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On 08/19/2013 11:05 PM, Ken Springer wrote:

Hi, Vigil,

So, if I read your message correctly, there is no official "body" that sets typographic standards, only general conventions used by most, but may not be the best for end user/reader. Would that be correct?

Not quite.

I agree there is no official body that sets typographic standards, at least none of which I am aware. I also agree that there are general conventions that are used by most professional typographers. I do *not* agree that these conventions "may not be best for the end user/reader."

I honestly believe that one word space between sentences is best for the reader. I honestly believe it facilitates the smooth flow of reading.

It might surprise you, but I was a slow convert to the "one space between sentences" convention. Like many here, I learned to type on an Underwood, with all the conventions that grew up with the typewriter. I learned to use 12-point Pica type, set one-inch page margins, indent paragraphs one half inch, double space my text, and put two spaces between sentences.

When I graduated to a Windows word processor with proportionally spaced type, I kept using all of these conventions. After all, after 25 years of typing everything the same way, it "looked" right. I then came across a series of typography articles that stated that these typing conventions were actually deviations from typographic standards. They grew as concessions to the fixed-width type of the typewriter and letter-sized paper. But, professional typesetters using proportionally spaced type typically didn't use the same conventions. When was the last time you saw a book set in 12 point type, double spaced lines with one-half inch indents?

I started examining the books I read with great reading comfort. *All* of them had type smaller than 12 points. *None* of them had double spaced lines or half-inch indents. They were *all* single spaced with paragraph indents of less than one half inch. And most of them, especially those printed after I was born, had only one word space after sentence ending punctuation.

So, if everything I learned in typing class was "right," how was it that all of these professionally published books got it wrong? More importantly, how was it that I was able to read all these books without stumbling over the words? They all looked just as "right" as my own papers that had been typed using typewriter conventions.

I learned that the typewriter standards were based on the fact that we were using letter-sized paper and fixed-width type. You'll notice books tend to have much smaller pages. Larger paper means longer text lines, which means larger type, and wider line spacing. Fixed-width type also requires more definition between paragraphs and sentences, hence half-inch indents and two spaces between sentences.

But, now we're beyond the Underwood technology. We're now using technology that mimics that of Gutenberg. It's time we left behind the shackles of the typewriter and embraced the better technology we can obtain.

For my work, I now use 11-point type, single space my text and use paragraph indents of no more than 1/3 inch (2 picas). I set my left and right margins at about 1.75 inches (9.5 to 10.5 picas), specifically to increase white space in the margins and shorten the length of my lines. And, following the example of decades and decades of professionally printed books, I put only one word space between sentences.

At first, my new practice looked weird. But, I found that my work now resembled that found in a book, instead of that typed on the typewriter. Once I began using typesetting standards instead of typewriter standards, my eyes grew accustomed to reading text that was properly set, with only one space between paragraphs. My eyes adjusted to a reading flow that was not interrupted by too much white space after a period.

So, while I can appreciate that those accustomed to reading text with two sentence ending spaces might resist change, I cannot agree that their habits are actually "best" for the reader.

To quote a very old Alka Seltzer commercial, "Try it, you'll like it!"


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