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Adding spaces for clarity?

Zen Master

(I've looked, I've searched, but not read all of the thousands of posts with 'spaces' in them, didn't see anything on this subject)
Is there any way to allow traditional paragraph formatting?

I find text to be easier to read when paragraphs are indented. This is most easily done by a 'tab' or by several spaces.
I find paragraphs easier to read when there is a larger space between sentences than there is between words. This is most easily done by having two spaces between sentences.
If a paragraph is indented, there is no need for an empty line between paragraphs. Then, the author can use an occasional empty line to separate groups of paragraphs, reserving horizontal lines for major groupings like a scene shift.

Every story, email, blog post, and reply I have ever submitted -including this one- has all of the above just so that I can more easily read what I've written. SOL, however, strips out every extra leading space, and then (for stories) adds a blank line between every paragraph. How can I avoid that and retain text formatting?

-ZM

Keet

@Zen Master

If a paragraph is indented, there is no need for an empty line between paragraphs.

I find that indentions look ugly. For me the best readable look is to not put an empty line between paragraphs but to stylize your p tags with a bottom padding about half the height of a line. A full line height is too much, but no space between makes the text look like one massive block of characters, indentions or not.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Zen Master

How can I avoid that and retain text formatting?


You can't.

Your preferences are your preferences, they're not a universal.

It's a common style thing to either indent paragraphs OR space them out. Personally, I prefer spacing them out, so that's the style choice used on the site.

Double space between sentences is a relic of the typewriter era. Computer fonts have something called Kerning and periods have extra space after them to create that clearer separation of sentences. I find excessive spacing after a period ugly, so I don't allow extra blank spaces between sentences.

Ask around and you'll find that less than a quarter of the people prefer the indentation, and less than a quarter prefer the paragraph spacing. The majority don't care one way or the other.

Depending on which browser you use, you might be able to override the site's style with what you prefer. I use safari and I use a custom stylesheet for many sites that have ugly or hard to read formatting.

Replies:   Keet  Zen Master
Ernest Bywater

SoL present the stories in a html format, and two of the basic rules of html format are to eliminate excess white space and to place a space between paragraphs. Thus there is no indentation possible with standard html and there will always be a space between the paragraphs.

I write using a word processor and have indented paragraphs etc. which show up in the e-pub I create (this is not the one you get from SoL), but the html file doesn't have them, so you'll just have to live with the html limitations.

There is a lot of html code SoL doesn't use or run because it saves on the processing etc, and also because it reduces possible browser conflicts. Browser conflicts aren't as bad today as they used to be, but why change what works.

I just checked and the downloaded epubs I got from SoL have the formatting you want, so get the stories that way.

Keet

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I use safari and I use a custom stylesheet for many sites that have ugly or hard to read formatting.

You use a custom stylesheet for sites on the www you view in your browser? How? That could solve a lot of my problems I have with some sites.

Zen Master

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

You can't.


Thanks for the straight _and_ quick answer. This started out as your personal site, and if we have to deal with some of your personal quirks it's still a very good site. I appreciate everything you've done here.

-ZM

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Keet

In Safari's preferences, go to the Advanced tab. You can select a custom stylesheet and it will apply to all sites. It's tricky, but it works wonders for sites that have stylesheets with ids and unique class names.

Here is an article that talk about it:

http://theoveranalyzed.net/2018/3/16/safaris-custom-style-sheet

Replies:   Keet
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Zen Master

This started out as your personal site, and if we have to deal with some of your personal quirks it's still a very good site


Personal quirks?

I'm a print graphic designer by trade and I use widely adopted design practices.

Look up the indent vs space paragraphs thing on the internet and you'll find extensive discussions.

You know we could do without the passive aggressive stuff.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Keet

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

In Safari's preferences, go to the Advanced tab. You can select a custom stylesheet and it will apply to all sites. It's tricky, but it works wonders for sites that have stylesheets with ids and unique class names.

Thank you!
But I'm on Linux with Firefox so that won't work. However, now I know that it's possible, I did some searching and the same can be done in FireFox. I've got some studying to do.

Switch Blayde

@Zen Master

Standard business letters and reports (on paper) do not indent and have a blank line between paragraphs.
So does email.
And so do websites.
And articles on the web, like on Yahoo and MSN.

For my ebooks, which I indent paragraphs, I don't have a blank line between paragraphs but add a little white space between paragraphs (6pt).

Two spaces after a period? Haven't done that in years.

Replies:   tendertouch
tendertouch
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Interesting bit about two spaces between sentences. I've seen a couple of references recently to a study that showed that those additional spaces aid comprehension. Certainly when writing code additional white space can make things clearer, though it doesn't always.

