The complete idiot's guide to typing...

WRONG: The bird is beautiful.  Look at the bird's coloring.  See the bird fly.  The bird flies high in the sky.  Look at the bird's nest.  See the baby birds.  The baby birds want to eat.  See how their mouths are open?  I wish I were a bird so I could fly.  Do you want to fly?

RIGHT: The bird is beautiful. Look at the bird's coloring. See the bird fly. The bird flies high in the sky. Look at the bird's nest. See the baby birds. They want to eat. See how their mouths are open? I wish I were a bird so I could fly. Do you want to fly?

WHY?

(Tim) By now, it's likely there are over 4,000,000 words on Baylyblog and I've written, edited, or read all but a very tiny fraction of them. Edited?

Yes, edited—including our good readers' comments. At times I correct spelling and some of the more obvious typos. Too, I remove spaces.

Why remove spaces? Because many have the habit of treating their computer like a typewriter and it mucks up  readability...

For instance, look at the double hyphens in the paragraph just above. They should be an em dash but I've not yet learned how to trade them in for one here in Typepad. Thus, when I compose a post you get two hyphens where you should get an em dash. Sorry about that—it looks bad, doesn't it?

Speaking of looking bad, it would be a nice Thanksgiving gift to all of us if every last one of you stopped adding two character spaces at the end of sentences, following the terminal punctuation mark. To paraphrase the title of an excellent little book, "your computer is not a typewriter."

Back in the day, typewriters produced the original text and that text was typeset before being read. Then it was proper to do all sorts of things it's no longer proper to do on a computer—which, you'll remember, is not a typewriter. Really, it would be good for everyone to think of their computer as a typeset machine and type accordingly. Which is the entire premise behind Robin Williams little classic (up there near Strunk and White's, The Elements of Style) written back in the late eighties and originally titled, The Mac Is Not a Typewriter. Now Williams has added another version titled for all you Apple phobics, so take your pick.

But do pick one or the other, buy, and read it. It's about as short as The Elements of Style, and every last one of your readers will thank you for the changes in your typing habits it produces—including typing only one space after terminal punctuation marks at the end of sentences.

Another absolute necessity for church offices producing documents to be read by many is the Bible of style question this side of the Atlantic, The Chicago Manual of Style. Again, we have one at our secretary's desk and I have another in my office. Here's what the Chicago Manual says concerning spacing at the end of a sentence:

2.12 Line spacing and word spacing. ...A single character space, not two spaces, should be left after periods at the ends of sentences (both in manuscript and in final, published form) and after colons. ...No extra space should be left after the final punctuation at the end of a paragraph; the hard return should follow the punctuation immediately. (If you cannot remove all such extra spaces, the publisher or typesetter will delete them.)

6.11 Space between sentences. In typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence, whether a period, a colon, a question mark, an exclamation point, or closing quotation marks.

So why do many continue to add two spaces after a mark of punctuation terminating a sentence? Because they haven't learned that their Mac, that their PC is not a typewriter. In the old days, a document didn't go straight from an individual's keyboard to hundreds or thousands of readers. There was always a typesetter in between, replacing two hypens with an em dash and two spaces at the end of a sentence with only one. Now, though, when a man posts or comments on a blog, for instance, it's published immediately. Thus the need for every individual at a keyboard (and often even those thumbing their smartphones) to realize they're not typing on a typewriter, but typesetting, and they should act accordingly.

So again, please do us all the favor of typing only one space following your sentences' terminal punctuation mark. And if you want to know other ways of being kind to your readers whether your text will be read projected on a wall, on a computer screen, or on paper, buy a copy of The Elements of Style ,The Mac Is Not a Typewriter , and The Chicago Manual of Style. And use them.

Comments

Thanks in advance for your patience with this. I remember learning to leave two spaces after the period in grade school and it has become a habit since then. I even do it when I text. Crazy, huh?

