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Re: description writing guide

Scott James Remnant wrote:

> In correct English grammar and typography the space after a full stop
> ("period" in Merkin) is supposed to be a wider space then that between
> words and after commas and suchlike.
> Therefore typists were always taught to press the space key twice after
> a full stop.  This rule applies to any *fixed*-width font.
> So it would be correct to use two spaces after the full stop in a
> package description, because those are renfered with a fixed-width font.

They are? Everywhere? By everyone?

I would probably agree that _most_ package managers (especially non-GUI
ones, of course) display descriptions in a fixed-width font, but you
can't guarantee that they all do. Nor am I aware of anything in Debian
policy that says they should.

I suppose you could argue that the convention should be in accordance
with the most common user experience, but the whole idea of having
different rules for fixed vs. variable-width fonts runs into trouble
when you don't know what kind of font will ultimately be used by any
given user's configuration.

> If you are writing text in something that uses variable width fonts, the
> program should know about English grammar and render the wider space
> itself on any whitespace.  (LaTeX is about the only thing that gets it
> right though).

Hmm, you just gave a rule specifically for fixed-width fonts, and now
you're tacitly assuming that it applies to variable-width fonts as well?

> (If this is wrong, blame the secretary I just asked :)

There are certainly a lot of professionally-typeset books and magazines
out there that don't use extra space between sentences. It's not
universal, however. Some do, and some don't. My impression is that the
majority of professionally-typeset material does not use extra space.
I'm not sure how useful a rule is, regardless of its authority, if most
of the people who ought to know enough to follow it choose not to do so.
Shall we rigorously avoid splitting infinitives, as well? (That's sort
of a cheap shot, since IIRC recent editions of Strunk & White no longer
argue against split infinitives, but then again, that rule was dropped
because it was so commonly violated, not because the community of
professional grammarians changed their mind about it.)


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