Yep, additional spaces are ugly but maybe they aren't completely useless. I still do them all of the time but that's largely training.

Replies:   PrincelyGuy
PrincelyGuy

@tendertouch

Certainly when writing code additional white space can make things clearer,


When I used to write code, I would indent the if statement paragraphs so that I could more easily verify that I was working in the correct section of the program. Some individuals did not indent anything and I hated trying to debug their code when they were on leave or working on another high priority project.

Yes, my code took a lot more screen space, but the compiler did not care so why not make it easier to read.

Switch Blayde

@PrincelyGuy

When I used to write code, I would indent the if statement paragraphs


I thought every programmer did that.

Keet
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I thought every programmer did that.

I'm sure they do because most development environments do this automatically whether you want or not. (Unless you change the preferences to not do it).

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I thought every programmer did that.


Way back in the days of programming dinosaurs they didn't. By the mid 1990s it was a standard practice being taught to people when programming because it made it easy to tell which opening code went with what closing code. However, there's still some people who take shortcuts that don't go to that troubles.

PrincelyGuy

@Switch Blayde

I thought every programmer did that.


Not all, at least not where I worked. It was suggested in some of the training, but not all worked that way.

As for the software automatically indenting, that is probably true for those developed in the last 10 years. Most of my coding was in the 80s and early 90s. The editors we were using it was either manually tab or copy and paste the prior line. Good old Control-c and Control-v. Been so long, I cannot remember the vi commands on the UNIX boxes. Think it was cc to copy the line and dd to delete. That was 35-40 years ago.

Replies:   Switch Blayde  Keet
Switch Blayde

@PrincelyGuy

Most of my coding was in the 80s and early 90s.


I started in 1971. I was mostly an Assembler programmer, but when I coded in COBOL I indented the "IF" statements. That's how I was taught and it made sense (especially when you had nested "IF"s). Of course back then it was on coding sheets that the gals typed up punched cards from.

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@PrincelyGuy

As for the software automatically indenting, that is probably true for those developed in the last 10 years. Most of my coding was in the 80s and early 90s. The editors we were using it was either manually tab or copy and paste the prior line. Good old Control-c and Control-v. Been so long, I cannot remember the vi commands on the UNIX boxes. Think it was cc to copy the line and dd to delete. That was 35-40 years ago.

End of the 80's, begin 90's most of the big companies had very strict rules for formatting. Problem was that each company had their own rules, sometimes very different. When I started end of the 80's with Cobol on VAX and IBM the editors were pretty good for that time.

Keet

@Switch Blayde

Of course back then it was on coding sheets that the gals typed up punched cards from.

Oh man, punching cards. I have seen some disasters happening with those.
I started a little later than you did but at that time indentation was pretty common among most companies. I did a lot of different languages and I still hate it that I never had the chance to learn assembler. Today it's mostly C# but only on Linux.

PrincelyGuy

@Keet

And with punched cards, there is nothing so fun as dropping a box of them and then finding out that the program was made up of bits and pieces of other COBOL programs and the number sequence was not in sequence. Been there. Did not get a ribbon. Luckily it was only a couple of hundred cards. Boss mentioned that he once dropped a set of boxes. He always used a cart after that.

REP

@PrincelyGuy

Some individuals did not indent anything


That makes nested IF statements a real pain to work with

Replies:   PrincelyGuy
PrincelyGuy

@REP

That makes nested IF statements a real pain to work with


Mostly, I would spend an hour or three adding my own indents if it was not a bunch of punch cards. It was slow and tedious, but so much easier to work with.

There were a lot of things I loved about that job, but when they went to Visual Basic and C++, I knew it was time to move on. Luckily a sysadmin job was open and moved into that. Oh well. Those are long ago days.

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I'm a print graphic designer by trade and I use widely adopted design practices.

Look up the indent vs space paragraphs thing on the internet and you'll find extensive discussions.

You know we could do without the passive aggressive stuff.

Yeah, it's one thing to say "It's my site, and I'll do whatever I wanna do", but it's another entirely to say that the subject has never been solved, and that most people simply don't care. For those of us in the industry, that's clearly not the case.

There is the correct way to do it, and then there are those who continue typing two spaces after every period, not because it's necessary or aids in the display, but just because that's what they've 'always done'.

Saying 'it's still unresolved' is akin to saying 'Global Warning still hasn't been settled by scientists' because One guy is still collecting money from Political Action committees to say he doesn't agree with 98% of the scientific community.

