Debate grammar in this thread

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Solomoriah
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Debate grammar in this thread

Post Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:45 pm

Edit by chiisu81: these posts spun off from the Style Guide Workshop thread. Please use this thread for non-styleguide feedback.

Don't bother proofing my work then.
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SmootRK
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Re: Style guide

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:33 am

Two spaces after period is a hard habit to break. For me it goes back to learning to type on manual typewriters, and it was specifically the correct action. Of course I understand that it is unnecessary nowadays because computers/fonts handle spaces differently, but it occurs literally without thought most of the time.
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Re: Style guide

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:20 am

We're told that typewriters were where the two space rule was created, but that's not true; it was a standard typesetting rule to use an em-space after final punctuation throughout most of the 19th Century. I did read an old style guide somewhere, but can't find it now, that called for two en-spaces after final punctuation. Wikipedia has a good rundown of the situation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... ce_spacing

I'm firmly in the camp of De Vinne and Knuth (the latter of whom is almost a god in my career field). I don't write works for designers to pooh-pooh over, I write works for old codgers like me to read and to use when playing games.
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Re: Style guide

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:43 am

I believe it, but it was the way they taught back in the day. Got counted as mistakes (reduced typing speed) when two spaces got omitted. I had the kind of teacher that went around with ruler smacking hands that were doing things wrong :evil: :twisted:
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Re: Style guide

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:08 pm

Haha, it is true. The double spacing between sentences is something that started around the 19th century. And despite my categorical objection to it, it doesn't bother me that much. I'm OK if people want use it :lol: . Nevertheless, just because something was once common practice, it doesn't mean it's good; and it certainly doesn't mean it makes the text more legible.

To quote Bringhurst (from The Elements of Typographic Style):
In the nineteenth century, which was a dark and inflationary age in typography and type design, many compositors were encouraged to stuff extra space between sentences. Generations of twentieth-century typists were then taught to do the same, by hitting the spacebar twice after every period. Your typing as well as your typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint Victorian habit. As a general rule, no more than a single space is required after a period, a colon or any other mark of punctuation. Larger spaces (e.g., en spaces) are themselves punctuation.
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Re: Argue grammar in this thread

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:06 pm

SmootRK wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:43 am
I believe it, but it was the way they taught back in the day. Got counted as mistakes (reduced typing speed) when two spaces got omitted. I had the kind of teacher that went around with ruler smacking hands that were doing things wrong :evil: :twisted:
Sounds like I had your teacher also when I took typing class, back in 82.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Argue grammar in this thread

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:58 pm

As I said, I'm in the camp of De Vinne and Knuth. As De Vinne wrote in his book The Practice of Typography:
Printed words need the relief of a surrounding blank as much as figures in a landscape need background or contrast, perspective or atmosphere. (p. 182)

White space is needed to make printing comprehensible. (page 183)
But he said it better in Modern Book Composition:
Unleaded and thin-spaced composition is preferred by the disciples of William Morris, but it is not liked by the average reader, who does need a perceptible white blank between words or lines of print. During the fifteenth century, when thin leads and graduated spaces were almost unknown and but little used, the reading world had its surfeit of close-spaced and solid typesetting. (p. 105)
The fact of the matter is, the hordes of typography experts who are telling us that two spaces after final punctuation is bad and should not be used have no purely factual nor logical reason for this. It's entirely a matter of "looking good," and of course that will always come down to taste. But I am one of those readers De Vinne is talking about; I'm far more comfortable reading text with adequate white space, and extra space after final punctuation is, to me, part of that punctuation, and thus belongs there. Further, Donald Knuth actually created a phototypesetting system because he hated what professional designers did to his book The Art of Computer Programming, packing the words and sentences too close; he wanted to be able to provide a fully typeset book to the publisher so they wouldn't screw it up. I couldn't agree more... the Basic Fantasy books look the way they do because that's how I want them to look. (Amazingly, I can't remember every word, and often have to consult my own book...)
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Re: Argue grammar in this thread

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:00 pm

I used 2 spaces for the longest time, and then I switched to a single space. I honestly can't remember what caused me to change. Solo got me to come back to the Oxford comma, but coming back to 2 spaces will take a bit longer. :D But, as I've written and edited for multiple RPG and non-RPG items over the years, each editor/manager each has their own preferences, style guide, etc. and I've had to learn to adapt to each of them.
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Re: Debate grammar in this thread

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:53 pm

A few fair points, but ultimately I have to disagree.

