Tuesday, February 25, 2003

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Some people write down their childhood experiences to remember how petty they once were, and to excuse themselves for past silliness. I'm not that sort of people. I write to justify my silliness.

Back when I was in second grade, my family live d in Seville and mom decided to homeschool us for a year. She had the help of a lady who had come to Spain to work as a teacher for the various missionary kids of TEAM, who were spread out acro ss the provinces of Andalucia, in southern Spain. She came to help out a few times a month. At the time, I was learning to write longer essays, and she would coach me on penmanship and grammar. I remember one time being incensed because she insisted on putting two spaces after periods that closed a sentence. It made no sense to my eight year-old mind, why in the world would you be so picky as to study somebody's handwriting and critique them for having improper spacing after their periods? Why the ar bitrary spacing of two spaces? Why, why, why?

She didn't know. And so I yelled at her. I told her that she probably wouldn't correct my brother for the same thing, and that she just had it in for me, she just did it to annoy me. I'm pretty sure I didn't get punished; but I remember she had a long talk with my mom.

In the ninth grade, I took a typing class at the Evangelical Christian Academy. This is where I first learned what a block letter was, to work with Apple IIe computers, and to program in BASIC. With regards to typing, we used old model typewriters with monotype fonts (letters of equal width), and learned to put two spaces after the period. It would seem that my old teacher was right.

However, as I've grown older, I'm a lso wiser and I discovered the world of typography. According to the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, typography is:

the rightful distribution of letters and spaces (histo ri cally, using lead type) on a surface (sometimes vellum, usually paper, and now -- apparently -- a monitor or screen) to convey information and facilitate understanding.

Through reading I've done in typography, I came across the little-known fact -- little known to my second-grade teacher, obviously -- that monotype fonts need two spaces after the period, but that any decent font will have the spacing in between characters adjusted well enough to require only one space after the period. In fact, a well researched report from Webword.com has this to say:

The current typographic standard for a single space after the period is a reflection of the power of proportionally spaced fonts.

Thank you.

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