The community in both instances has 'spoken' a long time ago, but that doesn't prevent people from holding onto outdated notions long after they're no longer relevant. (No offense, Lazeez, but on this issue, you've got your head in the sand.)

Replies:   tendertouch
Crumbly Writer

@PrincelyGuy

When I used to write code, I would indent the if statement paragraphs so that I could more easily verify that I was working in the correct section of the program. Some individuals did not indent anything and I hated trying to debug their code when they were on leave or working on another high priority project.

My html editor does that too. They indent every line AFTER an initial < p> command. I myself indent each Indented paragraph (the "Indented" style, not the normally indented paragraphs), but indenting each individual line is meaningless and doesn't make anything easier to understand since it's done on every single damn line!

Crumbly Writer

@Keet

I did a lot of different languages and I still hate it that I never had the chance to learn assembler.

I did, and believe me, you didn't miss much. While assembler code was faster, it was only useful for getting a computer to perform commands unique to that computer. For every other function, it really didn't buy you anything.

Once C# started allowing you to issue system commands, most assembler programs faded away as irrelevant.

tendertouch

@Switch Blayde


@PrincelyGuy
When I used to write code, I would indent the if statement paragraphs

I thought every programmer did that.


You'd think so but I've worked with a bunch of guys who came up writing Fortran on cards, where every space was precious (or so they told me - my experience with Fortran was using a line editor) so there were no spaces beyond the minimum. I'm not even just thinking of indents, but spaces around punctuation and keywords. Personally I'd rather see:
for (index = 0; index < limit; index++)
than
for(i=0;i

Replies:   Keet
tendertouch

@Crumbly Writer

There is the correct way to do it, and then there are those who continue typing two spaces after every period, not because it's necessary or aids in the display, but just because that's what they've 'always done'.


And as I said, saying that the whole 'one space' versus 'two spaces' thing is resolved is suspect considering some recent research. Sure I do it because that's the way I was taught lo those many years ago but I still feel it has merit when I look at text done both ways. I can read it with only one but two makes it clearer (if more ugly.)

richardshagrin

@tendertouch

And as I said, saying that the whole 'one space' versus 'two spaces' thing is resolved is suspect considering some recent research.


A newer, different space program.

Keet

@tendertouch

You'd think so but I've worked with a bunch of guys who came up writing Fortran on cards, where every space was precious (or so they told me - my experience with Fortran was using a line editor) so there were no spaces beyond the minimum. I'm not even just thinking of indents, but spaces around punctuation and keywords. Personally I'd rather see:
for (index = 0; index < limit; index++)
than
for(i=0;i

The spaces in the for statements are more a personal preference and have less to do readability then the indentations. It's so long ago but I remember there were languages that took indentations, spaces and white lines as part of the code structure having a specific meaning to the compiler.

Replies:   tendertouch
tendertouch

@Keet

Well, part of my code snippet went away so it doesn't look as bad as intended. To a degree leaving spaces around disparate lexical elements is a personal preference but part of the reason many corporate style guides are going that way is that it does make the code easier to understand at a glance - part of the parsing has already been done for us. My guess is that they're seeing much the same thing with multiple spaces after a period - part of the parsing (into sentence units) has been done for us.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@tendertouch

And as I said, saying that the whole 'one space' versus 'two spaces' thing is resolved is suspect considering some recent research. Sure I do it because that's the way I was taught lo those many years ago but I still feel it has merit when I look at text done both ways. I can read it with only one but two makes it clearer (if more ugly.)

If that's the case, I suggest you switch your browser fonts, as they're obviously badly designed if they'll that difficult to make out.

The kerning varies greatly between fonts, and some font designers are more knowledgeable than others, while other times, they'll pack everything together to save space for lengthy text (like most Adobe fonts).

I examine different fonts continually, since I'm always looking for new fonts for book covers, which I frequently have to individually kern (spacing out each individual letter when the designers fuck it up), so I'm familiar with the kinds of problems that you're referring to. But, there are a shitload of available fonts out there, and even with most mobile phones, you can usually add your own fonts (assuming you're willing to jailbreak your precious devices when they're entirely proprietary).

Replies:   tendertouch  zebra69347
Crumbly Writer

@tendertouch

Well, part of my code snippet went away so it doesn't look as bad as intended. To a degree leaving spaces around disparate lexical elements is a personal preference but part of the reason many corporate style guides are going that way is that it does make the code easier to understand at a glance - part of the parsing has already been done for us. My guess is that they're seeing much the same thing with multiple spaces after a period - part of the parsing (into sentence units) has been done for us.

