[Doc-SIG] Idea: make double-space between sentences meaningful

David Goodger goodger at python.org
Mon May 24 17:10:49 EDT 2004

[Forwarding to the list with permission]

 >> From: Beni Cherniavsky [mailto:cben at users.sf.net]
 >> Some formats (notably LaTeX) support the typographical
 >> convention (of some languages, e.g. English but not French
 >> IIRC) of putting a bigger space after the end of a sentence
 >> than between words.  LaTeX tries to guess intellegently but
 >> can fail.  Its guessing can be explicitly overriden.
 >> Currently, reST provides no way to convey this information to
 >> the output format.  Producing high-quality output requires
 >> this information.  There already exists an obvious convention
 >> supported by programs (e.g. Emacs)
 >> for representing it in plain text: just use a double space
 >> after the end of a sentence.  I propose to make this official
 >> for reStructuredText: more than one space between words after
 >> punctuation  signifies a sentence end.
 >> Backward compatiblity: at worse, it will force all sentence
 >> ends to single spaces in existing documents that don't use
 >> the double-space convention in the reST source.  It's a good
 >> bet that anybody who cares about it in his LaTeX output also
 >> cares about his source, but it's a good idea to make this a
 >> parser option (defaulting off?)...

The one-space-vs-two-spaces-after-a-sentence debate can be as
religious as any other (as demonstrated by a recent,
embarrassingly-long thread on TECHWR-L). I personally am in the camp
that says that two spaces is OK in monospaced text, but unnecessary
and ugly in a proportional typeface. Thus, I would want two
(end-of-sentence) spaces in source text to result in one space in
proportionally-laid-out output.

It's fine for the parser to convey this information to the writer,
which can then choose whether to use it or ignore it. I would want to
configure most writers to ignore it.

Janet Swisher
Senior Technical Writer
Enthought, Inc.

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