Typography lessons for everyone | How About Orange

September 16, 2010

Typography lessons for everyone

Friends, I've discovered a website that makes me giddy with joy: Typography for Lawyers (via Swiss Miss). If the words "typography" and "lawyers" don't usually make you giddy, bear with me. The site is a well-written, beautiful piece of work from Matthew Butterick, a typographer-turned-attorney. If you're a non-designer, this simple guide will help you make pages of words look better. And if you're a designer who's tired of telling folks to stop using two spaces after periods, send those peeps right over here to get them straightened out. And soon the world will be a better place.

52 comments:

Katherine said...

As a recent law graduate and big fan of design, this site is pretty much perfect for me in every way. Thank you so much for sharing!

Jess said...

Wow, this is perfect for you. You're so welcome!

Jinxie said...

But...but...I can't NOT put two spaces after a period. It's how I was taught, and how I've done it for the last 8 years I've spent as a legal secretary. The double-space maybe incorrect or obsolete these days, but I think it'd be physically impossible for me to only space once.

Grandma G said...

Very interesting! But I don't know if my thumb could ever get used to putting only one space after periods. It's been ingrained for TOO many years! It's a good thing Blogger corrects it for me in my comments and on my blog. LOL

Mum/fromtheoldschool

Petit Design Co. said...

I found it very amusing! I was glad to see curlz, and comic sans on the list of "never use" fonts

Butterfly Fly said...

Great site. Straight quotes drive me nuts.

jane said...

Complete agreement with Jinxie and Grandma G! Just can't stop doing it. And I think it looks fine that way. His example uses three spaces to illustrate using two spaces?!

Jess said...

Ladies, if you can learn to type two spaces automatically, you can learn to type one space. You can do it! Practice makes perfect.

Petit Design: indeed. Comic Sans has become the poster child for universally detested fonts, but nobody has launched a campaign to ban Curlz, as far as I know. Let's start one.

Jess said...

Jane, your comment came in while I was typing the other one. You're correct about the three spaces. The author says:

"(PS. Yes, I know there are three spaces in the “double spaced” paragraph above. Word spacing is much coarser on the screen than on the printed page, so I had to exaggerate the HTML to make the illustration realistic.)"

I think the number of comments on the "two spaces" page of that site is fascinating. Clearly it's a hot bed of controversy!

Dree said...

I love it! Though it should be Typography for Everyone.

As a former editor and now mom/volunteer, I am so sick of seeing so many school publications that do all the things he warns against. Even the development material. (Who would want to donate to a school that puts together such a horrific document?) It's embarrassing! And they are convinced they are right!

Jess said...

Oh. Excuse me; "hotbed" is one word. I got a little space-happy myself.

Jess said...

Dree, I imagine you're right. Or maybe typographical lessons. Or lessons on typography. Now I just need a website with copywriting guidelines.

Heather said...

Love this! I needed these lessons. Thanks for sharing, and consequently, educating me.

Jennifer said...

Haha that's awesome!

Anonymous said...

As a lawyer (and quilter),I first came across your blog when I saw a crafting/quilting project last year. I thought the Typography for Lawyers site was very interesting. I am very fond of two spaces after a period. (I think it's easier to read.) Those who don't like them can rest easy as I think in 30 years or so, everyone who was taught to type two spaces will be gone! My legal assistants all type one space and it drives me nuts.

jane said...

Yeah, I saw his explanation, I just disagree about that the illustration is realistic.

I learned the double space approach many, many years ago. It would take concerted effort to change it and would seriously impact my typing speed in the meantime, so I will continue my backward ways.

Jess said...

Okay, very good! :)

Tiff said...

Wow, this was totally eye-opening. I am about to start writing my PhD thesis in Biochemistry and I hope to use some of these suggestions. However, now I am stressed about picking a font for my thesis. I probably won't go out and buy a new font, so I was looking at the ones he suggests. What do you think about Century Schoolbook for a thesis? To me, it feels a bit older---probably because it reminds me of a typewriter. That makes it a bit more fun in my mind than some of the others. I think I might not mind staring at it for months and months. What do you think? Any other suggestions?

tiph said...

