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I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

One off

Just an FYI, for all you people who delight in telling me when I'm wrong about something. You've been missing a big one for the entire life of this blog. Apparently, I've been doing something wrong for ten years and literally nobody has told me about it until this morning.

I learned how to type in the 80s on typewriters, which means that I would double-space after every sentence. But thanks to modern typography and the overall death of proportional fonts in text (including this blog), apparently all the key style guides were changed around 2003 to indicate that one space after a period is now correct. People who are into typography assure the rest of us that two spaces induces an unnecessary pause in the reader's mind while reading, a single space therefore eliminates these pauses and increases flow. Not only did I completely miss the change, but I've been continuing to double-space for ten years now in all of my writing and nobody's said a single word to me about it...

...until this morning, when CCP Dolan mentioned it to me in the most off-hand way possible.

I suppose I could say that I'm old school. But if the style sheets change, I'm willing to change with them. That's what style sheets are for. So, I'm surprised I haven't heard about this change until now, but henceforth this blog will be following the style sheets.


But there's an amusing counter-argument if you want to read it.

24 comments:

  1. Ifyourpurposeistodecreasepausesandincreaseflowletsgetridofspacingaltogetherandliveinaworldwhereeveryideagetsexactlytheamountoftimeinvestedinunderstandingitthatittakestoreadit.

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    1. All those vowels are slowing me down. Axe those as well.

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  2. Man, those four spaces in your post, it took me forever to read the entire thing

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  3. Nice one Jester, although you could have covertly made the change, observed how long it took until anyone noticed it and then blogged about it.

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  4. I didn't recognize it until you mentioned it...
    Maybe because I am used to read a lot of "block" formated text which makes couples of space between words in general.
    Btw, I learned typewriting in the early 80s, too. Can't remember we were asked to do a double-space after a sentence... then again: those where the early 80s... can't remember a lot of things ^^

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  5. http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/third_way.png

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    1. I suppose fourth way would be to have page break after every sentence.

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  6. I like that counter argument. It is amusing mostly in its thoroughly smug level of being correct.

    I learned to type in the 70s on a manual typewriter and two spaces after a period... like pounding on the keys with enough force to break a cheap keyboard... is so ingrained in my typing that the effort necessary to retrain myself would be all out of proportion to the alleged benefit. People who are fussy about it remind of an XKCD comic from a while back:

    http://xkcd.com/915/

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  7. I summarize it this way: WHO THE F**K CARES? And yes, I'm a double-spacing relic, too, because that is how my typing teacher in high school taught it.

    2SPACE4LYF, yo!

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  8. aaaand I would never have noticed it except you pointed it out. Talk about "straining at gnats". Heck, you're actually USING punctuation, a novelty these days to be sure.

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  9. Not sure if the blog site has been autocorrecting it or if it's my browser, but I've only ever seen double spaces between words here, not after a full stop.

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    1. Because of the way the HTML standard is written, nobody would have noticed on your blog unless you were doing something particularly special: all whitespace (space, tab, newline) in HTML is treated as a single space, with the exception of double newlines (which are treated as a single break).

      So, none of us here would have noticed, because HTML follows the relatively modern auto-linebreak algorithm described in the article linked at the end of the blog post.

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    2. The editor in blogspot retains the double-space, in the HTML it comes out as a non-breaking-space then a normal space.

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  10. Let me be the first to say I missed it too.
    Then again, I wasn't looking for it, nor would I have known to look for it.
    But, I, for one, am immensely relieved that this particular situation has been resolved.

    Praise CCP Dolan for his diligence. If he'd had a girlfriend, or perhaps less time on his hands, this could have gone on indefinitely!

    Said in jest, of course :-)

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  11. Same here, I just learned about that change over the summer. Now I may be wrong, but I believe most web browsers will condense white space when displaying text. So regardless of how many spaces you use on a page of HTML text, the visual appearance stays the same. Whether you use 1, 2 or 20 spaces after a period and before the next sentence doesn't really matter on a web page.

