Pink Dog

No, I am not going to pay attention to this research

Full stops should be followed by one space, not two. We’re no longer living in a world of monospaced fonts. End of.

And therefore I will be ignoring this:

In the current study, participants performed (1) a typing task to assess spacing usage and (2) an eye-tracking experiment to assess the effect that punctuation spacing has on reading performance. Although comprehension was not affected by punctuation spacing, the eye movement record suggested that initial processing of the text was facilitated when periods were followed by two spaces.

I am going to cling on to this:

Individuals’ typing usage also influenced these effects such that those who use two spaces following a period showed the greatest overall facilitation from reading with two spaces.

So if everyone uses one space, then everyone will be better at reading single spaces. Simple. Back to as you were.


8 responses to “No, I am not going to pay attention to this research”

  1. While on the subject of punctuation….
    Should bullet points have full stops?
    When should a hyphen be used instead of a comma?
    How many commas make the reader comma-tose?
    To me the best solution to the comma conundrum is to keep sentences short! Period.

  2. As someone involved in proof reading of one form or another for my entire life, I would say that spacing and punctuation have almost no impact on reading performance.

    The choice of fonts certainly does and there is extensive research showing that serif fonts, particularly certain styles of serif font, improve reading legibility and comprehension considerably. Personally my preference is for Georgia, but it may be that different generations find other fonts facilitate their reading performance.

  3. And if we want to make it harder than necessary for readers to read let’s also insist that FOCUS leaflets use minimum font sizes.

  4. Depends what is meant by “reading performance” or indeed “initial processing of the text”. These are terms that could cover a number of things. For the researchers, when I encounter text full of phrases like “initial processing of the text”, my initial processing of the text is often to throw it away.

    As someone who writes poems and short stories, I don’t doubt that spacing can have a big effect on how people react to text. Say you’re describing, in prose, an incident in which someone suddenly comes into a situation of real physical danger. You hide this in a long paragraph and it will have less impact than if you put it in, say, four short sentences each forming its own para. But do that all the time and you will irritate people.

    I recently saw a Labour election leaflet which had a section about the NHS buried in a long paragraph. I wondered why they hadn’t made it a headline and given it a bit of space.

    As for short sentences, they’re often good, but text entirely composed of short sentences tends to seem jerky and you lose the ability to emphasise something by an unexpectedly short sentence. Moreover, leaving aside election leaflets, complex interrelation of ideas can be much better conveyed by a well-constructed long sentence. I read a novel by Michel Houllebecq a while back, in English, but I’d have guessed the original was in French. I found his willingness to write some long sentences conveying such interrelations refreshing.

  5. I just can’t fathom why anyone should worry about one space or two.. but I do hate full-stops being called a ‘period’.. that was the lesson slot on a school timetable, and, as any woman will tell you, it’s rather more than a little dot.!

  6. As a sufferer from macular disease – I find sans serif easier to read than serifs, Pale green or blue are illegible, and colourful backgrounds impossible, I love black on pale yellow – by far the easiest to read,

  7. The rule is that we should use our wonderful language flexibly and creatively, reflecting the writer, topic and audience. Let’s be liberal first before we eat, shoot and leave.

  8. If slightly more space after a fullstop makes it easier for the reader then we should be looking to have the computer system generate the extra space automatically. Giving the typist extra work is a stupid way to address the issue.

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