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And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth
September 17, 2013 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Once upon a time, typographical practice was anarchy. Printers put in all sizes of spaces in haphazard ways, including after periods. Then, a standard emerged: the single space after a period. Unfortunately, the evil typewriter came along, and for some unknown reason, people began to put wider double spaces after periods. Typographers railed against the practice, but they could do nothing.

A history of spacing exploration (from 2011), via Ars Technica's "Editor's Picks" list, which apparently cannot be linked to directly.
posted by XMLicious (104 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously on MetaFilter: a long, contentious thread about this most important of all issues.
posted by escabeche at 1:03 PM on September 17, 2013


Suddenly everyone who wrote a typewritten book report that was to be 4 pages in the 1960s must go back and repeat the 6th grade.
posted by wcfields at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


And don't even let's start about the serial comma.
posted by NedKoppel at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I see what you did there.
posted by goethean at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2013


Serial commas are a gateway punctuation for serial killers.
posted by ubiquity at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have this article saved on Pinboard with the text "farhad manjoo's idiotic article on inter-sentence spacing demolished."
posted by kenko at 1:14 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I see what you did there.

With em quads even! Rockin' it 1771-style.
posted by XMLicious at 1:16 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Double space for life, man.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:16 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


You can have my Oxford comma when you pry it from my cold, dead, and calloused hands.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:17 PM on September 17, 2013 [46 favorites]


Double spaces is amateur hour. Any more than one tap of the spacebar and you're just playing with it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:19 PM on September 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Much to my disgust, there are English teachers at my college who still demand two spaces. I am forever having to reteach and argue with students in my graphic design and layout classes who have ben harmed by these them.
posted by cccorlew at 1:21 PM on September 17, 2013


Submitting articles to academic journals that have character limits (not word limits) has disabused me of the dreaded double-space after a period.
posted by dhens at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2013


Good to see that the tradition of not bothering to read the article lives on.
posted by kenko at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


I was taught in the late 90s-early 2000s to put two spaces in between sentences. Those were my formative typing years and it's pretty much stuck. I have to actually think about it if I want to put just one in there.

Even worse, it's reinforced by the phone's double space to place a period autocorrect, so I'll probably be doublespacin' forever.
posted by phunniemee at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess that should actually be "1771-ſtyle".
posted by XMLicious at 1:24 PM on September 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


At some point after college, I learned from a style manual, like AP or Chicago, that I should use single spaces after periods when I had been double-spacing up to that time. Then I read Bringhurst's book and other articles online corroborating the single-space rule.

Now I read the blog post linked here and I don't know what to believe because all these people state their positions so authoritatively. It makes me question everything I've ever learned, especially from really pedantic and insistent sources.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:28 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I keep thinking I need to go all Hubert Selby, Jr. in my own grammar, if just to frustrate pedants, but my attempts all just come off as juvenile in the way my wEIRD mIXED cAPiTALS "style" was juvenile when I traded my ALL CAPS APPLE ][ for a Commodore 64 and could BBS in varying capitAL splenDor, so I content myself with sticking to the textual tactics that I believe to be beautiful, clear, and correct despite the surges of public pedantic opinion.

Used to spend more time engaging in the various debates, but in the last round of push-and-pull over the pronunciation of GIF (which, in my mind varies on when you learned about it, what platform you were using, and if you believe Roland Barthes was right or wrong about dead authors) in my social circle, my pants were finally bored off.

On a computer, with a proportional font, I use one space because I think it's prettier.

On my manual typewriters, I use two because the spectral presence of my father will drag me to the land of hungry ghosts if I don't.

When I'm using Letraset, I just kern it freestyle, boy.

Simple!
posted by sonascope at 1:29 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


ius edto beq uo nsar
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nowadays, with computer typesetting, the cost of actually typesetting the text is tiny compared what it was when text was hand-set 150 years ago. Yet typographers cannot be bothered to do a few global search-and-replaces to insert custom spaces that would approximate the old standards.

