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Re: description writing guide

David B Harris wrote:

> Also, in the description template, two spaces are used after a period -
> is that standard nowadays? (My understanding was that they were
> primarily used for variable-width fonts, where a single space would take
> up very little page space.

There was an interesting discussion about this in debian-user a few
months back, with inconclusive results.

People who learned to type on mechanical typewriters with fixed-width
fonts generally were taught to use two spaces between sentences (and
perhaps after colons as well). So to say that two spaces "were primarily
used for variable-width fonts" is historically wrong; if anything, they
were, and are, more commonly used with fixed-width fonts.

Technical writing teachers usually go out of their way to get their
students to unlearn the two-spaces rule, and use only one space. I do
not know whether this is related to the fact that most documents
produced by technical writers are typeset with variable-width fonts.

During the debian-user thread on this subject, I did a quick survey of
several professionally-typeset books that were near at hand at the time.
IIRC, I found that about 70-80% of them did not use extra space between
sentences. This seems like enough to show that the general bias in
typesetting is to use a single space between sentences, but it also
shows that it's not an absolute.

As you can see from this message, I have completely given up on two
spaces, and always put only one space between sentences. I originally
learned to type on a typewriter, and was told to use two spaces; I did
this religiously until I did some technical writing and was told by the
other tech writers on staff to use only one space. I then observed that
my documents looked better without the extra space leaving ugly holes in
my paragraphs, and that most books and magazines didn't have the extra
space. I have been a single-space writer ever since.

> Since the descriptions should be presented in
> a fixed-width font (for many reasons, this also includes GUI package
> browsers), they're a bit redundant.)

I don't see any reason why package descriptions shouldn't be presented
in variable-width fonts. The right margin might look a bit ragged
(assuming the program preserves line breaks, which is probably a good
idea to avoid messing up bulletted lists in the description), but so
what? Package descriptions don't usually include tabular data that would
be seriously messed up by variable-width fonts.


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