Space and Justification

No, I am not going to hop up on my soapbox and opine about why there is plenty of scientific justification to continue the space program, which is so important to Houston.

Rather, I’m going to discuss spaces and justification in your documents, as both of these affect readability.

First, left justification is preferred to full justification. The reason is that the spaces between words are consistent with left justification and vary greatly with full justification.

Second, we use a single space between sentences these days, not two spaces.

You see, back in the day when we used typewriters with monospace typefaces, each character got the same amount of space on the page, whether an ‘i’ or an “M”.

To make it easier for the reader to locate the end of the sentence, two spaces were used in typewritten documents.

However, with proportionally spaced fonts like we use today in Word, the extra spacing detracts from readability by creating white space “holes” in the text, so we just use a single space there.

Personal anecdote: Some of the best advice my mom ever gave me was to “Take a typing class in high school. You can always fall back on being a secretary if the chemistry thing doesn’t work out for whatever reason.”

Who knew they would invent personal computers, that typewriters would disappear into museums, and I would end up typing technical documents all day?

Thanks, Mom!

(I wish I had taken shorthand, too. It would have come in handy as an oil journalist.)

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