Don't many fonts automatically do this anyway?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will not give up my double spaces. They are important to the rhythm of converting my thoughts to text via a keyboard.
posted by humanfont at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also: at work I frequently edit reports written by all sorts of people, some of whom add two spaces after sentences, and my first action is always to do a search and replace on multiple spaces. Feels good, man.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:34 PM on September 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is the double space a US thing? Don't see them here.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I ever own a boat, I would name it "doublespacin'!"

Preferably set in that baseball jersey font
posted by slogger at 1:39 PM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, the story I was told, that typewriters of yore were crappy (as was the paper, often) and demanded two spaces because the ink would spread out, that was bogus, right?
posted by emjaybee at 1:43 PM on September 17, 2013


As a young programmer I wrote an application to import Word and Excel into a commercial typesetting system. It had to import Word docs exactly.

After months of work I finally got to the point where I needed access to the typesetting system to check the imports. I import a Word doc into a "division", excel data into a "rider" and tell the typesetting system to "compose".

Look at the screen and all spaces were single. There was no way to key two spaces in a row. One of the typeset style developers fixed it somehow but it added like a week to the project.

There was also no search and replace.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:43 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


slogger: "If I ever own a boat, I would name it "doublespacin'!"

Preferably set in that baseball jersey font
"

Just mix comic sans and papyrus instead.
posted by boo_radley at 1:45 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we have the semicolon conversation again; because I'm still not sure I'm using that one correctly either. Thanks
posted by Blue_Villain at 1:45 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Y'all really ought to try looking at the article before having the usual religious argument here. It's actually pretty interesting. Behold:
Typographers seem eager to dismiss wider spaces as some sort of fad, either something ugly that originated with typewriters, or some sort of Victorian excess that lasted for a few brief decades and quickly petered out. But this is simply not the case. As we will explore presently, the large space following a period was an established convention for English-language publishers (and many others in Europe) in the 1700s, if not before, and it did not truly begin to fade completely until around 1950.
posted by echo target at 1:46 PM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Semicolons are like cilantro; everyone loves them so just throw that shit in everything.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:47 PM on September 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


Can we have the semicolon conversation again; because I'm still not sure I'm using that one correctly either.

That was incorrect.
posted by kenko at 1:47 PM on September 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


So, the story I was told, that typewriters of yore were crappy (as was the paper, often) and demanded two spaces because the ink would spread out, that was bogus, right?

If that was true, you'd need extra space after letters with a lot of ink at their right edge — not after periods. Even a really spread-out period isn't gonna do much damage compared to, like, a capital M.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2013


So I'm browsing this article in lynx, and there are two spaces after each period.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: ctrl+f -> "[space][space]"
WAT?!?
posted by Blue_Villain at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2013


Huh, until I read this article I, too, believed the myth that the double space was an artifact of monospaced typewriter fonts. I learned a new thing today.

Mind, I also don't really care. I double-space as a matter of muscle memory. When I type into forms like this that interpret the content as HTML the spaces show as single anyway.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:51 PM on September 17, 2013


You cheater, that's not even a double space! It's an em-space!
posted by Nomyte at 1:51 PM on September 17, 2013


Ugh, that was a long article. I plowed through it so you don't have to. Here is what you need to know, in the form of three quotes from the article:

While the modern convention is the single space, it is no less arbitrary than any other [...]

[...] the whole “big spaces after periods come from typewriters” claim is clearly a myth.

In the end, it’s an aesthetic choice, as is just about anything involving any artistry.

You're welcome. I had nothing better to do at work.
posted by Triplanetary at 1:58 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, that's a good article. It's a pity the FPP doesn't signal that the thesis in the pull quote is one that the article is going to demolish.
posted by yoink at 1:59 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh, that was a long article. I plowed through it so you don't have to...

Wow, this is a nice long article. I'm so glad I get to meander leisurely through it... :)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:01 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember, back in 1987ish, having to train myself from automatically putting in a double space while I was writing for one of the univerisity magazines. It was a Compugraphics typesetting system, all terminals hooked up to (iirc) a pdp-11 with a room containing the typsetting system, developer, and a woman who queued up, set, and developed all copy for the various publications that used her. She would reject any copy that had the period-double-space, as well as other "incorrect" codings for em-space, em-dash, en-space, en-dash, and so on. Since professors still wanted the double-spacing for papers, it was often a struggle to keep to the right style as I changed systems.
posted by Blackanvil at 2:03 PM on September 17, 2013


> Yeah, that's a good article. It's a pity the FPP doesn't signal that the thesis in the pull quote is one that the article is going to demolish.

