Typewriter habits

I’ve claimed through­out this book that many bad ty­pog­ra­phy habits have been im­posed upon us by the type­writer. Here, I’ve col­lected them in one list.

  1. Straight quotes rather than curly quotes (see straight and curly quotes).

  2. Two spaces rather than one space be­tween sen­tences.

  3. Mul­ti­ple hy­phens in­stead of dashes (see hy­phens and dashes).

  4. Al­pha­betic ap­prox­i­ma­tions of trade­mark and copy­right sym­bols.

  5. el­lipses made with three pe­ri­ods rather than an el­lip­sis character.

  6. Non-curly apos­tro­phes.

  7. Pre­tend­ing that ac­cented char­ac­ters don’t exist.

  8. Us­ing mul­ti­ple word spaces in a row (for in­stance, to make a first-line in­dent.)

  9. Us­ing tabs and tab stops in­stead of ta­bles.

  10. Us­ing car­riage re­turns to in­sert ver­ti­cal space.

  11. Us­ing al­pha­bet char­ac­ters as sub­sti­tutes for real math sym­bols.

  12. Mak­ing rules and bor­ders out of re­peated characters.

  13. Ig­nor­ing lig­a­tures.

  14. Un­der­lin­ing anything.

  15. Be­liev­ing that mono­spaced fonts are nice to read.

  16. Abus­ing all caps.

  17. Think­ing that the best point size for body text is 12.

  18. Ig­nor­ing kern­ing.

  19. Ig­nor­ing let­terspac­ing.

  20. Too much cen­tered text.

  21. Only us­ing sin­gle or dou­ble line spac­ing.

  22. Only us­ing the line length per­mit­ted by one-inch page mar­gins.

by the way
  • I’m far from the first per­son to ob­serve that many bad ty­po­graphic habits have been passed down from type­writ­ers. A best­selling ti­tle of the early Mac era was Robin Williams’s book The Mac is Not a Type­writer, which spawned a se­quel, The PC is Not a Type­writer. Hope­fully it goes with­out say­ing that The Web is Not a Type­writer, Ei­ther. (Though maybe not—see web­sites.)