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Friday, May 08, 2009

Typography

A great web site for typographical tips. A couple of important items I still see violated frequently:

"You must always put exactly one space between sentences" -- putting two spaces after a period is a relic of the typewriter age.

"It would be awkward if the introductory heading ARGUMENT appeared on the last line of a page, and the actual argument started at the top of the following page."

We get papers at NYU with the second problem all the time -- the last thing on the page is the heading for what's on the next page.

15 comments:

  1. Sidney7:46 PM

    "We get papers at NYU.."

    Since when do you have anyting to do with NYU? Aren't you in London or was your colloquium speech that big a hit?

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  2. Explain to me again why the two spaces is obsolete? Do my eyes work better, now that computers have been invented?

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  3. Bob, it's because computers offer us proportionally spaced fonts, and the two-space convention was developed for the mono-spaced fonts of typewriters.

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  4. Sidney, I've had "something to do" with NYU since about 2000.

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  5. Sidney1:15 PM

    I suspected it wasn't the colloquium speech :)

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  6. I always use two-spaces. This is something of a revelation to me that this need not be done.

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  7. John, it's not merely that it need not be done -- typing two spaces is a typographical error, in that whoever is going to typeset you document for printing is going to have to remove all of those extraneous spaces.

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  8. 'We get papers at NYU with the second problem all the time -- the last thing on the page is the heading for what's on the next page.'

    I assume over the pond is just like over here then - no one is ever taught how to use word processing programs properly. At least, MS Word has included a 'keep with next' paragraph setting for, well, since WinWord 2 in 1991 at least (I assume similar applications have this feature). That said, no doubt other people might think - 'what, you use a wysiwyg word processor? Haven't you been taught to use LaTeX..?'

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  9. I can understand that two spaces between sentences are no longer needed, but that doesn`t mean they are not desirable or acceptable.

    The fact that tbe person declaring the rule here refers to using two spaces as "double-spacing" makes me even less like to accept the assertion of authority.

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  10. "I can understand that two spaces between sentences are no longer needed, but that doesn`t mean they are not desirable or acceptable."

    No, of course it doesn't mean that, but in this case, the writer gave arguments for just why they aren't desirable or acceptable, namely, they screw up the typesetting of the document. An editor will have to go through and remove all of your double spacing before publication.

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  11. 'An editor will have to go through and remove all of your double spacing before publication.'

    Hardly a clinching argument though - it only takes a simple find/replace to do the deed, less if you wrap it up in a macro. Why destroy a century of tradition just to avoid doing that - are you a rationalist or something? ;-)

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  12. Gene, I can understand that there may be a point for changing to a single spacing after periods when a document is actually going to be physically printed, but that`s hardly a justification for extending it as a rule to electronic communications (particularly informal/unofficial ones), for which it should be simply a matter of preference.

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  13. Yes, Tom, of course, this is all meant for documents that will be typeset.

    In personal e-mail, I don't care if someone puts 15 spaces after each sentence. And on the web, HTML ignores extra spaces!

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  14. Two days (or so) after this post, I just tried it. I began taking out the double spaces. I have never felt freer.

    (I am not being sarcastic.)

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  15. Gene, the author is clearly trying to direct his rules towards informal electronic communication as well as what`s typeset, as I saw the first time I followed your link:

    "Every written word implicates typography—whether it’s displayed on paper, on a computer screen, or on a billboard."

    http://www.typographyforlawyers.com/?p=23

    Thanks for posting this anyway; while I now understand both why there was a two-space rule and why there has been a movement away from it, my instinct against relativism makes me rebell against such easy abandonment of tradition in favor of the latest fashion in presentation.

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