Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Writing conventions

Around my office, there's been a sudden discussion of writing style. In particular, whether to put one or two spaces between sentences. The old style manual used to say two, but apparently the current writing "fashion" dictates one, even to the point that those who use two may be looked down upon as backward or anachronistic or just plain uncool in writing circles.

An excerpt from Ten Common Mistakes in the Typesetting of Technical Documents by Charles Poynton:

4. Mistaken application of typewriter conventions
Follow the period at the end of a sentence by a single space, not two. Use a single paragraph mark to terminate a paragraph, not two. To achieve spacing, or to force a paragraph to the top of a page, use your word processor's spacing and positioning controls instead of blank lines. It is wrong to set two hyphens in place of a dash: Use an en dash surrounded by normal (word) spaces. Modern word processors and page layout programs allow you to use typographic characters. Use the straight single and double quotes ' and " only to denote minutes, seconds, feet, and inches; and then only if there is
insufficient space to spell out the unit. For all other purposes, use typographer's ("curly") quotes.

Here are some other interesting quotes:

"The only reason that two spaces were used after a period during the 'typewriter' age was because original typewriters had monospaced fonts -- the extra space was needed for the eye to pick up on the beginning of a new sentence. That need is negated w/proportional space type, hence [it is] the typographic standard."

Here's what one of the folks at The Design & Publishing Center had to say about the history of typographic spacing:

"In the days of typewriter manuscripts the extra space was necessary to separate the ends and beginnings of sentences. The space character never changed. With the advent of electronic typesetting, the software attempts to 'fit' the type to specific line lengths, it both expands or contracts the available space to make the type fit. Word spacing is where most of this space 'play' takes place."

And one more opinion piece can be found here.

Wow. Needless to say, someone asked the question and half the communication department started writing responses. Kind of amusing, but I guess it might be a "hot button" topic within their area of expertise. I didn't even know it had been discussed as an issue before that.

- Pookah


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2002 06:32 am (UTC)
I'm still a two-space man, having grown up in the analog typewriter age. Whatever that dude is talking about, with proportional fonts, isn't necessarily true, and it's still easier for me to see sentence breaks when two spaces are used than with one.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

January 2011
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow