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The proofing bug

I've started proofing some more things recently.  Very recently, in fact: the last couple of days.  In fairness, one of these items had been sat in my inbox for about two weeks because I've been rather busy with work but I decided to hit this document the other day (mostly because I'd been told by the person who wanted it proofing that they want to finish the online magazine it's for by the end of next week).

The document is hell.  Absolute hell.  The state it is in now is not what I would call 'good' on my standards, it's 'okay', but compared to the state of it before it's now excellent!  There were full stops in the middle of sentences, commas where full stops should have been, random commas and apostrophes just everywhere, crazy formatting and even crazier phrasing, but what's worst of all is that actually aside from the fact that he swaps tenses randomly, half of the information is just missing!  Thankfully I know some of the topic area, but I don't know it all, which makes it insanely difficult to proof!

This brings me to another point.  Double spacing after a full stop.  Before I continue here, I shoud clarify that I mean a full stop at the end of a sentence, rather than in an ellipsis (...), thank you @pastamaster39.

To demonstrate my point I shall be writing the following paragraph and will be using only one space in this paragraph, but I shall be double spacing (again) in the next one. Firstly I would like to say that only single spacing is very odd for me because I was taught to double space when in school. Now I am really having to think every time I write a sentence (in proper prose) to NOT double space. When it comes to things like Twitter, MSN and other such things I am far lazier and do only single space, mostly because on Twitter and in texts a double space uses up characters which I need, and on MSN I often end up just using different lines for different sentences. Thank goodness for the enter button! But yes, I normally double space, just because I was taught to. There are reasons why I was taught to double space after full stops but I shall come on to those in the next paragraph when I am back to double spacing. As you can see here, this is now getting to be quite a substantial size of paragraph. I for one am finding it rather difficult to spot my own sentences, even whilst writing. I can't find the beginning or end of them, especially not in the middle of this paragraph! On the whole I find that if one only single spaces after a full stop then all of the sentences seem to blend into one. I know that there are plenty of published materials out there now which only single space, for whatever reason, and it bugs me because I find I end up losing my place far more frequently. If I had it my way, I would have everyone double spacing, especially when they want things proofed by me (I am sure other proofers think the same way, I'm looking at you ich_bin_die_ruh ). I will now demonstrate why in the next paragraph.

This paragraph has now returned to my usual double spacing after a full stop when in prose.  Immediately you should be able to see a difference between this paragraph and the one above it, just from a quick glance.  You should also, if you so wished to try it, be able to spot the sentences a lot faster in this paragraph than in the other.  By double spacing at the end of a sentence the eye is naturally drawn down the line to the break.  The break is a pause, a natural pause where you can breathe. I find that whilst reading out loud I am always glancing down the lines to find out where the sentence ends. It helps with phrasing and putting the correct inflections into the words.  Without that double space I find myself tending to rush on because I don't know when I'll be able to breathe. It helps with reading and with speaking and naturally it helps with proofing.  When proofing one needs to be able to see where the work is going and how long it takes to get there.  Sometimes it takes only a sentence but sometimes it takes a whole paragraph. If you're trying to correct the grammar and phrasing in a document it helps massively to be able to see easily where the sentences are. In works like this where the sentences are actually just wrong (in one sentence there are two quite good hmm phrases...  I can't quite think of the word I need here...  But they're just in the wrong order and needed swapping round to make it flow) you need to be able to see the whole of the sentence to be able to see that the phrasing in it is incorrect.  Though in this there were sentences with full stops in the middle and there were commas and full stops which were mixed up. If one double spaces after full stops then it also makes it easier to spot when the wrong thing has been done.  It also makes it easier to go back over your own work and edit things because you can find the area you wish to edit far easier, or you can in my opinion!

I don't know how many of you double space.  I know I do and it was hell typing that first paragraph with only single spaces.  I kept double spacing automatically and had to go back and alter it!  I know some people seem to think that it doesn't make a difference, but I think it does, especially when I'm proofing, but I'm interested to see what you guys think.

Do you double space?  Do you think there is a difference between single spacing and double spacing?  Do you prefer one or the other?  Are you not bothered in one slightest bit and are completely bemused as to why I am up on double spacing?  I want your thoughts.  I'd like to see what you think.

Edit: I should add that despite my writing this with double spacing for most of it, when one writes it in HTML rather than rich text for some INSANE reason it reverts back to single spacing when posted...  I have just had to check this by using the show/hide button on Word.  If anyone wants proof of this I'll printscreen it for you, but here it is, correctly, though alas in rich text instead.  LiveJournal you fail sometimes.