Tim,

We feel your pain, but you didn't get to the heart of the matter. The issue of single vs. double spacing has to do with font selection. Single spacing is used with proportional fonts (the stuff of newsprint), whereas double spaces are still appropriate for fixed fonts (e.g., Courier). Double spacing improves readability with fixed fonts. Whether the stuff is displayed on screen or printed hardcopy, the font selected determines the spacing rule.

One additional point: Other than to save a little space on your server, or slightly impove the page loading speed for your blog, why would you go to the trouble of editing user’s posts to remove extra spaces? HTML already does that for you on the display side. In the previous sentence, I placed 10 extra spaces between “spaces?” and “HTML” but they do not get displayed in the user’s browser window. If I want extra spaces, I have to include something like the non-breaking space construct in HTML.

The two space rule is something that still sticks with me from my days as church secretary at CGS. I don't know why, but I was always surprised that a pastor could have so much grammatical and editorial knowledge.The teaching stuck with me, irregardless. :-)

"Too, I remove spaces."

What would The CMS say about the sentence above? YIKES!

Rhetorical questions aside, you two need to ditch TypePad for WordPress, if for no other reason than TypePad does not support em dashes (or en dashes for that matter), as you can see from the double dashes in your post. (This problem is systemic with Six Apart, which is rapidly circling the drain, though not fast enough. When SA finally folds, they will leave countless bloggers without any means to convert their databases apart from paying boatloads of cash to a specialist). This way you'll be able to condemn double-dashes to the seventh circle without littering your post with them!!!

Regarding double spaces after a point (note, it's called a point not a period): This is a late nineteenth-century anomaly that disappeared for the same reason it appeared, namely, no one really knows. Good riddance.

Kudos to you two for insisting on proper style, even though you do so on a platform designed by hacks who never heard of Gutenberg, let alone The CMS.

I note that TypePad did not take my italics tags in the comment above, which, while not a surprise, is one more reason to jump platforms.

This is interesting.

While we're being picky, "irregardless" is nonstandard, Holly.

I don't use double spaces because I don't "know" that a computer is not a typewriter, I do it because I learned to type 25 years ago and that's how my fingers work.

As a matter of courtesy and good practice it's worth trying to break the habit (I'm getting there) but the problem isn't ignorance so much as deeply entrenched habit with most people, or so it seems to me. Reading a book that tells you not to do it is not really getting to the heart of the issue.

A couple of thoughts …

First, my fingers learned to insert two spaces after the non-proportionally spaced font of the typewriters of the early 60s. Like pentamom, that's how my fingers learned to type. If you must deal with it, do so. "To each his own," said the anally-fixated man who kissed the pig.

Second — and here things are going to get interesting when I hit the preview button with my mouse — there ought to be an em dash in the character set used to render this blog. Whether Typeset makes that immediately available to the user (blog poster, blog commenter) is unknown to me. I've never found out how to access such a charactger via the blog interface. But — and here's the test again! — there may be other ways to skin the pig instead of kissing it.

Yes, Wordpress makes an em dash available to the blogowner. I don't think it's available to a commenter via the Wordpress interface he must use, though I'm sure — if he gets away with what I'm trying to get away with here — he can use them as much as he pleases.

Finally, when hitting the "preview" button below the composition field for this comment, I saw that I had successfully incorporate em dashes into the comment. Or — just in case I am the only one who can see them; I testify truthfully, I do not lie! — they are present when I hit the preview button. Next I'll learn if Typepad is going to trick me and turn them into double-hyphens.

Post-finally, there are double-spaces at the end of every sentence in this comment. I am so pleased to learn that some HTML doodad will remove the offending space for me, so I don't have to get all anal about that sort of thing.

And one last thing, which I'll mention in this venue just once — here in this comment and never again. Unless provoked …

If there appear typos, misspellings, and related howlers in my comments, ~some~ of them relate to the fact that I am going blind and that my vision is already sufficiently impaired that I can no longer reliably proofread what I type. I do the best I can and it's not enough. It'll never be enough until I get a new body. And I doubt I'll be posting comments here when that happens.