I HATE when people put two spaces after periods. One person told me that newspapers put two spaces after the period so it's obviously okay, and I almost strangled them with a lowercase sans-serif n.

Tara S. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Just what I need!

Susie C said...

How interesting the two-space v one-space dialog is! I too am a two-spacer and honestly, as a non-graphic-design person surprise myself with the intensity of my own two-space reaction. My mother taught me as I was typing my college essays always to double space after a period. How could I turn on her now?
Well, probably, now that you've alerted me that this is a thing, it won't be long. On the other hand, many people find capitalization, spelling and punctuation, not to say actual sentence structure, totally optional. In such a world how can we argue over double vs single spacing?!?

How unsettling your blog is today, Jess!

liz @ bon temps beignet said...

I agree with the other ladies.(space space)What's wrong with the double spaces? : (

Miche said...

Love it. It's one thing to have a hard time giving up the two spaces, but for God's sake, please quit teaching it to the kids today. I spend so much time trying to un-teach this antiquated habit.

Grandma G said...

I agree with Susie C! I am very unsettled! Let's teach capitalization, spelling and punctuation before we go worrying about a space or two!!

Mum/VERYoldschool :)

bell*bisou said...

Love it. As a designer who has dealt with non-creative types, this is a godsend.

Denise said...

god! i'm fascinated by that blog & i'm already forcing myself to use 1 space instead of 2. thanks so much for sharing this!

jamie christine said...

probably won't be able to sleep tonight, agonizing over the one space vs. two thing. my thumb hurts as I try to hold it back from punching twice after a period. or maybe it's my pinkie that hurts from back spacing and fixing it. sheesh. jess, we must meet and discuss this conundrum in person soon~

ourthreesons said...

I too am amazed at the controversy about the double spacing issue! I also was taught to put two spaces after a period and have been working in the print industry for the last 24 years (as a typesetter, but who calls us that anymore!) and always double space. Now I don't know what I should do when I go to work tomorrow. Also, the list of forbidden fonts amazes me, I must say, it seems there is a bit of font snobbery going on there.

Jacqui said...

My husband's an editor for an academic journal and he says he just does an automatic replace on double spaces - which is good because I'm one of the luddites who learnt on a typewriter and can't seem to stop. Although oddly I've just discovered I only use one space when typing comments on the internet. Anyways, being a font-lover he's in the market for a new one so I've sent him the link and hopefully he'll find something and be happy. And I'll get the credit. ;)

Laura said...

Thank you for this brilliant website! I am an "ex-designer" who no longer practices professionally, but typography still rules most of my life. The frustration in explaining to others in my non-designer career the power of type just got a little easier. Thanks!

Tina @ Squirrel Acorns said...

I'm not a lawyer, but our consulting firm writes a lot of reports. In Times New Roman! Maybe we need to start thinking more "fresh". And I'll see if I can start only doing one space. It will be hard, but his example was pretty convincing. Anything I can do to make someone actually read our entire 30 page report will be helpful.

Anonymous said...

I prepare legal summaries for a living, and the company that I work for requires two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence and one space after a colon. Personally, I like the one-space rule, but using one space for personal writing and two for work would be confusing.

Thanks for the great resource. I plan to buy his book.

Mary said...

Hi and thanks for all the great sites you find. I always enjoy seeing these. This one was interesting, but no I don't agree about the double space. Magazines and newspapers might use one space (and lawyers, too) because there is so much text and space = money.

However, in normal writing the double space after a full stop gives you time. It intentionally breaks up the writing to allow you to go from one concept to another. It is not just a device to allow a manual typewriter to assign the correct proportion of distance.

When we write a letter (remember those good old days with a pen and paper?) we would give just a little bit of extra space between two sentences as opposed to the space after a comma. So nice article, but no - I will continue to give full stops, question marks & asterisks their full due!

Footnote: I have just previewed this and Blogger has converted all my double spaces into single spaces! It's a conspiracy!!

Kit Lang said...

I was shocked after reading his site and your commenters do discover I'm antiqated. Antiqated!