I don't know. It's fun to laugh at all the people falling over themselves to post their agreement with the false version without reading the article.
posted by gilrain at 2:04 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a style choice.    It's fashion.    Fashion sensibilities change over time.    The next evolutionary step is obvious.    The time has come for quadruple spaces.    ITS TIME *MUST* COME!
posted by mazola at 2:05 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we have the semicolon conversation again; because I'm still not sure I'm using that one correctly either. Thanks

Each part of the sentence (before and after the semicolon) must be able to stand on its own.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:07 PM on September 17, 2013


You cheater, that's not even a double space! It's an em-space!

Even more specifically an em quad as described in the article. That was my attempt to signal, but too subtle I guess.
posted by XMLicious at 2:07 PM on September 17, 2013


It's more than just artistry. The purpose of typography is to make a text both beautiful and readable. Readability is determined in part by the physiology and cognitive process of reading, and partly by what one is used to. When it comes to UX (user experience), the mere fact that something is conventional can be an argument for using it—if you're going to buck convention and force your users to learn new idioms, your alternative had better bring a compensatory advantage to the table.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:12 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what freaks my shit out, though? Thin spaces before colons :  it's just too distracting for words.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Righteous article. Thanks for posting!
posted by fikri at 2:20 PM on September 17, 2013


> You know what freaks my shit out, though? Thin spaces before colons :  it's just too distracting for words.

I immediately go into maths mode, is my problem. The ratio of "before colons" to "it's just too distracting" is... or rather... wait, what?
posted by gilrain at 2:20 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just type everything in LaTeX, take a screenshot of the output, and sent them to people as PNGs.
posted by kmz at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm amazed at how worked up people get about this, for either side of the "debate". This is another one of those things that never became a Thing until the Internet came along and suddenly made Typesetting Experts and Font Fetishists out of every Tom Dick and Mary, who then felt compelled to re-educate the rest of us who were doing JUST FINE.

So you know what? I'm going to continue double-spacing after periods (even though all my Metafilter comments get auto-single-spaced), because I happen to prefer a little separation between sentences to improve readability and to prevent printed pages that look like unfriendly walls of unbroken text. And I'm going do a private trollface every time someone whines about it. So there. Just you try and stop me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I remember a time when paragraphs began with a 3-space indent. That really was a long time ago, wasn't it? And me with all this gray hair...
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


also I have nothing against Comic Sans
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2013


but I'll admit the misuse of quote marks gets under my skin a bit
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:39 PM on September 17, 2013


I'm freaked out by French typesetting standards. They put a thin space before !, :, ;, ?, and %, which is bad enough to my eyes, but in digital text, thin spaces are often not available, so they use a regular one, which looks horrible. I'm tempted to fix it every time I get French subtitles to process at work, but they'd of course insist I was screwing up their precious language.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:47 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm tempted to fix it every time I get French subtitles to process at work, but they'd of course insist I was screwing up their precious language.

They're probably just messing with you.
posted by goethean at 2:50 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So there. Just you try and stop me.

Find and Replace handles your two space dogma just fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:52 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grad school I had to co-write papers with groups of people who had differing opinions on spacing after periods. I'm still recovering.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:53 PM on September 17, 2013


Good article. To my knowledge English spacing has never been common in the German language area, and it certainly isn't today -- for me the top Google result for "two spaces after period" in German is a forum for US expats.

I'm the only German-speaking person I know who double-spaces in plain text files, and that's only because I find it useful to have (, ), is and as not stop after every abbreviation.
posted by wachhundfisch at 2:57 PM on September 17, 2013


Brandon Blatcher: Find and Replace handles your two space dogma just fine.