That's because you included a left angle bracket in your text, which SOL interprets as an html command. The solution to that, if you're up on such things, is to hardcode the ASCII equivilent of the character ("&lt;").

Replies:   tendertouch
tendertouch

@Crumbly Writer

No, they're not badly designed that I can tell. It doesn't matter what font as far as I can tell either - it's just a little bit easier to pick out the end of the sentence when skimming through with two spaces instead of one.

My point was that the contention that the difference is 'resolved' is wrong because some of the most recent scholarship in the area has said that two spaces are better, while some of the other has said that it doesn't matter. Never heard of anyone who was worried about reading comprehension rather than looks saying that one space was better but maybe there's someone out there.

tendertouch

@Crumbly Writer

I knew it was something like that but didn't care enough about the specifics to research it. Interesting that it gobbled it there but not in the clause with the less than symbol solo. Whitespace wins again :)

richardshagrin

And then there are Elle fonts.

zebra69347

@Crumbly Writer

There are two factors that determine how a font looks when it is used. The first obviously is the character design. Then the spacing between characters is set in a kerning table between character pairs. For example the space between "M" and "W" might appear to have them overlapping, it all depends on the shape. "W" and "o" have different spacing.

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@zebra69347

There are two factors that determine how a font looks when it is used. The first obviously is the character design. Then the spacing between characters is set in a kerning table between character pairs. For example the space between "M" and "W" might appear to have them overlapping, it all depends on the shape. "W" and "o" have different spacing.

There's a third: serif or sans-serif. I find the sans-serif better readable.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Keet

There's a third: serif or sans-serif. I find the sans-serif better readable.

The common thinking is that sans-serif is better for titles, since it's plainer, easier to read and more distinctive. But, for the body of the text, if you've ever studied speed reading, a central tenant is 'guessing' the content based on the shape of the letters. Thus the serif characters help you quickly identify words at a glance, even the meaning of entire phrases without having to physically 'read' each word.

You'll find, at least in most studies I ... studies (all more than a couple decades ago), that serif fonts boost reading speeds significantly, but ... if you're having the normal vision problems associated with advanced age or health problems, the extra ornamentation is likely more a hindrance than an aid. :(

Keet

@Crumbly Writer

the normal vision problems associated with advanced age or health problems, the extra ornamentation is likely more a hindrance than an aid. :(

Yep, that's the problem. With only one eye some perspective is gone too what might have something to do with sans-serifs being better readable for me.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Keet


Yep, that's the problem. With only one eye some perspective is gone too what might have something to do with sans-serifs being better readable for me.


I like and use Palatino Linotype as my font on everything because it has clear characters with plenty of white space around it, so it's very easy to read.

the usual typo edit.

Replies:   Keet  Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

serif fonts boost reading speeds significantly


There are few studies and their results are inconclusive, at least one contradicting your claim: "comprehension times for individual words are slightly faster when written in a sans serif font versus a serif font".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serif

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Keet

@Ernest Bywater

Palatino Linotype

I looked it up and if not for the serifs it would be a very good font. Most serif fonts seem to link together for me. Increasing the kernel doesn't help.

Ernest Bywater

@Keet

I looked it up and if not for the serifs it would be a very good font.


I first came across Palatino Linotype (PL) while researching for an easy to read font to use in the print book versions of my stories. I liked PL, and I also found out PL was developed for easier to read print books. Then I tried it on my computer as my system font and found it just as easy to read there. That's why I now use it on everything I can, because it means I'm using the same font everywhere.

All of my stories are written in Libre Office using PL then produced as a Print Ready PDF file using PL, an e-pub with PL, and a html file in which I don't specify a font so the reader can use their preferred system font. I see only PL as that's my system font.

I find a lot of the more commonly used computer fonts to be too squashed together for me, and some seem to link the characters together i9n a way to make them harder to read. I suspect some have been made extra fancy just to look fancy and that makes them less practicable. That's OK if that's what you want, but I prefer easy to read.

Crumbly Writer

@Keet

Yep, that's the problem. With only one eye some perspective is gone too what might have something to do with sans-serifs being better readable for me.

And once again, there's an easy solution to that. The vast majority or browsers today allow you to pick your default font, or even to switch it for a particular page.

If you're reading a dead-tree book, then you'll need to fork over a few extra bucks and purchase a 'Large Print' edition (which, if the publisher has half a brain in their head, will be All sans-serif (though there's no guaranteeing that, because many publishers don't)! 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I like and use Palatino Linotype as my font on everything because it has clear characters with plenty of white space around it, so it's very easy to read.