I feel quite young for someone who is a relic of an older (gentler?) time...

:)

linwood avenue said...

yes, yes, yes about the double spaces after a period. i'm a graphic designer and i get files from clients like that. i have to suppress a scream every time :)

CC said...

It's hard for us form letter writers to stop using two spaces after a period. It's just in our blood.

Kenzie LaRae said...

I graduated college a mere 6 years ago, and they forced us to double space after periods. Then, I got into the real world (as an editor) and I was able to quit that ridiculous space-space in haste. You can do it too!

Gina said...

Like most things legal, it gave me a chuckle. (VBG)

Natalie said...

Very helpful. I was also taught two spaces after a period and had to convert to one space a couple of years ago... it IS possible.

For those who are interested, here's a solution for converting a document with two spaces after a period to only one:

In Word, hold down "Ctrl" and then hit the "F" key. Choose "Replace." Select the top box and press the space bar twice. Select the bottom box and press the space bar once. then hit "Replace All." That's it! Now those who are annoyed with converting other's documents can rest easy, and if you insist on typing two spaces you can convert your document before sending.

kjansma said...

I just checked the New Yorker and they only use one space after a period. So that settles it for me. I will try to use one space rather than two. It will obviously take some practice as I just now hit two. I've also noticed a big decrease in the number of commas used in the last twenty years. Is it just me or could that be possible?

The Social Secretary said...

My boss told me I could leave early just when I came across this post. Now it's been a half an hour and I can't stop reading. I agree with Dree, there should be a Typography for Everyone!
Thanks for sharing,
KH

Gina said...

I'm going to cry with joy! During the day I work as a graphic designer / Art Director for a CD manufacturing coming. We do work for mostly independent musicians (those without a big record label). Most clients are absolutely clueless about typography and we sometimes have to do very immoral and unethical things with type!! ;) If only we could teach everyone in every line of work the importance of typography and how all caps in a script font will never look good! A dream I never dared to dream until now...

Alfred T. Mahan said...

Jess,

I commend this man to the tender mercies of Shakespeare's Dick the Butcher. Fie on him and his newfangled geegaws!

Bee said...

I was unaware of this "single spacing rule", as I was always taught to double space. I'm now making a conscious effort to only leave one space though. It will take some effort, but I realize how much nicer things look that way. Also, I went to change all my blog posts only to happily discover that Blogger had been correcting my double-space error all along. Awesome!

kimaloo said...

I feel ashamed. I never knew about this whole single-space versus a double-space after a period debate. I have always double-spaced at the end of sentences because that's how we were taught to type in school 20 years ago. I wonder how many people I've offended over the years with my big spaces! lol

Lisa said...

I think I'm now a better person.
And, I was asked to re-format a curriculum (for adults) using solely comic sans. (!) It was painful. I'm sorry, adults subjected to my work...It wasn't my choice.

suzanne b. said...

I am enjoying the comments on this post so much! :) I was going to write my own comment, but I see Susie C. has written what I would say, so my comment is, "What Susie C. said!" :)

Anna said...

dang, your mom called me out, I'm a two spacer. :(

Shadygrove said...

About 15 years ago when I was in grad school I bought a wonderful little book called The Mac is Not a Typewriter. That's how I learned about the one space rule and that's what I've used ever since. Now, in my case, I never really learned to type "properly" so I wasn't in the two space habit. I graduated from high school in the early 70s and i didn't want to be a secretary so I deliberately didn't take typing (lol, who knew).

lindsey said...

OMG! A girl at my office used to make customer forms with Curlz! Then she would make the text in the body of the document Papyrus. I wanted to STRANGLE her! I can't believe she would actually show documents like that to customers. It makes us look like kids work here. When she was let go, one of the first things I did was re-create as many documents as I could without curlz or papyrus and only one font per document!

Jason said...

Just to let you know, Butterick has written and designed a wonderful book based on the website, and goes into terrific detail on a number of areas he previously just touched on. The book is now available for preorder and is due sometime this November: http://bit.ly/cyGDep

Eric @ flavorspaces said...

Thanks for the great site!

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