As does my [trollface] handle yours.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:59 PM on September 17, 2013


Overuse of the small tag should be repaid by ensmallification.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:01 PM on September 17, 2013


If you want to dive even deeper into the vagaries of typography, look up rivers. They are connected white undulations in the copy that sometimes come up when the spacing Gods decide. It happens with monospaced fonts, but it can also happen when words or phrases are repeated, or when a lot of words are of similar lengths. They are considered distracting, and only rewriting or spacing adjustments can resolve them.


The truth is professional typography relies on a whole toolkit of spacings, leadings, and kernings. It's almost infinitely more variable than any style guide acknowledges.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:05 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The article makes some good points but rather glosses over the fact that two spaces is not the same as an 'em quad'.

In most fonts an 'em quad' is more like 4 spaces, so on that basis 2 seems a reasonable compromise between 1900 style formatting and the one space modernists.
posted by Lanark at 3:09 PM on September 17, 2013


Space, the last frontier.
posted by Cranberry at 3:21 PM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In most fonts an 'em quad' is more like 4 spaces, so on that basis 2 seems a reasonable compromise between 1900 style formatting and the one space modernists.

The em-quad thing wasn't a 1900 standard; the reference comes from a 1771 work (and they're referring to it as an old rule of thumb). I think word spaces might have been somewhat larger in general then, so the ratio of the em-space to the typical word-space might have been less than 4 even using the em-quad. The real point, though, is that there's no plausible rule for "best practice" here--there's just habit, convention, personal taste and prejudice ("Metafilter:...").
posted by yoink at 3:23 PM on September 17, 2013


In space, no one can hear you




















scream.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:30 PM on September 17, 2013


I bet all those doublespacers pronounce "gif" wrong, too.
posted by Sokka shot first at 3:56 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The double spaces!! They burn us.
posted by koucha at 4:01 PM on September 17, 2013


I almost quit the public service* when I discovered our Assistant Deputy Minister insists on double spaces aftr periods and Times New Roman in briefing notes. (*Not really).
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:01 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dang y'all, I've got a blog post that says basically the same thing with a lot fewer words and throws in a bit about the proper use of the phrase "it's complicated". You can read it here. Also, I've provided the gist of this argument before on Metafilter (in fact it's in the link at the top of the page) so I thought this was all settled already yet.
posted by bfootdav at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2013


I would go through my boss's manuscripts with the Find and Replace function, eliminating all her double spaces. She never noticed, but I sure did.
posted by jb at 4:42 PM on September 17, 2013


Writers, here's the trick:

Read the submission requirements and/or the style guide of the place you're writing for (or wish to write for).

THEN FOLLOW THEM.

Otherwise, do whatever the hell you want.
posted by jscalzi at 4:44 PM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The em-quad thing wasn't a 1900 standard; the reference comes from a 1771 work

The author says
...I have not seen a single book on printing in the 1700s or 1800s—English or American—which does not state some form of this rule, if it has any discussion of spacing at all. And one need only pull any book from that period off a library shelf to see that the vast majority of books follow such a standard. There is no source for the single-space after a period rule (which during the nineteenth century was generally only found as a minority practice in some French publishing houses; much of Europe also used wide spaces).
So, if he's correct, it does seem like it would've been the standard in 1900 if it had been throughout the 19th century and the Chicago Manual of Style was explicitly specifying an em quad after any concluding punctuation all the way up until 1914, with an en quad (larger than a single space) suggested through 1937.
posted by XMLicious at 4:44 PM on September 17, 2013


Huh. Didn't know this was so complex. I just read an article last year about how ugly double-spacing looked to 21st century people and said to myself, OK, good point. I'll try one space. It's amazing how quickly forty years of habitually double-spacing after the period evaporated. I like the look of single spacing.

But as far as the colon goes :

As far as the colon goes: yesterday, reading a student paper, I had the same thought: that colon is way too close to the previous word. But adding a space: no, that is just wrong. I suppose it looks worse in some fonts than others.
posted by kozad at 5:14 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly everyone who wrote a typewritten book report that was to be 4 pages in the 1960s must go back and repeat the 6th grade.

