Blog Master G

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Space Space

Friday, April 23rd, 2004 · 2 Comments

Listen up, people: If you type with a computer — and something tells me you do if you are reading this — then stop with the space-space habit! It’s not correct and it’s annoying. It has been a long-time pet peeve of mine when reading and editing others’ text.

As I learned from career journalist and publisher Nana many years ago, the habit that most people have of separating sentences with two spaces is left over from the days when everyone used typewriters. The extra space was a visual helper to separate sentences (written in fixed-width fonts like Courier).

Computers are smarter than typewriters and the extra space should never be used. Computers know how to adjust the text accordingly to make your text visually correct. The extra space is distracting. So please, please, stop with the space-spacing.

In HTML and blogs, this is not an issue since HTML is fortunately smart enough to ignore non-specified extra spaces (&nbsp;), line breaks (<br>), and paragraph breaks (<p>).

Here is an example to prove my point.  See how annoying that extra space is?

More on this topic: Report.

Tags: rants

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jordan // Apr 24, 2004 at 2:19 pm

    (Throwing off the gloves here)

    This little topic is actually still open for much debate. The MLA published a proposed addendum making the recommendation of two spaces following terminal punctuation is fixed width fonts and one space following terminal punctuation in variable width fonts. They received a huge amount of flack from editors about this.

    Here’s the problem. The author shouldn’t have to care. For example, I am currently entering this in a text box that is fixed width font (courier) on your website. Yet, you are going to display this to users in a variable width font. So, should I be putting one or two spaces after my terminal punctuation?

    When I write e-Mail, if the user is set as “plain text” user, it will most like get displayed on their side in courier. If it is sent as an HTML message, it will be something variable. I have no clue which it will be when I write the e-mail. This is why MLA has not made this an official standard yet.

    In fact, in a more recent publication they stated they are leaning towards the idea that writers should continue to put the double space after terminal punctuation, and it should be up to the font people (hello Adobe!) to properly kern spaces in variable width font after terminal punctuation.
    Wired’s documentation says that you should keep with two actual spaces (none of the stupid nbsp entities though), and HTML renders will strip the extra white space (normally) unless someone chooses to display within pre tags or something else with a fixed width font where the spaces can be reintroduced.

    As a finisher, here is a frightening phrase told to me be an Adobe employee when I interviewed there: “You’ll find amazing font engineers here. When you’re really passionate about fonts, there’s no where else you’d want to work.”

    And one more annoyance as I preview, it appears that MT is kind enough to interpret my carriage returns as break tags instead of paragraph tags. Meaning if I want to “properly” space things I must put in two break tags. Of course, being nitpicky, two breaks is only the equivalent of a new paragraph is you are using double space.

  • 2 glenn // Apr 27, 2004 at 6:42 pm

    damn– now I am — constantly — freaked out when I do this dash — dash thang.