Re: The recurring space debate; was: Subject:,Re: Advice on starting out; dealing with employers

Subject: Re: The recurring space debate; was: Subject:,Re: Advice on starting out; dealing with employers
From: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 2 May 2011 08:38:17 -0700

Well put, David. Thank you.

On Sun, May 1, 2011 at 1:51 AM, David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> As usual, typography used to enhance the reading and comprehensibility
> factors of a piece extends far beyond single or double spacing after
> periods.
> For those such as dyslexics who see text "jumping around on the page" there
> are probably other issues at work in addition--such as line length and
> leading and of course the fonts chosen.
> The single vs. double space after periods essentially became an issue with
> typewriters and generations of machines with only fixed pitch fonts rather
> than proportional ones and no choice of space widths other than multiples of
> the single space width built in to the machine.
> Most arguments about the issue today seem to stick stubbornly to a
> technology which is becoming vanishingly rare (you may have seen the article
> about the last typewriter factory in the world closing recently in India).
> Proportional fonts have a variety of spaces at hand, and the most modern
> computer writing tools take advantage of that fact--and do not permit the
> use of more than one space after periods.
> Gene mentioned "at one time" that DoD documents required double spacing
> after periods. I would be fascinated to see if that were still any sort of
> requirement.
> The only place I see a real use for multiple spaces is in programming
> languages that use the spaces as a part of the required syntax. Arguments
> about double spacing in regular text seem for the most part to be a rather
> stubborn clinging to what one may have learned in typing classes decades
> ago.
> As it happens, later this month I will celebrate my 62d birthday. I, too,
> had high school typing training that did its best to build the double space
> after periods into my muscle memory. However, when I moved to proportional
> fonts a few decades ago and became interested in the best possible results,
> I retrained myself to move on from the world of fixed pitch fonts and their
> artificial conventions. I would urge those of you who are substantially
> younger to do the same thing.
> If you really want to see what well-set typography looks like in your own
> writing, I suggest you consider downloading the free Lyx authoring
> application. Since it is based on the TeX typsetting language, the output is
> gorgeous--and you will not find any multiple-space-after-periods no matter
> how much you try.
> To create the most readily intelligible text, meanwhile, a careful analysis
> of your font choices would be in order. The ubiquitous "Times New Roman"
> isn't that great a choice for this. The Times family was developed to
> squeeze in a maximum number of characters in narrow newspaper columns while
> retaining some readability. There are far better choices today for documents
> with wider column widths--although I am not particularly taken with the
> trend to all sans-serif fonts for long text. Those with visual or cognitive
> challenges, I find, appreciate the visual hints given by serifs to help
> guide the eye along the line of print.
> I also prefer fonts with reasonable x-heights and only modest ascenders and
> descenders. Again, that seems to help the visually impaired to distinguish
> more easily between similar characters.
> Line leading, too, plays a part. Too dense, and your eye can wander from
> one line to another. Too loose, and your eye has difficulty finding the
> right line after you finish the last one. Both are especially bad for the
> visually or cognitively impaired. However, the optimal line leading is a
> function of the font and font size, the material, and the line width. It is
> difficult to reduce this to some mechanical formula--which is why word
> processors only approximate a reasonable leading and often produce output
> that looks fairly terrible.
> This obviously can only scratch the surface. Learning to use a single space
> after periods in proportionally-spaced text, however, is a good beginning.
> David

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:

The recurring space debate; was: Subject:,Re: Advice on starting out; dealing with employers: From: David Neeley

Previous by Author: Small-Scale Document Mgmt
Next by Author: Re: Small-Scale Document Mgmt
Previous by Thread: The recurring space debate; was: Subject:,Re: Advice on starting out; dealing with employers
Next by Thread: Re: The recurring space debate

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

Sponsored Ads