( 20 humble opinions — Your humble opinion? )
Apr. 2nd, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
I hate seeing things not double spaced. It looks horrible and unprofessional otherwise. I learned double spacing in 5th grade. It's just standard typing etiquette, which seems to be ignored by nearly everyone these days. Who needs to learn how to type/spell anyway, now that text speak has taken over and spell check is used for everything...
Apr. 2nd, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
Damn shame, isn't it? It's not exactly hard to learn to type correctly, and it's a very good skill to have! Proper typing looks professional and can really raise the level of a document.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)

It would explain a lot if it were a British thing. I never heard of anyone doing it in German, not even older people.
I tried to check in my English books, but I still wasn´t sure, so I decided that I don´t mind. But it´s good to know, and if I ever write a formal text in English, I´ll try to remember to do double spaces. :)
Apr. 2nd, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hello there :)

I think it was initially a British thing, but if any foreigners have had anything proofed by me they've had it mentioned to them! Older generations of Brits definitely double space, and have been telling me so on Twitter since I started all this earlier!

If all of the text is double or single spaced you don't notice so much, it's when it has a mix, which is just damned annoying. Double spacing does take some getting used to, but when you're used to it you'll just do it all the time. Friend of mine from Sweden who didn't know about this until I told her has now started double spacing and has agreed that while she might forget sometimes, it does make a huge difference. I don't know whether she double spaces now in Swedish, but she might do! There's no law against double spacing in any language, it's just whatever is done before. However, if you do decide to double space, you'll find yourself doing it all the time.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
I simply don´t see it, I´m afraid. I´m quite sure you used double spaces in this post, too, but just from looking at the text I wouldn´t know. Apparently my brain doesn´t like small spaces, or something.
...Wait. Does Lj erase one of the spaces automatically? *is confused*

I think it would be extremely difficult to change my habit (I type a lot). I tried it now and it´s strange, and I would probably end up mixing it all the time. Which would be even worse.

But thanks for bringing it to my attention!
(I´ll friend you, if you don´t mind. You post about funny music quotes! &hearts Do you mind if I show them to my mother?, she´s a music teacher and collects such things.)
Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Alas LJ has an annoying habit of removing ones double spaces when writing in HTML (which the comments are in). If you see the post above it is all double spaced apart from the one paragraph that says it's not. You should be able to see the difference there :) I'll also printscreen some shots from Word when I find time.

If you do end up swapping and mixing it up, and you're using Word, use the show/hide button (the one that looks like a backwards P)and it will show you which ones you've double spaced. I had to do that for a while when learning (and I still use it from time to time just to check when I'm not sure of things, which is mostly when I change fonts!)

Ooh yeah go ahead, I was going to friend you anyway because you seem nice. I'm a bit... out of touch with LJ at the moment due to working a lot (and escaping from work recently and going around the city with visiting friends :D) but I should be back at some point!

Feel free to link music stuff to your mother. I am a musician myself and am intending on going to become a Primary school teacher, specialising in music. I shall also go one better and link you to a very awesome musical jokes page, when I can find it again!
Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I saw it in your post, which is why I was really confused when I couldn´t see it in books and comments...

Musical jokes page! :D I shall attempt to locate my mother´s collection and send it to you, if you´re interested. There can never be enough music jokes.
(Musician? Which instrument(s)?)

(Also, hi, we´re in the same city! ^^)

...I totally didn´t know what time it is, btw. Officially. Good night & sleep well!

Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, LJ is annoying like that. It's going to bug me now I know about it. Grr.

Oooh yes indeed. There can never be enough musical jokes! I play Oboe and I sing, though here I guess it would be classed as playing the French Oboe ;)

Hello from 22nd District :) Maybe I'll see you around sometime.

Nighty night for now!
Apr. 3rd, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
Die Welt ist klein. Schöne Grüße aus Aspern! :D

I´m terrible with English musical terms, and if there is more than one kind of Oboe, I probably can´t distinguish them anyway, so Oboe is fine. ^^
May. 28th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
Gah I should make more of an effort to actually notice peoples comments on my things! Oddly I'm a few stops down your 26 line, near Erzherzog-Karl-Strasse.

I only know there is a difference in Oboe from watching one of the Wiener Philharmoniker videos at Haus der Musik and they talk about how there is a Wiener Oboe and how the guy there couldn't play a note on a French one because he plays Wiener Oboe, apparently. I take that as a challenge mwha!

While I'm here, and because I totally forgot before, musical jokes http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/jokes/
Jun. 4th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
More music jokes! :D
Do you know Faerie´s´ Aire and Death Waltz? If you´re looking for challenges... (I´m particularly fond of the part with the penguins.)

