Thursday, October 10, 2013

Two-spacers of the world unite!

Why two spaces after a period isn’t wrong (or, the lies typographers tell about history)

But perhaps the worst offender in the promulgation of such nonsense is a particularly self-righteous piece in Slate from earlier this year. We are told, “Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren’t for a quirk of history,” i.e., the typewriter. And we are told that the one-space rule derives from the expert experiences of publishers developed over many years: “We adopted these standards because practitioners of publishing—writers, editors, typographers, and others—settled on them after decades of experience. Among their rules was that we should use one space after a period instead of two—so that’s how we should do it.” As to why they believe this to be so, it’s because double spaces are “ugly”: “A page of text with two spaces between every sentence looks riddled with holes; a page of text with an ordinary space looks just as it should.”

The author, Farhad Manjoo, is astounded to find so many educated and ignorant people who apparently believe that two spaces are okay. He even polls people over Thanksgiving dinner, just so he can tell them how wrong they are! The author subsequently decides to go on a mission to show them why they are wrong, resulting in the linked article.

Unfortunately, this whole story is a fairy tale, made up by typographers to make themselves feel like they are correct in some absolute way. The account is riddled with historical fabrication
HT: Text Patterns

The Slate article could serve as a case study of the MSM pathology dissected by Ace in this post. Farhad Manjoo marries arrogant certainty with colossal ignorance. And then his editors decide to publish it to enlighten those idiots they call readers.

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