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30 October 2006

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John Law Student

One problem I’ve run in to is ending sentences with “a.m.” or “p.m.” I now just avoid this (not too hard), but it is visually confusing when only using one space between sentences.

Although the style guides vary, the proper typographical solution is to use small caps for this kind of abbreviation. But my legal writing prof specifically said not to do this. Small caps are kind of a pain anyway. Despite the advice of every style guide (The Red Book, MLA, Chicago), he also prefers two spaces between sentences although does not require it.

I personally type two spaces after a period by force of habit, and likely always will. In email it makes sense: you should not assume a proportional font on the other end. (And in email you should stick to strict ASCII and avoid any special formatting, but that’s a different story.)

When creating something that is to be printed or turned into a PDF (same thing really) I always do a search and replace on the two spaces.

I recommend the book “The Mac is Not a Typewriter” (there’s also “The PC is Not a Typewriter”). It is a crash course on the basic typographical conventions one should follow when creating text on a computer.

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