Today at Slate, Farhad Manjoo does editors and designers everywhere the service of insisting on the plain and simple truth: putting two spaces after a period (or a colon, or a question mark, or an exclamation point, or etc.) is not just unnecessary, it is wrong, and furthermore a pain in the ass for everyone who has to handle your work when you’re done with it. It wasn’t long ago that it didn’t really matter how many spaces you used in a manuscript. The typesetter would have to retype the entire thing character by character, and it was very easy for them to remember not to key two spaces simply because the manuscript contained them. However, things have changed. We no longer re-type anything. We insert documents into other documents. We copy and paste. While it has become increasingly common for writers to work with an awareness of what typesetters do (because they are more and more often themselves doing this work, though perhaps more often in a WordPress “Add New” page or a Dreamweaver window than InDesign or Quark Xpress), I am still frequently amazed and disheartened by the ways in which they choose to format their manuscripts. Let’s talk about these things a little.
First, we need to define the problem more clearly. Basically, our goal should be to create the cleanest, most format-neutral manuscripts possible, with clear indications of the work’s intended appearance. What you create is not what will be published, but a source document. The goal is therefore not to simulate a published page, but to make a useable document that serves that purpose. There are four areas where writers most frequently get things wrong: the aforementioned spaces between sentences, indenting paragraphs, paragraphing generally, and page breaks. READ MORE >