So close! If we don´t get to eat ice-cream together before you move back to England I´ll be very disappointed.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
And that is why double spacing is considered old fashioned these days. It does not work in may forms of DTP or in much online stuff because the double space is not recognised. Modern technical authoring frowns on it...

If you did it in a document for me, I'd ask you to remove it.

Edited at 2010-04-02 09:37 pm (UTC)
Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)

On the whole, if I proof for people who don't have it double spaced I won't go through and do it all because that's far too time consuming. I mean it can be done easily for say 5 sentences but it's insanely annoying to do a whole document with it, so don't worry about that!

It's a shame the double space isn't recognised because I find it really does make things a LOT easier to read. Damn you modern technology.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Desk Top Publishing...

I think the last time I saw double spacing used in my line of work was about 20 years ago, and it was considered old-fashioned then.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Weird, because I was taught it in school, and I wasn't even IN school 20 years ago. I vividly remember sitting in IT lessons in Y7 and being taught it... that would be 98 ;)

Personally I can't see why they're getting rid of it and it annoys me as much as the removal of the h from yoghurt.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:51 am (UTC)
I didn't even know there was something called: Double spacing until you started talking about it.
In Germany nobody double spaces. My word would actually underline it green if I'd double space. I even had a look in books now and there is no double spacing either.
Personally I find it interrupting the text now that I have looked at yours. I think I prefer not to double space judging by the looks.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
Haha really? Mine might underline it green if I did it in the middle of a sentence, but definitely not after the full stop at the end!

I suppose it's mostly what you've been brought up with. I've been brought up with double spacing, so even though it doesn't actually show on here because LJ doesn't recognise the double space in HTML, I'm still doing it. The biggest one is where you see documents in Word, because its more formal there normally.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
Give yourself a year or so of regular proofreading and spacing will go so far down your list of priorities you'll wonder why you ever thought it even faintly annoying. I touch-type and my first few employers wanted me to double space so I do it automatically now, but I do recall that it felt very awkward and unnecessary at first. Once you're used to it it makes text easier to read, but I was used to single spacing before too so I didn't mind that then. My proofreading eye goes for double spaces within sentences, and I get mildly perturbed by double spaces after other punctuation (namely colons and semi-colons) which wouldn't have arisen if people hadn't been encouraged to double space after full stops.

All that being said, seriously, do the proofreading thing for some time and I'm pretty confident your grammatical annoyances will dissipate. These days I'm even OK with Zs in words like 'realise' when other words in the document are spelled the English way (colour, etc.), and that was a major annoyance of mine when I started. Also, read some books from the Tor publishing house and all other publications will appear erudite and correct in all relevant points. Man.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, probably, I've just had some really bad work to proof recently and have almost literally been tearing my hair out at it, and it just got me wondering about the double spacing. That wasn't by far the issue that got me annoyed, that one is just the one I can talk about without completely slagging off one of these writers!

I touch-type and my first few employers wanted me to double space so I do it automatically now, but I do recall that it felt very awkward and unnecessary at first. - I was taught to do this in school. Not touch type, per se, because that takes time and practice (of which I have been getting out of practice recently) but definitely double spacing was something we were told to always do. I don't remember ever being told not to. The golden rule with it though was that you ONLY double space after full stops at the end of sentences, never after anything else. As for making it easier to read, I know it does, but then most of the things I've read over the past few years has been my own, which has all been double spaced anyway, so when it comes to something that is prose I expect to see it. Stories with lots of dialogue and blogging seem to be able to get away with it because normally there are enough paragraph breaks for it to not bother you, but longer essays where one paragraph can be a minimum of half a page long it can be difficult to find things.

Americanised spellings I'm getting better with. Yes they still annoy me, but it annoys me more when it randomly swaps between British and American spellings!

I shall have to make a note to show you a particular book of mine which is at home. I love the book, but whoever did the typesetting of it needs help. Not only are there typos where they've mis-spelled characters names, some of the sentences are split between two lines, with half a line break in the middle. Very strange and somewhat annoying.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber, which I picked up in Barnes & Noble in Cumming, GA (yes, that is the place name), whilst waiting for something interesting to happen, but I got my notebook out half way through to make notes of essential corrections, like spelling names two or three ways in the space of a double page. Tor also produce the Kushiel's Legacy series, which is nearly as bad: YOU CAN'T HAVE *A* BRETHREN, YOU FOREIGN MORONS, 'BRETHREN' IS A P. L. U. R. A. L. ARG.
( 20 humble opinions — Your humble opinion? )


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