I used a Pica 10 typewriter and scoffed at the extra work the Elite 12 users were doing.

People just don't remember what the typewriter era was like. I still remember when I took typing class in Junior High, and took a lesson on how to center text on the page. You set a tab stop in the center of the page and tabbed to it. Then you counted off your centered text, backspacing once for each two characters, backspacing once more if there was one odd character. Then you typed it. This turned out to be actually useful later in my life when I wrote accounting software and for some goddam reason they always wanted the headers centered. Space 40-Int(String length / 2); Print.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:15 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If The Elements of Typographic Style by Bringhurst is wrong I don't want to be right. My step one in formatting text is removing those double spaces.

That said his most important point in my mind is to know the rules and then break them deliberately and with purpose to server the needs of the reader. If you picture narrow justified columns where letter spacing can get cramped double spaces after sentences could further compact that letter spacing and worsen the text. This becoming the new approved way to do it doesn't mean it will always be correct.
posted by ridogi at 5:16 PM on September 17, 2013


In space, no one can hear you scream.

In , no one can hear you scream.
posted by ersatz at 5:25 PM on September 17, 2013


I was actually impressed by how nice the em-quad spacing looks in some of those examples. I can imagine that it would be particularly useful for making long sentences with a lot of subordinate clauses more readable.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:37 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was taught to doublespace between sentences so hard that on my first blog, which I called an "online journal" and handcoded in HTML, I used &nbsp to guarantee that my spaces would stick.

For a while, anyway. I realize it's a losing battle and just stick with spelling "you" with three letters like a literate person.
posted by Foosnark at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I learned touch typing in the 1980s as a student in a Catholic girls school which required the class for graduation. Have you ever had a yardstick smacked down upon the metal top of your IBM Selectric as you try to type in rhythm to a record reciting a document? These double-spaces aren't going anywhere. They were seared into my muscle memory.
posted by candyland at 6:21 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great article. All the single space hysteria is weird.
posted by bongo_x at 6:24 PM on September 17, 2013


pffffbunchofamateursseriouswritingdemandsscriptacontinuaminimsforever
posted by 23 at 6:32 PM on September 17, 2013


If only it had ever occurred to Robert Bringhurst to ever read a book published prior to 1910! O, the debt we owe to this brave, anonymous blogger for his willingness to go to such lengths.
posted by waldo at 6:55 PM on September 17, 2013


In Britain, nobody double-spaces after a full stop. We never have: we never will. Is it one of those constitutional guarantees, like those about guns and God, that we find so confusing?
posted by Devonian at 7:05 PM on September 17, 2013


This 'debate' just seems kind of silly to me.

First, there is no debate whatsoever among people who do this for a living. As the link even points out, one space has been the professional standard for at least the better part of a century. (Approximately one space. Typography is an art, not a science.) And, of course, since html automatically removes the extra spaces, it's the de facto online standard as well.

Second, for material produced in MS Word by non-designers, I just don't understand why anyone would care one way or another. Look, part of my job is to set and scrutinize type. I can be extraordinary anal-retentive about it to the point of absolute exhaustion, but I wouldn't judge an office memo or a student essay for its typography. If it isn't something that's professionally typeset, the odds are that almost everything about it is 'wrong' typographically anyway.

In that context arguing over the use of one or two spaces after a period is like arguing about the use of an oxford comma in a sentence that's riddled with basic grammatical and spelling errors. Why bother?
posted by seymourScagnetti at 7:06 PM on September 17, 2013


Writers, here's the trick:

Read the submission requirements and/or the style guide of the place you're writing for (or wish to write for).

THEN FOLLOW THEM.

Otherwise, do whatever the hell you want.


