On 11/30/05, Jeffrey Schwab <jeff / schwabcenter.com> wrote:> Austin Ziegler wrote:>> Then, quite honestly, you were taught wrong. I was taught to use>> double spaces with a typewriter or when using fixed-pitch fonts>> (although that was later, since most computers and printers didn't>> have reliable kerning routines until I was out of university).>> Ultimately, the use of double spaces after a period is wrong *even>> with fixed-pitch fonts*, but it was done to be clearer since the>> width of the em-space and an en-space on a typewriter with a>> Courier-like font is exactly the same. The two spaces *simulates* an>> em-space in a typeset piece of work. (And that is *fact*, not>> opinion.)
Before we go much further, I have not used either MLA or APA guidelinessince I left university about ten years ago. However, I used both inUniversity and have since learned a lot more about typesetting andlayout and all that (and with PDF::Writer, have learned even more). Mydegree was in English, not in Computer Science.
> The Bedford Handbook, which has been my bible for writing conventions> through the past ten years, lists two sets of guidelines:  Those> recommended by the Modern Language Association (MLA), and those> recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA).  It says> that the MLA style is typically taught in English classes, but that> the APA style is common in the social sciences.  Here is the> explanation of the MLA guidelines, from page 633 of the Bedford> Handbook for Writers, (c) 1994:
Okay, but something like the Bedford Handbook tells you *what* somethingis, not *why* something is. A lot of teachers and reference guides dothat; it's good because it saves space. It's bad because practices thatdo not or should not apply are continued for reasons that no one quiteunderstands and are applied in circumstances outside of where thepractice was intended to apply.
> MLA Guidelines [for essays]:>	In typing the text of the essay, leave one space after words,>	commas, colons, and semicolons and between the dots in ellipsis>	marks.  Leave two spaces after periods, question marks, and>	exclamation points. To form a dash, type two hyphens with no space>	between them.  Do not put a space on either side of a dash.
> The Handbook goes on to say (p. 635):>	  Although the APA guidelines call for one space after all>	punctuation, most college professors prefer two spaces at the end of>	a sentence.  Use one space after all other punctuation.>>     Although two spaces are used after a period that ends a sentence,>   use only one space after a period that follows a person's initial>   (B.F. Skinner). To form a dash, type two hyphens with no space>   between them.  Do not put a space on either side of a dash.
Yes. Note that this primarily focuses on *academic* writing. The rulesfor academic writing are very interesting because you are being taughtthe rules that most journals require for publication--which has nothingto do with readability outside of that environment.
Note, however, that there is an important clue to the *reason* behindthe rule in the part that you quoted, and that the APA *specifically*indicates "one space after all punctuation" and the Bedford overridesthat for professors. The clue, by the way, is that *both* guidelinesindicate that a dash (or &#8212; or &mdash;) should be formed with twohyphens. This is again because the typical hyphen is approximately thesame size as an en-dash in a proportional font (and the en-dash may beused for hyphens, although it is also used for dashes indicating ranges,e.g., "1-5") and two en-dashes are about the size of an em-dash--thelong dash you see from the HTML entities I pointed out above. Sentenceending spaces are em-spaces--but there's *still* only one of them.
> The Handbook itself uses only single spaces at the ends of sentences.> Still, I hardly think there is one conclusively "right" or "wrong"> convention.
It depends on the purpose. In *general* writing, it is conclusively*wrong* to use two spaces because it will mess up justified text and itwill sometimes generate more space than you want even if you aren'tjustifying your text. (In justified text, space is added to sentenceendings before it is added between words.) In writing for a publication,it is conclusively *wrong* to do anything other than what the styleguide for the publication says.
It's less problematic in email, where it is sometimes considered easierto read if the correspondents are using non-HTML and/or fixed-pitchfonts. It is definitely wrong to use two spaces after a sentence in Wordor OpenOffice, unless you are (as I noted) writing to a specific styleguide mandated by the person for whom you are writing.
-austin--Austin Ziegler * halostatue / gmail.com               * Alternate: austin / halostatue.ca