Also did anyone notice this: " … "

It is NOT three periods. It is a special character in the typeset for this blog. It's called an ellipsis. I use it, not to be anal, but because some blog software decides out of hand that any text that uses three periods is spam and rejects comments containing them. An ellipsis — like this: … — gets past the spam filter.

I incorporate the ellipsis the same way I incorporate the em dash, for any who want to know.

You know, Tim, you could simply have written me privately ;-0 Now I'm off to the bookstore, I simply have to have the book to find out what it has to say about emoticons :-)

My use of irregardless was intentional. I suppose humor doesn't always translate to the written word, even when the cute little smiley face is included.

Tim,

You really have to explain the spaces thing. How are you even seeing them? Obviously, they show up when I "view source" but, as has been mentioned, HTML ignores them.

What gives?

With much love,

PS. I doubled the spaces after periods, of course. It will take a day or two to retrain myself.

Yep. Darned ninth grade typing class.

Em dash = Shift+Option+Hyphen

Standard coding for most word processors. And I even updated your post in rich text to test it.

Tom: I thought about explaining non-proportional and proportional fonts, but didn't do it because almost none of us are publishing in Courier any more. That's the reason CMS doesn't mention it, I'd guess.

You write: "HTML already (removes extra spaces) for you on the display side."

Not one extra space, as the example at the top of the post shows.

Anon.: I hear you and am hoping we'll be moving someday soon. We had to move once before, and it was painful. I'm hoping it won't be as bad this next time. Any suggestions as to which platform would import and serve us best?

Fr. Bill wrote: "he can use them as much as he pleases."

But I think Fr. Bill meant "he can use them as much as they please."

As for why Typepad sometimes does and sometimes does not remove extra spaces, someone please tell me. I'd love to know.

Eric: But you see those extra spaces in the pull quote at the top of the post, don't you? What gives?

Jacob: Thanks, dear brother. I'm hopeful you're ready to do this thousands of times. I love em dashes.

Love to all,

Option? What key is that? I don't have one with that label on my keyboard.

Kamilla:

You're evidently not part of the Illumimaci Cult. The option key is roughly analogous to secret and subtle movements of the fourth finger during a handshake.

@Fr.Bill:

How did you make your em dashes???

I've been doing this for years (mostly on MT, which is a commercial version of TP) and have never got an em dash to appear, regardless of the code.

Please tell!

“Not one extra space, as the example at the top of the post shows.”

I beg to differ. If you look at the HTML source code for your “wrong” example in the OP, you will discover that in order for the “extra” space to print a special character was inserted in the code. Somehow that was artificially forced by whatever HTML or blog editor you were using. I typed this comment using two spaces at the end of every sentence, but only one shows up in the browser display. As you can see HTML removes the extra whitespace.

The first time I read the post, I was looking for textual variants and pronoun changes, because I figured it was about the NIV 2011 (I didn't look closely at the title).

Lo and behold, there is one!(7th sentence)

@Tim:

If the internet is the future, then WordPress is the future of the internet. It is hands down the most advanced interface on the web, and it makes remarkable advances every day. There is nothing that it won’t do (including those vexing em dashes, which should be the least of your worries) and a good technician could give you anything you request, with a cherry on top.

WordPress is the platform of choice for the vast majority of news blogs, from Hot Air to The Blaze to Breitbart’s “Big” sites. People who use Six Apart usually have security concerns, but about 5 months ago WP resolved most of its security issues making Six Apart obsolete.

You should create a test site on wordpress.com to play around in their dashboard. If you do so, you’ll immediately be struck (perhaps even intimidated) by its complexity, though this will subside in less than two hours once you grasp the flow. And when you see the potential, you will verily regret that you waited so long to migrate (note: WP.com is extremely limited in its options when compared to self-hosting a WP site).

Right now you’re stuck on a platform that is owned and operated by a firm that is holding you hostage, though you may not know it. By that I mean Six Apart has specifically designed TP to punish its users if they ever move to another platform. For example, they’ll let you export your database, however they will not give you back-end access to retrieve you images or any other media, which means that if you move, you won’t bring your pics with you. This should tell you exactly what TP thinks of you. Thank you very much, TP.

