If you learned how to type on a typewriter or were taught to type by someone who did, you are probably making a few typographical faux pas when composing text on your computer.

Single Spacing
The most common error is double-spacing at the end of a sentence. Only one is necessary, let me explain why.

The double-space rule was applied to typewriters is because all typewriters use monotype fonts. Each letter in a monotype font is designed to have the same character width, in other words, a m will use the same amount of horizontal space as an i or l. There are several monotype fonts designed for the computer, Courier is probably the most well known.

Most fonts used on computers are variable width fonts or proportionally spaced fonts and employ “kerning”. When letters are kerned, the letter spacing is adjusted to take up space relative to their actual width, so that the width between letters and letter pairs create consistent spacing.

So, there is no need for double-spacing at the end of a sentence when typing on a PC as variable width fonts automatically create the correct amount of space between sentences. In fact, double-spacing will create visual holes in a block of text that looks amateurish. If you’ll be sending your work to a graphic designer or publishing house, someone will have to replace all your double spaces with single spaces . . . a tedious job, even with “search and replace”.

The double-spacing habit may take some time to break; but the final outcome will be more professional looking documents.

Smart Quotes and Straight Quotes
Another common mistake is using either smart quotes ( ‘ ’ “ ” ) or straight quotes ( " ' ) inappropriately. Smart quotes (also known as curly quotes) are used for dialog and apostrophes while straight quotes are used for feet and minutes, and for inches and seconds.

Microsoft Word uses straight quotes as its default; but this feature can easily be turned on or off.
• From the Tools menus, select AutoCorrect
• Click on the AutoFormat as You Type tab
• Under Replace as You Type, check or uncheck “Straight Quotes” with “Smart Quotes”

If you've already typed your document with incorrect quote marks, Word can replace the quotes for you.
• Follow the steps above
• Use the Ctrl + H shortcut key to open the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box
• Enter " in both the Find what and Replace with boxes
• Click Replace All

To manually change your quotes, hold down the ALT key and type the numbers on the numeric keypad.
• ALT 0145 and ALT 0146 for the left and right single quotes
• ALT 0147 and ALT 0148 for the left and right double curly quotes.

When using the ALT keystrokes in Windows, use the numeric keypad to the right side of your keyboard, not the row of numbers above the alphabet and make sure Num Lock is turned ON.

Hyphens and Dashes
A typewriter had only one dash choice, while computers offer 3 dash widths. Another mark of professionally set type is the proper use of hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. Each is a different size and has its own proper usage. The width of en and em dashes is usually equal to the width of the lowercase n and m for the typeface in which they are used.

Hyphens - are used for hyphenating words and to separate characters in a phone number.

En dashes – are used for showing duration or range as in 11:00 – 3:00 or January
11th – 15th. Create en dashes with ALT 0150

Em dashes — are the proper dashes to use instead of single or double hyphens — as punctuation. The em dash is also used to separate clauses in a sentence. Microsoft Word will automatically replace double hyphens with an em dash. Create em dashes with ALT 0151.

Emphasis Text
With the typewriter, underlining text was the only way to emphasize text in a document. With the advent of desktop publishing we can now emphasize text using, bold, italic and bold italic.

Bold Text is best used in whole lines of text such as in headings and captions or at the start of a paragraph as a design style. Bold Text shouldn't be used to highlight words within a block of text, as it is very distracting to the eye. Italics should be used for emphasis instead, as italic text is more harmonious with surrounding text, yet clearly indicates additional importance.

Uderlined Text is a hold over from the typewriter days should be avoided altogether as there are more pleasing methods to emphasize words using bold and italic. Underlined text should be reserved for use in website design and in financial or academic publications.
• Ctrl-b for bold
• Ctrl-i for italics
• Ctrl-u for underline

By using the tips above, your documents will look professional rather than amateurish. Some of these habits will take awhile to get used to; but keep trying; the results will be worth it!

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