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Author Topic: Em-spacing or en-spacing?  (Read 1214 times)

Near Lurker

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Em-spacing or en-spacing?
« on: 25 Oct 2018, 05:25 »

So I've noticed that this board is one of the I think still slight majority that does not enforce en-spacing, with a number of the mods holding tightly to em-spacing.  I have been told that en-spacing has been the standard "since WWII," but I swear I never heard this prior to 2008, before which it was unambiguously a technical necessity, alien to formal writing, the technical aspect of which we've long since gotten over, ironically just as the gaslight campaign began as far as I can tell.  Grammar Girl is among those enlisted to convince me that it goes back before then, but I refuse to believe her.

Also, no one who says "on accident" or uses "gift" as a verb will ever be old enough to enter a bar.  Even if they happen to have been born in the 1920s.
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Cornelius

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Re: Em-spacing or en-spacing?
« Reply #1 on: 25 Oct 2018, 05:35 »

I'd say that is mostly a stylistic choice, really. As far as I can tell, the lenght of the space was only really standardised in the sense that typewriters only accomodated the one space bar - and if that's an en-space, it's just because if you put two, you should have an em-space, so it makes sense to choose the en.

Not sure what grammar should have to do with it, though. If anything, it's something you could find in a style guide, but those generally have little to do with grammar, but everything with maintaining a uniform style.
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Re: Em-spacing or en-spacing?
« Reply #2 on: 25 Oct 2018, 06:55 »

I'm not clear what you are saying.  Surely the width of a space is simply defined by its glyph in the font in use?  Also, a related point is that double spacing after a full stop (as I do) is generally not modern style.
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Cornelius

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Re: Em-spacing or en-spacing?
« Reply #3 on: 25 Oct 2018, 07:35 »

Apparently, there are some different whitespace characters, with different widths; Wikipedia has a list; including en- and em-spaces.

But yes, in a proportional font, it would depend on the width they define there, which is not necessarily an en or em, though it will probably be closer to en than em for most. Unispace fonts will only have the em-space by definition.

Perhaps it can make a difference in code?
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Re: Em-spacing or en-spacing?
« Reply #4 on: 25 Oct 2018, 11:09 »

Well, if you're going for Unicode strangeness, I was fooled recently by there being an alternative form of comma, or maybe it was a comma+space combo, I forget; also a spacing character of zero width.  There's also a single character something like No (meaning number).  I've had these in file names which the program that was to read them wouldn't accept.
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Pilchard123

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Re: Em-spacing or en-spacing?
« Reply #5 on: 25 Oct 2018, 14:54 »

Something you might not have known about space characters and Unicode:

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