Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A typographical nuisance


If you don't care about grammar or typesetting, you should just stop reading this post right now.  Lord knows that I should probably stop writing it.

I'm not much of a grammar nazi.  But I am somebody who, once I've gotten my nose rubbed in a grammatical issue, can never unsee it again.  For example, during grad school, Hal Abelson taught me once and for all how to tell whether to use "which" or "that": "that" begins a clause with information that is necessary to identify the subject, while "which" begins a clause with "bonus" information, which adds to your knowledge about an already identified subject (see what I did there?).  I have never since been able to use the wrong one or see the wrong one used without it whacking me in the face.  I even mark it on papers I'm reviewing---not that I am such a quibbler that I would ever put that on a review, but I can't help but notice it and mark it.  Similarly, I can't put a comma or period after a closing quotation mark, since it should be enclosed within the quotes.

And here's where Blogger bugs me on a totally trivial matter.  I reflexively type two spaces after a sentence.  Apparently I shouldn't, really, at least according to the god Wikipedia, which declares that this standard has gone by the wayside.  Still, I do.  It got drilled into me back in the monospace era, I'm really not sure how, and that's what I always do.  Absolutely reflexively.  I also tend to end my own lines with a return rather than letting them wrap, which is simply stupid for a typeset world, though that should really be blamed on my reliance on LaTeX as my choice for professional document production---you should see the madness of line lengths and comment structure there in my document source, all the better to maintain organization and keep version control as informative as possible.  LaTeX is also why I use these "---" separators, as they would produce an appropriate-length dash in LaTeX.

But anyway, back to the "two space" thing: when I type two spaces in a row, if it's at the end of a line, blogger will put the second space onto the next line.  Or maybe it's not blogger but my web browser, I don't know.  I think it's Blogger, because I know of no other text layout software or WYSIWYG editor in the world that will push whitespace onto another line unless absolutely forced.  It's doubly infuriating that the spaces are handled correctly in the article editor, then render incorrectly after it's published.  But whoever is wrapping my text, can you please finish parsing the whitespace before you start the next line?

And now, that's way more than ever should be said on a subject this trivial, particularly given that I can't illustrate my gripe as beautifully as Matthew Inman.
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