By Christine Roy
When it comes to technology and habit, I sometimes wonder if it’s at all possible to teach an old dog some new tricks.
Over the summer, I encountered an article that made me plant my feet and stubbornly refuse change. The man who wrote it, Farhad Manjoo, claimed that using two spaces after a period is a mistake that drives typographers crazy.
At the time, I really didn’t care. I learned to type a long time ago, though I can’t exactly remember how old I was. I do recall it was either in or before Grade 6 and I was taught that two spaces were required after a period.
Manjoo could go fish up a tree for all I cared, there was no way I was changing what I’d been taught and his article could go fish up that tree with him.
And then I read it after a proof reader friend of mine insisted, though it was several weeks later.
Why is it that some people use two spaces instead of one after a period? Well, it all hails back to the days of the old-fashioned typewriter. Manjoo explained it with fancy words that kind of made my mind go blank but here it is in simpler format.
Typewriter letters were inconsistent in size, some were wider while others were thinner. This made staring at a typewritten page an eyesore for typographers. Two spaces apparently helped balance out the size difference.
However, now that the typewriter is basically obsolete and an antiquated form of document creation, computers have more or less fixed the issue of letter sizes.
Aside for the Courier font, letters and spaces in a word processing program are now proportioned and that’s why typographers have much gnashing of the teeth and pulling of the hair when it comes to one space over two after a period.
It’s all about being more pleasing to the eye at the end of the day.
“But I actually think aesthetics are the best argument in favor of one space over two. One space is simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing,” Manjoo wrote.
I honestly don’t see the difference, personally.
So while I did my best to follow this “new rule” for typing, I caught myself using two spaces more often than one in the writing of this document.
I’m just an old dog and this new trick is going to be a tough one to learn.T