Recently, however, a clever engineer figured out how to penetrate legally TP’s Berlin Wall to retrieve a user’s pics (which are yours, not TP’s), but depending on how many you have up there, this may be a costly venture. Earlier this year I moved a TP client to WP and after downloading his pics for 36 hours, he pulled the plug on me because of cost. Why pay me to download terabytes of images when he could do it himself? Other than that, the migration was seamless and he has jumped from 11,000 hits per day to 50,000, mostly because his site rips and he’s on the ultimate user-friendly platform, namely, WordPress.

So a move from TP to WP would not be torture, though you might experience short-term pain. You can save your permalinks and your pics, which is the chief priority in a migration, and the cost of self-hosting WP is roughly $6 per month (as long as you don’t drive monster traffic). The only bad news is that as long as you remain on TP, you will remain their hostage.

Interestingly, I only see em dashes in this post, no double hyphens. And, I'm not doing anything, except somehow getting sucked into a conversation on grammar, and totally geeked out about it. :)

[NOTE FROM TIM: Jake went in and changed my two hyphens to an em dash, Jessica. That's why you can't see it any longer. Love,]

@Kamilla: Join us. Join us... or die. Or try alt and see if that works instead.

@Tim: Sorry to dash your hopes, but I think you'll manage.

Anon writes, "How did you make your em dashes???"

I run on a Windows platform. One of the more obscure utilities in the operating system is a small app named Character Map. It shows you every character in a sort of table, for each font you have installed on your 'puter. I simply select the character I want, copy it to my clipboard, and then I paste it into this comment composition field. Once it's in this latter venue, I can then copy and paste it repeatedly as needed.

The table for Arial, then, allows me to input weirdo, seldom used characters such as:

§

and

Ϡ

and

ڟ

and

ԋ

and so forth.

Kamilla:

Within the Microsoft OS there is the Character Map Fr. BIll referenced above, or there is an incredibly complex series of numbers associated with every special character, to include fun things such as the little "up arrow" above a vowel, the umlatt (I probably misspelled that atrociously), the accent mark, and the Yen symbol, to name a few.

They are called "ALT Key Codes" (it has to do with they way a computer thinks and, logically, makes more sense than the finger-acrobatics required to reproduce the same symbols under the Apple OS).

Penn State's TLT (Teaching and Learning with Technology) website has a comprehensive list of them.
(tlt dot its dot psu dot edu slash suggestions slash international slash accents slash codealt dot html)

Respectfully,
Jim Hogue

Oh, sorry, I know the Baylys don't like posters with anonymous handles. I thought the above "pentamom" would post under my own name -- I seem to have more than one identity in Typepad land.

@FR. BILL:

Mucho Thanks!

For years I have used the character map to shortcut my diphthongs and accents, because you never know when you may need to spell Wilhelmus à Brakel or Cæsar Augustus. But for a mut dash!

And, yes, MT supports it, which puts the ick in ironic because while MT does not support HTML mut dashes, it does support copied characters from Windows. This is, however, more evidence to support my contention that the boneheads at Six Apart don’t have a clue. Why would anyone design a blog interface that does not completely support HTML but does support cutting and pasting from a Windows character map? Leave it to SA.

Many thanks.

Tim, my editor's eye notes that there are two spaces in your text, and it did, indeed, muck up the readability. In fact, just between "mucks up" and "readability":

"Why remove spaces? Because many have the habit of treating their computer like a typewriter and it mucks up readability..."

[note: in previewing this post, it looks like it was automatically removed in my comment.]

Also recommend this helpful introduction to typography for non-designers. Specifically (hey there's an automatic ligature formed!), for lawyers.

www.typographyforlawyers.com

I think I'll create another ligature just for fun, if I don't ruffle your feathers! Did it.

Hmmmmm...just checked "Word," and it does indeed appear to select the proper spacing at the beginning of sentences with just one space. That wasn't the case when I started using it, for sure.

Ya learn something new every day, but along with Pentamom and others, it sure isn't the way I learned to type!

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