what you're actually doing (badly or well) when you use digital
fonts on a computer.

I expect a professional tech writer to understand that there's really no
such thing as "one space" or "two spaces." Character spacing is measured,
not counted. There is an en space, an em space, a triple em space, and so
on; but the phrase "two spaces" describes nothing definite. It means tapping
the space bar twice and devil take the hindmost. It's nebulous, and as
people paid to deal in the specific and the concrete, we shouldn't mess with

To such people I would say this. If your readers have trouble knowing when
they've arrived at the end of a sentence, it's very likely that they are
reading weak, rambling, indecisive sentences. An extra "space" or two is not
going to help much with that.


Michael West

Melbourne, Australia


Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


Previous by Author: RE: RoboHelp vs Flare
Next by Author: Re: Fort Collins, CO and tech writing
Previous by Thread: Instructions for Everyday Tasks
Next by Thread: Re: Spacing between sentences, the meaning of life, and the man in the moon

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads