Re. Two spaces vs. one after periods

Subject: Re. Two spaces vs. one after periods
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 29 May 1995 14:52:51 PDT

The "two spaces after a period" rule was, I thought, a convention
for typescript, which would have been adopted around the
time typewriters became universal for business and manuscript use in
the early part of this century.

Unlike handwriting and typeset text, typewriters produced fixed-pitch
(monospaced) output, had relatively poor quality (especially when
your realize that many people were stuck with carbon copies rather
than originals), annoyingly long lines, and almost no symbols.

Many conventions designed to make typescript more readable flew in
the face of contemporary typesetting: indenting paragraphs by a whopping
five spaces, for instance, or double-spacing manuscripts, or putting
two spaces after a period.

All of these conventions were adopted to solve specific problems in
dealing with typescript. None of them should have the slightest relevance
to typeset text unless you've somehow slid into a Twilight Zone between
typescript and typesetting. Few word-processing packages seem to have
been designed by the luminaries of typography -- precious few DTP packages
have, either.

There's a lot more to typography, book design, and publishing than most
people realize. It's worth studying. (So are illustration, photography,
writing, and editing, for that matter. It's hard to get by without a
smattering of all of them, these days.)

-- Robert


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