Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A Call To Arms

Finally, someone gets it!  I am sickened and appalled by the systematic elimination of the double space from computer text.  Sentences need to be whole structures; they break writing down in the same way individual panels break down a comic, and that means the double space in text is just as important as the gutter is in a graphic novel.


Gooder said...

A single space doesn't stop a sentence being a sentence though, so I can't see the point of putting in two spaces at the end of a sentence to be honest. The full stop is kind of what tells me where the sentence ends after all.

Gooder said...

I've now said sentence so much it sounds funny in my head. Sentence, sentence, sentence. Sentence.

SpaceSquid said...

It's not a question of knowing where the sentence ends; it's a question of making sure the separations between sentences is a different beast to the separations within them.

To return to the comic example, you can still tell where one picture ends and another begins by simply placing them right next to each other and separating them by a line. But by doing so the subconcious mind has no opportunity to work as it passes from one to the other.

Basically, it's an extension of the theory that says a sentence should be different to a paragraph, and to a page break. It should also be different to the spaces between words; and we should have some way of demonstrating that placing a full stop, question mark or exlaimation mark after a word is qualitatively different to putting a comma or semi-colon after it.

Jamie said...

I didn't realise you felt so strongly about this! For what it's worth, I agree, and always use two spaces following a full stop (whereas one space following a colon or semi-colon suffices).

However, it does seem to be the case that, publishing-wise, the single space is preferred; and I suppose I can understand that from a space-saving point of view.

SpaceSquid said...

It would be interesting to see how much space is saved by it per page, per book, and per print run. I will admit that if significant paper savings can be made this way, it's probably worth doing.

Of course, that doesn't make it right, any more than a desire to save on pencils means that people really do have four digits on each hand.

(Also, I can't believe I misspelled "exclamation".)

Gooder said...

Nope, not convinced. Full stops do the job for me (as the other forms of punctuation you mention do theirs), my response would just pay a bit more attention to what you're reading if you need to.

I can quite happily skim read pages of academic writing without needing swaths of extra spacing all over the place.

Sorry, but I just don't see the point.

Tomsk said...

What do you mean by "computer text"?

The original polemicist is certainly right that anyone who uses two spaces with a modern word processor should be bludgeoned to death with a box of metal type. Proportional fonts are optimised for a single space after sentences, end of story.

With fixed-width fonts there are no such rules so it's more a matter of taste. Personally I think a single space looks better but I can see the appeal of being able to split sentences on double spaces if you're coding. Not very reliable though: if you let a single space slip in it won't work, so it would be safer to split on sentence punctuation anyway.

All this reminds me that I really ought to get on and write a review of Just My Type...

SpaceSquid said...

"[M]y response would just pay a bit more attention to what you're reading if you need to."


As regards Tomsk's point, I agree I was too vague. I was referring to the various word processor packages (along with those that prepare text for html, like this one).

Gooder said...

So you're telling me a fullstop followed by a space and then a capital letter isn't enough to indicate a new sentence in your view?

Fair enough, but for me three indicators does the job. The space within a sentence is differect to the space within a sentence due to these three things, so I don't see why you need another space. (And since your brains reads by recognising the shapes of the writing it will pick up on the capital letter if not the full stop)

Sorry, not convinced.

SpaceSquid said...

"So you're telling me a fullstop followed by a space and then a capital letter isn't enough to indicate a new sentence in your view?"

No; I'm saying conscious indication and subconscious absorption work differently. It's not about recognition, it's about compartmentalisation.

SpaceSquid said...

Sorry; that should have been "conscious identification". And I recognise that compartmentalisation requires identification, obviously; but there is more to it than that, including (even very brief) pauses, which is what I'm talking about.

Tomsk said...

I agree 100% with Gooder but it's interesting that historically most typesetters used a longer 'em' space after sentences right up until the start of the 20th century (when presumably they realised how hideously ugly it was). 'Two space' sentence spacing came about as a way to emulate this traditional look on a typewriter. Thankfully the practice is dying out with the typewriter too.