“Who says two spaces is wrong?”

Typographers, that’s who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences.

That convention was not arrived at casually. James Felici, author of the The Complete Manual of Typography, points out that the early history of type is one of inconsistent spacing. Hundreds of years ago some typesetters would end sentences with a double space, others would use a single space, and a few renegades would use three or four spaces. Inconsistency reigned in all facets of written communication; there were few conventions regarding spelling, punctuation, character design, and ways to add emphasis to type. But as typesetting became more widespread, its practitioners began to adopt best practices. Typesetters in Europe began to settle on a single space around the early 20th century. America followed soon after.

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.) Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren’t for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine’s shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do. (Also see the persistence of the dreaded Caps Lock key.)

The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition of proportional typesetting, in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks “loose” and uneven; there’s a lot of white space between characters and words, so it’s more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here’s the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.

Type professionals can get amusingly—if justifiably—overworked about spaces. “Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Ilene Strizver, who runs a typographic consulting firm The Type Studio, once wrote. “When I see two spaces I shake my head and I go, Aye yay yay,” she told me. “I talk about ‘type crimes’ often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment. It’s a pure sign of amateur typography.” “A space signals a pause,” says David Jury, the author of About Face: Reviving The Rules of Typography. “If you get a really big pause—a big hole—in the middle of a line, the reader pauses. And you don’t want people to pause all the time. You want the text to flow.”

This readability argument is debatable. Typographers can point to no studies or any other evidence proving that single spaces improve readability. When you press them on it, they tend to cite their aesthetic sensibilities.

But actually the aesthetics are the best argument in favor of one space over two. One space is simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing (it also requires less work, which isn’t nothing). A page of text with two spaces between every sentence looks riddled with holes; a page of text with an ordinary space looks just as it should.

Is this arbitrary? Sure it is. But so are a lot of our conventions for writing. It’s arbitrary that we write shop instead of shoppe, or phone instead of fone. We adopted these standards because practitioners of publishing—writers, editors, typographers, and others—settled on them after decades of experience. Among their rules was that we should use one space after a period instead of two—so that’s how we should do it.

Besides, the argument in favor of two spaces isn’t any less arbitrary. Samantha Jacobs, a reading and journalism teacher at Norwood High School in Norwood, Col., told me that she requires her students to use two spaces after a period instead of one, even though she acknowledges that style manuals no longer favor that approach. Why? Because that’s what she’s used to. “Primarily, I base the spacing on the way I learned,” she wrote me in an e-mail glutted with extra spaces.

Several other teachers gave the same explanation for pushing two spaces on their students. But if you think about, that’s a pretty backward approach: The only reason today’s teachers learned to use two spaces is because their teachers were in the grip of old-school technology. We would never accept teachers pushing other outmoded ideas on kids because that’s what was popular back when they were in school. The same should go for typing. So, kids, if your teachers force you to use two spaces, send them a link to this article. Use this as your subject line: “If you type two spaces after a period, you’re doing it wrong.”

Via: Neatorama, Slate

To The Pain

The Princess Bride, from 1987, is one of my favorite films, balancing as it does romance, comedy and adventure.  The movie uses a very cool framing device of a grandfather recounting the story to his ill grandson with the child complaining about the story at various points.

Imagine my pleasure when I came across this marvelous kinetic type animation by Emily Kiel which covers one of the may memorable scenes from the film.

Here we find Humperdinck and Westley confronting each other – again.  This is not going to be to the death, but to the pain - which sounds a lot more protracted and grisly.

Via: Kuriositas

Image Dump: 021910

Unless otherwise noted circa71 does not claim any copyrights to images that appear on circa71.wordpress.com.

The History Of The Ampersand

A Brief History of the Ampersand
The ampersand can be traced back to the first century AD. It was originally a ligature of the letters E and T (”et” is Latin for and). If you look at the modern ampersand, you’ll likely still be able to see the E and T separately.

The first ampersands looked very much like the separate E and T combined, but as type developed over the next few centuries, it eventually became more stylized and less representative of its origins. The modern ampersand has remained largely unchanged from the Carolignian ampersands developed in the ninth century.

You can see the evolution of the ampersand below (1 is like the original Roman ligature, 2 and 3 are from the fourth century, and 4-6 are from the ninth century).

Italic ampersands were a later ligature of E and T, and are also present in modern fonts. These were developed as part of cursive scripts that were developed during the Renaissance. They’re often more formal-looking and fancier than the standard Carolignian ampersand.

The word “ampersand” was first added to dictionaries in 1837. The word was created as a slurred form of “and, per se and”, which was what the alphabet ended with when recited in English-speaking schools. (Historically, “and per se” preceded any letter which was also a word in the alphabet, such as “I” or “A”. And the ampersand symbol was originally the last character in the alphabet.)

The ampersand is a part of every roman font. It’s used in modern text often, probably most frequently in the names of corporations and other businesses, or in other formal titles.

It’s experiencing a bit of a resurgence in general usage, as it commonly replaces “and” in text messages and Twitter updates. Ampersands are also commonly used in programming, particularly in MySQL, C and C++, XML, SGML, and BASIC.

Ampersand Designs
The ampersand is one of the most unique typographical characters out there. Typography designers can exercise a lot more artistic freedom in the design of the ampersand, ranging from very traditional representations to those that bear little resemblance to the original form.
See a gallery of ampersand designs from a variety of different typefaces.

Image Dump: 012810

Unless otherwise noted Circa71 does not claim any copyrights to images that appear on Circa71.wordpress.com.

Image Dump: 011210

Unless otherwise noted Circa71 does not claim any copyrights to images that appear on Circa71.wordpress.com.

Flickr Set Love: Beer!

I’ve always been enamored by beer can art. I have one of the JR Ewing beer cans from a beer can collection I had when I was young. Some feature really cool typography and design styles. Below are a few of my favorites.

Check out this most excellent Flickr set Beer! by Lance15100.
You can access the full Flickr set and corresponding slideshow here.


Via: Lance15100