Re: Punctuation in the computer age

Subject: Re: Punctuation in the computer age
From: "Glanbrok, Slayer of Bluntskulls" <conehead -at- OVERTHE -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 15:44:13 -0400

Michael Collier wrote:

<Periods had two spaces after them, >

Why is this a problem? Leaving 2 spaces after a period at the end of a
sentence seems to be a sensible way of improving readability. Or is this
an old typist's habit that the computer age has solved somehow?

Yes, it is an old typist's habit!

Before computers there were typewriters. Before typewriters there was only movable type ("hot lead"). It was the advent of the typewriter that led to the popularity of monospaced typefaces. (Possibly the creation thereof, but don't expect me to look it up.) Line justification in the days of movable type allowed the compositor (the person who filled up the little boxes with lead slugs of type) to vary the space after periods. In the age of the "dumb" typewriter, which began at the device's invention and ended with semicomputerized typewriters in the 1970s, the typist's only option to improve the appearance of monospaced type was to add an extra space. With proportional type, tradition holds that you don't need the extra spaces. You certainly don't need them if you have your wordprocessor justify the para.

Let's not get started on an even greater aberration of the typewriter age...

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