Tuesday, January 24, 2012

White Space

USING WHITE SPACE - An Overview  Using White Space is important in writing.  Many folks worry about what to write or in what style to write it, without thinking about formatting and presentation.  However, text that is hard to read is also hard to understand. Figuring out how not to cover the page with text is as important as the text you use to cover the page. There are a number of features of white space, and you should carefully consider them all when writing anything from a personal letter, to a technical document, to a blog posting. Margins are the first consideration. Many an important document has been trivialized by poor margin choices. Providing white space at the sides, top, and bottom of each page is easier on the eye and makes reading more pleasant. As a practical effect, it also insures that copies of documents made will not have portions truncated, if they are too close to the edge of the page. Most folks use single-spacing for their text, and this makes the text look like an impenetrable jumble of black spiders. No wonder so many kids are Dyslexic! They are presented with poorly formatted texts. Use line-and-a-half or 18 point spacing (for 12-point type) to make lines easy to read and easy to distinguish from one another. When you finish a paragraph, hit "Enter" twice, to put a blank line between your paragraphs.  If you fail to do this, separate paragraphs can look like single long units, making them harder to read. So get in the habit, at the end of a paragraph, of "period, paragraph, enter, enter." Paragraphs should be about 3-4 sentences at most.  I know, all the great authors wrote paragraph-long sentences and paragraphs that went on for pages.  But you are not Herman Melville, so don't get fancy. Short, direct sentences, grouped into paragraphs of three to five sentences that make a coherent point are far better than run-on sentences or runaway paragraphs. This sounds silly, but after a period, put two spaces. Most folks miss this, and indeed, many grammar checkers online may point this out as an error. But "period, space, space" is a better way to go, and subtly lets the reader know the sentence has ended. White space is part of writing - whether it is English or Japanese or Sanskrit. The spacing between letters, sentences, paragraphs, as well as margins and the like, tell as much sometimes as the words themselves. I have formatted this article in three different formats - one with no white space whatsoever, one with some white space (what most people think is OK) and one with generous white space. Which is the easiest to read?




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 USING WHITE SPACE - An Overview


Using White Space is important in writing. Many folks worry about what to write or in what style to write it, without thinking about formatting and presentation.  However, text that is hard to read is also hard to understand.  Figuring out how not to cover the page with text is as important as the text you use to cover the page. There are a number of features of white space, and you should carefully consider them all when writing anything from a personal letter, to a technical document, to a blog posting.

Margins are the first consideration. Many an important document has been trivialized by poor margin choices. Providing white space at the sides, top, and bottom of each page is easier on the eye and makes reading more pleasant. As a practical effect, it also insures that copies of documents made will not have portions truncated, if they are too close to the edge of the page. Most folks use single-spacing for their text, and this makes the text look like an impenetrable jumble of black spiders.  No wonder so many kids are Dyslexic!  They are presented with poorly formatted texts. Use line-and-a-half or 18 point spacing (for 12-point type) to make lines easy to read and easy to distinguish from one another. Single-spacing is generally a poor choice.

When you finish a paragraph, hit "Enter" twice, to put a blank line between your paragraphs.   If you fail to do this, separate paragraphs can look like single long units, making them harder to read.  So get in the habit, at the end of a paragraph, of "period, paragraph, enter, enter." Paragraphs should be about 3-4 sentences at most. I know, all the great authors wrote paragraph-long sentences and paragraphs that went on for pages.  But you are not Herman Melville, so don't get fancy.  Short, direct sentences, grouped into paragraphs of three to five sentences that make a coherent point are far better than run-on sentences or runaway paragraphs.

This sounds silly, but after a period, put two spaces. Most folks miss this, and indeed, many grammar checkers online may point this out as an error. But "period, space, space" is a better way to go, and subtly lets the reader know the sentence has ended. White space is part of writing - whether it is English or Japanese or Sanskrit. The spacing between letters, sentences, paragraphs, as well as margins and the like, tell as much sometimes as the words themselves. I have formatted this article in three different formats - one with no white space whatsoever, one with some white space (what most people think is OK) and one with generous white space. Which is the easiest to read?



* * *


 USING WHITE SPACE - AN OVERVIEW

INTRODUCTION

Using White Space is important in writing.  Many folks worry about what to write or in what style to write it, without thinking about formatting and presentation.   However, text that is hard to read is also hard to understand.  Figuring out how not to cover the page with text is as important as the text you use to cover the page.

There are a number of features of white space, and you should carefully consider them all when writing anything from a personal letter, to a technical document, to a blog posting.


MARGINS

Margins are the first consideration.  Many an important document has been trivialized by poor margin choices.  Providing white space at the sides, top, and bottom of each page is easier on the eye and makes reading more pleasant.  As a practical effect, it also insures that copies of documents made will not have portions truncated, if they are too close to the edge of the page.


LINE SPACING

Most folks use single-spacing for their text, and this makes the text look like an impenetrable jumble of black spiders.  No wonder so many kids are Dyslexic!  They are presented with poorly formatted texts.  Use line-and-a-half or 18 point spacing (for 12-point type) to make lines easy to read and easy to distinguish from one another.  Single-spacing is generally a poor choice.


SPACES BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS, HEADERS

When you finish a paragraph, hit "Enter" twice, to put a blank line between your paragraphs.   If you fail to do this, separate paragraphs can look like single long units, making them harder to read.  So get in the habit, at the end of a paragraph, of "period, paragraph, enter, enter."


PARAGRAPH SIZES

Paragraphs should be about 3-4 sentences at most.   I know, all the great authors wrote paragraph-long sentences and paragraphs that went on for pages.   But you are not Herman Melville, so don't get fancy.  Short, direct sentences, grouped into paragraphs of three to five sentences that make a coherent point are far better than run-on sentences or runaway paragraphs.



SPACE BETWEEN SENTENCES

This sounds silly, but after a period, put two spaces.  Most folks miss this, and indeed, many grammar checkers online may point this out as an error.  But "period, space, space" is a better way to go, and subtly lets the reader know the sentence has ended.


CONCLUSION

White space is part of writing - whether it is English or Japanese or Sanskrit.  The spacing between letters, sentences, paragraphs, as well as margins and the like, tell as much sometimes as the words themselves.  I have formatted this article in three different formats - one with no white space whatsoever, one with some white space (what most people think is OK) and one with generous white space.  Which is the easiest to read?

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