|Re: Somewhere in the PPC Journal...Richard Nelson said...|
Message #4 Posted by Garth Wilson on 17 Apr 2010, 7:11 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by Gene Wright
I'll bite. I do not agree at all. The original monospaced typewriters made it easier to see the end of a sentence because the periods were so big. I sometimes have to re-read things now because they didn't make sense, and it turns out that I ran things together because the second space was missing. There were typewriters that did do proportional spacing long before we had computers-- they were just more expensive. My mom used one when she was a secretary in the early 1970's. A lower-case "i" took two units of space as I recall, whereas a capital "M" took five units. If you backspaced to type over something with the white-out tape, you had to know how many units to go back. Still, two spaces between sentences was correct. I think what has happened now is that we have people writing software who are too young to have taken the standard two years of typing in high school.
"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."
Another one I've been seeing recently is only half a blank line between paragraphs in block style, intead of a whole blank line. Someone probably thought that typewriters had to do either single or double spacing, which is not true. We could go one and a half, but it makes it confusing to look at, especially if one paragraph ends near the right margin. Use an entire blank line.
I will also put in a pitch for a comma before the "and" in a sequence. For example, "we went out to eat with the Smiths, Mark and Kathy" has a different meaning from "We went out to eat with the Smiths, Mark, and Kathy." The first one incorrectly implies that the Smiths' names are Mark and Kathy, whereas the second one says we went out with Bob and Ann Smith, and also with Mark and Kathy whose last names were different and they were engaged to be married. The lack of the comma changes the meaning and makes the statement incorrecct.
There also needs to be a second period after an abreviation at the end of a sentence, so you have one for the abreviation and one to end the sentence. A single period is extra bad if there's only one space after the sentence and the next sentence starts with an acronym or with a proper noun (like someone's name) which would be capitalized regardless and you lose the separation between sentences.
Edited: 17 Apr 2010, 7:14 p.m.