Hippie, free lover!
posted by Alles at 7:16 PM on September 17, 2013


I love my double spaces and I am pretty sure it is NOT A COINCIDENCE that I have also never lost a thumbwar.
posted by threeants at 7:22 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, the same person who advocates one space after a period is also a serial, single-spacer after a colon? Have you no shame, sir!
posted by Alles at 7:25 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I'll make an extension that automatically double-spaces after periods when posting on Metafilter.  If nothing else, it would be worth it to hear the aforementioned gnashing.  Alternately, it could have varying spacing:  double spaces after colons, perhaps, and really long spaces after periods.    The sky's the limit!
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:36 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I'll make an extension that automatically double-spaces after periods when posting on Metafilter.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your Kickstarter.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:37 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Britain, nobody double-spaces after a full stop. We never have: we never will. Is it one of those constitutional guarantees, like those about guns and God, that we find so confusing?

Only if you love freedom.
posted by misha at 8:54 PM on September 17, 2013


I can be extraordinary anal-retentive about it to the point of absolute exhaustion, but I wouldn't judge an office memo or a student essay for its typography.

That's what Dan Rather thought.

BTW if anyone needs additional spaces after their periods, I have a large box of en and em-dash letterpress lead type in various point sizes. It probably weighs 50 pounds, maybe only 40 if I remove the leading and "furniture." I would be glad to deliver this box of spaces to your head from a great height.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:58 PM on September 17, 2013


So basically some more-than-single-spacers are merely spacing trolls.

Figures, since there's no fucking use for multiple spaces after periods.
posted by mistersquid at 10:27 PM on September 17, 2013


So basically some more-than-single-spacers are merely spacing trolls.

No, we just care more than you do.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:32 PM on September 17, 2013


Excuse me, I'll be laughing at you all while working in LaTeX, which takes care of my spacing with a proper, between 1 and 2 spaces space. I mean, seriously, talking about proper typesetting while using word processors? Common.

Typography is an art, not a science. I have a feeling, though I could be wrong, that Donald Knuth would disagree with you.
posted by Canageek at 10:54 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Britain, nobody double-spaces after a full stop. We never have: we never will. Is it one of those constitutional guarantees, like those about guns and God, that we find so confusing?

It's just another confirmation of the British stereotype of the yank as a well meaning, but kinda dumb lout, easily confused by things like a full stop meaning the end of the sentence, so he needs a double space to make it clear to him.

Normal people could care less of course about double or single spaces after a period.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:07 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excuse me, I'll be laughing at you all while working in LaTeX, which takes care of my spacing with a proper single space after a full stop because I use
\frenchspacing
in the preamble like a civilized person.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:20 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Britain, nobody double-spaces after a full stop. We never have: we never will. Is it one of those constitutional guarantees, like those about guns and God, that we find so confusing?


I'm a British editor, and this couldn't be further from the truth. Find/replace is my friend.
posted by dudekiller at 2:22 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can take my Oxford comma when you pry it out of my cold, dead, and turgid prose.
posted by applemeat at 5:43 AM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, in theory we as a people have a lot if science about readability and retention and when I had more access to that stuff, it was entirely dismissed by people in charge of style and what was then called "look and feel."

One of most favoritest findings was that even people who shout themselves purple about how much easier it is to read text using rule X and how much they hate violations if rule X are ever bit better at reading, more likely to read and will retain more of what they read with rule X as people who approve of rule X.

Case in point: impact as a verb which has been in common use for 100 years. People who say they don't mind a bit appear to mind a great deal in a guinea pig situation.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:12 AM on September 18, 2013


Well, I don't approve of impacted guinea pigs, either, if that makes you feel better.
posted by misha at 12:25 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I had a couple of those and the oral surgeon charged me like two grand to take them out.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 1:10 PM on September 18, 2013


Oral?
posted by bongo_x at 2:01 PM on September 18, 2013


No, thanks.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:11 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


After all the commotion, spacing turns out to be a stylistic choice?? Bummer. I'd really like something concrete to show my advisor every time she adds between one and three spaces after every period in my papers. We just go back and forth adding and deleting spaces, hoping the other won't notice.
posted by stripesandplaid at 2:40 PM on September 19, 2013


Elementary Penguin: Ug, no. From what I can tell, the best choice is to turn and run at any LaTeX option that involves the word french. (Frenchspacing, Frenchlinks in Hypertex, whatever that one that screws up punctuation with thin spaces is....)
posted by Canageek at 12:00 AM on September 20, 2013


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