Improper Spacing: A Pet Peeve

May 25th, 2012 | Posted in Blogging, Internet, Opinion, Writing | Comments Off on Improper Spacing: A Pet Peeve

There is something about the way web browsers interpret space characters that has always bothered me.  Every web browser I have ever seen collapses any number of spaces into a single space character.

This continues to irritate the living snot out of me every time I see it and especially when it happens to text that I write, which of course includes anything that is published in HTML.

The reason for this goes back to high school typing class.  It was one of the basic rules of proper formatting of text that a sentence ends not only with a period but with two spaces before the beginning of the next sentence.

These days however HTML makes following that basic rule difficult to say the least because any group of two or more whitespace characters are automatically collapsed into a single space.  The only way to force proper formatting is to use the code "nbsp;" to create a “non-breaking space”, a special character that among other things, does not get collapsed into a single space.

Of course, doing this in the course of writing is a royal pain because you cannot simply type a "nbsp;" key and therefore it isn’t used very often to enforce the “period, space, space” rule at the end of sentences.

And so the use of correct spacing between sentences has all but vanished.  Not only is it very nearly never seen in HTML documents, it has fallen out of use in plain text documents such as emails or text files.

Every time I see it I find it to be an irritant Rather like a very small insect buzzing in my ear.  Usually I can manage to force myself to ignore it but every once in a while it becomes something that makes me want to scream; “THIS IS WRONG”, even though I am well aware that almost nobody else cares even a little bit.

This post, like every text document or email that I write is written with a period an two spaces at the end of every sentence Even though I know that it will not be rendered that way.

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