Re: space

David Perrell (
Sun, 22 Sep 1996 16:30:29 -0700

Message-Id: <>
From: "David Perrell" <>
To: "Lee Daniel Crocker" <>, <>
Subject: Re: space
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 1996 16:30:29 -0700

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > Formally, in the English language there are situations apon which
> > space is inserted between items.  Some examples include the two
> > after a period ending a sentence and the two spaces between the
> > and zip code in an address.  Do people suggest this extra space be
> > maintained in HTML documents and how do people propose to do it?
> The "language" has no such needs; those are just old typewriter
> conventions that have no place in typeset text, and an HTML doc
> is typeset text.  The spacing after a sentence or before a ZIP
> code is entirely up to the browser/style sheet.

I think the typewriter convention was an emulation of the typesetting
convention. I have books dating back to 1886. From then to the mid-50s
it was standard practice to add space between sentences, for the simple
reason that it was easier to follow the flow of text - especially with
abbr. and small type. In typesetting, though, it appears not to be a
double space, but an em space preceding every sentence. On linotype
machines there was not a fixed word space character. The word spacing
was formed by wedgies that justified the line, so a double word space
may not have been possible.

The first books I find without extra sentence spacing are cheap
paperbacks from the mid-50s. I suspect the reason for the change in
style was economic, not esthetic.

David Perrell