Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Ask Why Ask Rick?

Kids ask why.  I've never been fond of the "because I told you so" answer.  It grates.

Yesterday, my eldest missed school because she was sick.  My rule is, "you write the note and I'll sign it".  I just can't let them be sick for nothing.

She was typing the note in on the computer while I stood over her shoulder with my trusty bull whip and I noticed she was single spacing after periods.  I told her she needed to double space after periods.  She said, "why do you have to do that?"

At first I was kind of concerned about the quality of education in schools these days.  Then I said, "I don't know, that's just the way they do it."  Whoever "they" are.

I immediately regretted it.  Okay, 12 hours later I regretted it.  Why do they double space after periods?  Is it for readability?  It creates better delineation between sentences so you can easily tell where one sentence starts and another stops?  I could have had an entire dialog.  It's not just periods, it's any ending to a sentence, but I didn't do any of that.  I behaved like Rick.

We should be appreciative when youngsters ask why.  And when you answer, they should ask why again.  You'll be grooming a mind to not vote for people like Rick Santorum.

edit: I have been shown the error of my ways. It seems to be, in fact, wrong to double space at the end of a sentence. It has something to do with fixed-width and old typewriters. And you should note how blogging can be good for you. And keep asking why.


  1. Back in the dark ages when some of us learned to type on manual typewriters, it was common practice to double space after a period because the type was monospaced (all letters took up the same amount of space). Not so since the advent of that now ubiquitous machine, the computer, as modern typesetting features proportional type - that is, a "1" or a lower case "L" takes up less space than, say, "W."

    Your document will look better over all with one space. Double spaces make for big ol' holes in the type and actually affect readability. (Not so important in an excuse note but why be sloppy?) As a designer, I shudder when I see such. And inch marks for quote marks, but that's a different story.

    Man, this character verification thing is NOT going to boost your comments. Now I'm not only irritated by bad typography, I'm blind, too.

  2. I have tried with and without the word verification thing. My comment level stays the same. With the word verification, I don't get 100 junk emails per day from Google with comments that need moderating.

    Thanks for the update on the periods. Apparently when I make a mistake, people come out of the woodwork. I'm surprised Durango hasn't chimed in yet. I'm happy for the education though :).

    This double-spacing after the period is going to be a hard habit to break.

    I'll have to do a follow up...

  3. What CatsPaw said: It's worth breaking yourself of the habit.

    One of the last things I do on papers I write is to do a global search-&-replace for double spaces. They still sneak in there, especially with geriatric coauthors like me that learned to type on a typewriters.

    Now, there's just no need. When was the last time you touched a selectric?

  4. I can't remember the last time I saw a selectric. I learned to type on an Apple II computer. I have no idea why I was taught to double-space after periods. I'm working on a script now to go through my 500+ blog postings and remove double spaces.