Growing Up in the Profession

Subject: Growing Up in the Profession
From: "Daniel E. Wise" <dewise -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 1996 22:10:43 -0800

I read Eric Ray's post concerning the rather shallow topics that
sometimes seem to go on in never-ending threads. I have to agree that
we seem to worry some of them more diligently than a playful puppy
working on destroying an old shoe. I think it is time some of us grow
up in the profession a little.

I call myself a professional. I have reference books on my shelf and I
consult them. I find all sorts of wonderful things in them. I cite
them as authorities when questions such as the that/which or
online/on-line type come up. When I can stick The Book under the
questioner's nose, that is usually sufficient. No need to consult the
Web for advice.

I was about to post a note about letting "the ear" guide your choices
when I read James J. Kilpatrick's column in Sunday's paper (Feb. 11).
He said it better than I could.

"The best advice I can offer writers is to follow their ears. We
should listen to the music of words. We may read silently but we
listen constantly."

He goes on to quote British novelist Jeanette Winterson's remarks in
"Publishers Weekly: "If a sentence jars on my ear, I count it out
syllabically and can see what's wrong."

If we can't do this, we had best head back to high school English for a
refresher in the basics. If a sentence jars your ear, it is probably
not a good sentence.

RE: Ragged Right. This topic has been around as long as I can
remember and study after study has been done that showed reader
comprehension was impaired by justified right in technical material.
The rivers of white that are forced by awkward spacing, even with the
most sophisitcated computer fonts, DO force the eye downward.

The new book noted recently on type and layout didn't tell me anything
I didn't already know from having read STC journals and other books on
graphics, typography, and printing over the years.

And, yes, blocks of text set in san-serif fonts ARE harder to read than
the same passages set in romanesque serrif faces. Why do you suppose
all book publishers set novels, text books, etc. in "book" faces?

Good people, let's all strive to be professionals and grow up a little.
Leave the nit picking to the novices and wannabe's.

Daniel E. Wise
Wise Words
1120 Columbiana Road
Homewood, AL 35209
e-mail dewise -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com


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