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  12. All you Grammar Nazis out there - read this man's blog: http://writebadlywell.blogspot.com/2010/03/never-let-good-sentence-end.html

    (and thanks to pjharvey to introduce me to it)

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  13. I prefer two spaces when writing something formal.

    It's inarguable that the major and accepted writing style-guidelines (MLA, Chicago) advocate single-space, but arbitrary standards are still standards; and I find the point's made by single-space advocates a bit weak.

    First the argument that they create an unnecessary stoppage in the reader's mind. Well, that's rather intended. A period is intended to denote the end of a sentence, which is one thought, and implies a stoppage before you begin the next thought. That an extra space creates an extraneous stoppage, unless merely through it's unusual usage, is a bit hard to believe. In short, unless this is merely opinion attempted to be passed off as fact, citation needed.

    Second the argument that extra spaces are 'un pretty'. This argument is purely the domain of typographers and to which the rest of the population of the planet care not at all. This argument is not only a subjective value judgement, but shares much in common with the fallacious belief that classical Lorem text is in some way 'typographically balanced' so as to provide the perfect randomization of words for laying out text. Sadly, no. Someone long ago liked the passage and it simply became a meme. Similarly, typographers whose domain it is to stare at text all day in a way that no one else ever would, simply don't like it.

    Furthermore, writing standard are not intended to be enforced for normal informal correspondence (such as a personal letter or a blog post), but are guideline for formal writing in the style of journalism and so hardly apply to blogspot.com. Attempting to apply writing standard to all writing would classify them along side dictionaries in an attempt to halt the evolution of language. Personally I find that thought not only futile, but also somewhat morally reprehensible as it is in a sense codifying the beliefs of one small group above all others, present and future.

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  14. You are not a cow. Just look at that middle para in this post. Try to read it. Compare to your previous writing. It is harder to read single-space-separated sentences.

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  15. Damn! read older posts again, noticed double space.

    Strange how for the most part the mind really does not care

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  16. The 'unnecessary pause' in a readers thoughts caused by the double space is actually unimportant compared to the rest of the page layout. The truth is that people rarely read every word in a sentence, let alone analyse the punctuation.

    People will actually read a text two or three times: the first time is a gist reading, followed by reading for details. An optional second step, scanning, is used for high information texts. Your brain then does a magic trick, where you fool yourself into thinking you do all this at the same time.

    This gist/scanning task doesn't really operate at sentence level. Instead It goes over the whole document, paying particular attention to the tops and bottoms of paragraphs (essentially finding out where to start and where to finish).

    So what does this mean? To increase the flow, or speed of someones reading, make your paragraphs shorter, to only about 3/4 lines per paragraph.

    The gist and scanning parts of reading are done a lot faster, meaning that readers get to the detail part quicker. This keeps the reader's inner narration ticking along at a good pace.

    The proof: Take a look at a novel from the 1800s. Les Miserable is a perfect example. See how the paragraphs can sometimes take up a whole page? This is the reason why people struggle to read it. The useless, chapter-length discussions of a nunnery's history don't help either.

    Compare it to a modern novel. Or even better, your blog post! 5 paragraphs, in less than an A5 paper's worth of space. And the last one was just a sentence! Easy to read, and the info dispensed quickly into the mind.

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  17. I disagree with Chicago Manual of Style (et al.) on this point. I am an attorney and often have to use case citations or abbreviations of latin phrases in my writing, both of which frequently involve periods that are not at the end of sentences. The double space serves as a stylistic "hard break" as opposed to the other usage. Even outside of the legal context, I continue to believe it makes things more "readable" and serves to emphasize the end of a thought expressed in writing, which is what a sentence should be.

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  18. Double-space at the end of a sentence remains the standard in many fields. For example, it is still the standard in most legal and business documents. Ultimately, whether you choose to follow the CMA/MLA or some other standard is completely up to you - it's your writing, after all! So if you want to double-space at the end of a sentence, then do so! :)

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  19. I double space. I will continue to double space.
    All the "nay sayers" can go single space themselves. ;)

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  20. I love this level of geek-ness, great topic jester!

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