jaraco jaraco jason

Niner since 2004


  • Bill Hill - There is only one space after a period

    bill hill wrote:
    For proportionally-spaced fonts (that's what we call non-fixed-space) two spaces is ugly, and slows the flow.

    Could you explain how proportionally-spaced fonts has any bearing on the number of spaces to follow a sentence?  On the surface, the spacing of fonts seems as if it could affect the spacing after a sentence, but I don't see anywhere that it does.

    So far, there have been several arguments for the legitimacy of double-spacing.

    The arguments against have been shallow and subjective, without any concrete evidence.  You claim that two spaces slows the flow.  I argue the contrary.  It provides a visual cue to allow the reader to more easily differentiate the end of the sentence, allowing the non-symantic portion of the brain to process structural information in parallel with the symantic information.

    Some have claimed that "reading" that extra space takes extra time, but that can only be the case for someone who reads character by character, and I'll guarantee that 99% of the population does not read that way.  The fastest readers don't even parse the text word by word, but rather in grammatical and structural chunks.

    I'd like to hear an argument for single spacing more than "it's old and we don't have to do it anymore" or "I don't like it".
  • Bill Hill - There is only one space after a period

    I don't quite catch your argument, Bill, that the 2 space issue is different in a digital typesetting environment versus typewriters and classical typesetting.

    I agree with the underlining aspect.  I can see how with typewriters and typesetters, it was easier to underline than to emphasize in other ways.

    But as far as the one versus two space theory, the difference is the same with digital typesetting as with classical.  Two spaces gives a clearer delineation between sentences in the same way as two carriage returns gives a clearer delineation between two paragraphs.

    Some have said that modern technology (a good font designer, proportional fonts, etc) provides the same value as two spaces.  This is not the case.  I type a document in MS Word, and regargless of font, the difference between one and two spaces after a period is clear.  That HTML automatically compresses two (or more) spaces into one is not the technical equivalent to having two spaces after a period on a typewriter.  It's the simple compression of two (or more) into one.

    I'm not arguing that two spaces is better than one.  I'm just arguing that two spaces in classical typesetting is the same as two spaces in modern text.

    I pose two questions, then.

    1) Am I wrong that the two are equivalent?  No examples have been shown to the contrary, IMHO.

    2)  Is two spaces no longer the preferred format?  I was taught otherwise, and always include two spaces.  What's the advantage of a single space?  I see a clear advantage in two spaces, particularly after question marks, to provide a gross visual cue to the end of the thought without the need to recognize the delineating character.  Additionally, two spaces provides the same differentiating effect with respect to the comma, which is a very visually similar punctuation.