Yes, it is a matter of habit and comfort... if you're used to double spaced sentences, you're going to prefer them. But that does not dictate on whether it is better or worse. After all, it's only in the 19th century that that was a practice -- readers before and after were fine with single spaced sentences. Similarly, because of practices in academia, many people are more comfortable reading double spaced lines of text, but surely that does not make for better typography.
As I said, I'm in the camp of De Vinne and Knuth.
Of course, De Vinne was part of the generation that introduced the doubled spaced sentence, so I don't think it's a very strong argument to bring him up. Most modern typographers don't support that view. And to be fair, we're only talking about the space between sentences here, not the use of blank space in general. That's a whole art form in itself. Still, excess is its own counterargument; to need blank spaces is one thing, but how much is an entirely different argument. Excess of blank space stands out, and may distract the reader from the text (the important part)

As for Knuth, what he did was a godsend for digital typesetting, but it's important to remember he was NOT a typographer. He was a product of early 20th century education. Plus, I don't think LaTeX defaults to a double space (though I'm not 100% sure).
the hordes of typography experts who are telling us that two spaces after final punctuation is bad and should not be used have no purely factual nor logical reason for this.
Not true. The reason is entirely logical. So logical that it devolves to minimalism: do what you must but avoid excesses. The one space and the capital letter that follows it is enough of a visual queue to denote the separation of the two sentences. The extra white spaces would be superfluous.
It's entirely a matter of "looking good," and of course that will always come down to taste.
Again, not a fair point since most typographers and typesetters are paid to make texts legible, not make them pretty. For any typographer that's worth their pay, legibility is their first priority.

In the end, however, it's really not a make-or-break issue. It's one of the finer points (still, very fun to argue about it :D ). I'm very much in favor of the single space, but no text has every bothered me for having two spaces after punctuation.

I'm curious though: given your admiration of Knuth, why didn't you use something like LaTeX to typeset BFRPG? It is free and open source, just like LibreOffice.
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Re: Debate grammar in this thread

Post Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:10 pm

Let me engage in a little reductivism here:
jmhimara wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:53 pm
Not true. The reason is entirely logical. So logical that it devolves to minimalism: do what you must but avoid excesses. The one space and the capital letter that follows it is enough of a visual queue to denote the separation of the two sentences. The extra white spaces would be superfluous.
You state that "habit and comfort" do not "dictate on whether it is better or worse." I agree with respect to "habit" but disagree on "comfort." Like Knuth, and for that matter practically all the "great minds" of typography in the 19th century, I find it more comfortable to read a work with a wider space after a period. If it were easy to type em-spaces, I'd probably do that; it's not, though, so I make do with two en-spaces (i.e. the normal space as given in whatever font I'm using).

In other words, I disagree that the extra space is an "excess" in texts I'm reading. Yeah, I've gotten accustomed to reading single-space-after-final-punctuation text on the 'net, but that doesn't mean I prefer it, or ever will.
jmhimara wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:53 pm
I'm curious though: given your admiration of Knuth, why didn't you use something like LaTeX to typeset BFRPG? It is free and open source, just like LibreOffice.
Accessibility. I didn't write Basic Fantasy RPG, at least, not alone; the project is and always has been about the community. Using TeX would make it hard for others to contribute, OR would result in myself and my team having to translate formats (a laborious process, to be sure). LibreOffice is within the technical capacity of basically anyone who is going to contribute meaningfully to the project, and is free, so it was the obvious choice.
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