I agree. I've always preferred Palantio, which despite being sans-serif, is easier to read than most. I also like Garmond, however that font is MUCH smaller than any other font for each font size (i.e. a 12pt Garmond will look like a 10pt Palantio text). So pick you're poison. In the end, both websites and ebooks allow you to customize your font (though most ebook readers, like Amazon) limit the number of fonts you can choose. :(

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

There are few studies and their results are inconclusive, at least one contradicting your claim: "comprehension times for individual words are slightly faster when written in a sans serif font versus a serif font".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serif

That's true, but you've got to keep in mind that few schools teach Speed Reading anymore. So the 'inconclusive' results have less to do with the situation being untrue, and more to do with the few people who are capable of speed reading today.

It's akin to doing a study on whether the GLM (Graduate Length Method) of teaching skiing is effective or not. Since there are NO ski schools which teach it anyone more, only the old time skiers like me who learned it back in the 70 still use the technique, and I'm no longer spry enough to get on my skis anymore. It's not that the technique is a failure, it's just that it's been abandoned for marketing reasons (i.e. if you teach everyone to be an excellent skier in only a couple of years, then NO ONE will ever take a lesson again, and every single ski resort will have to dramatically increase their number of double-black diamond slopes!).

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Keet

I looked it up and if not for the serifs it would be a very good font. Most serif fonts seem to link together for me. Increasing the kernel doesn't help.

Palantino is a 'compromise' font. It allows you to continue to use serif fonts, if you're still able to speed read, but it makes it easier to manage with older eyes. However, if you're beyond that point, or if you never learned speed-reading, then it's a NO benefit to you at all!

Both of the fonts which I mentioned fit into this category. I'll have to research the font choices which Amazon allows, because I can't even remember which are non-serif and which are serif fonts!

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I first came across Palatino Linotype (PL) while researching for an easy to read font to use in the print book versions of my stories. I liked PL, and I also found out PL was developed for easier to read print books. Then I tried it on my computer as my system font and found it just as easy to read there. That's why I now use it on everything I can, because it means I'm using the same font everywhere.

Again, I've always preferred Palantino Linotype for that reason, but when I started publishing ebooks on a steady basis, I discover that it's NOT available for either ebooks or most browsers, as it's only used in print books. At that point I switched over to Garmond full time, as it's the most accessible font found on ALL ebooks.

Sadly, i also use the same font in ALL of my books, so I can simply copy text from one to every one of my books, but that means I've ended up producing non-easy to read print books. I now need to go back, change the font in every single print book I've ever created (I never updated the older Catalyst and Great Death books) and reset the default fonts so all of my future books will use the CORRECT fonts!

Geez! It's hard to keep up with all this shit! You try to do the right thing, but don't always think it all the way through. Instead, I've switched from 10pt PL to 12pt Garmond to compensate. Again, it's a decent compromise, but only because the price of PL books made my longer stories too damn expensive to produce using the PL font. (groan!)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

All of my stories are written in Libre Office using PL then produced as a Print Ready PDF file using PL, an e-pub with PL, and a html file in which I don't specify a font so the reader can use their preferred system font. I see only PL as that's my system font.

Again, since ebooks DON'T support PL, what ends up happening is they 'substitute' another font every time you use PL in your e-pubs. You'll have to research your options, but like with me, always using a single font is a proverbial recipe for disaster, as it means many of your users can't read your books, despite how much they'd LIKE to support you.

I think we authors need to get together and discuss these details, so we're ALL aware of the complications, but there aren't enough of us self-published authors on SOL to warrant much interest. :( (And that's my excuse for why I never caught my colossal mistake before! I knew all the necessary facts, I just never put the together in the right combinations!) :(

By the way, these overly detailed posts of mine are a Prime example why you should NEVER marry an Economist!!!!! They'll rant for days over details which put everyone else to sleep, and nothing ever changes!

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

if you're having the normal vision problems associated with advanced age or health problems, the extra ornamentation is likely more a hindrance than an aid. :(


I am extremely near sighted, somewhere beyond 20/400 (that's as far as my optomatrist's chart goes), and not particularly as a result of age or other health issues. Fortunately my vision is correctable with glasses, otherwise I would be legally blind.

Personally I prefer serif to sans-serif fonts.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

So the 'inconclusive' results have less to do with the situation being untrue, and more to do with the few people who are capable of speed reading today.


No, the results seem to have always been inconclusive, right back to when serif was the style of choice as befitting transcribing the word of God etc.

My school didn't teach speed reading, but at university we had the basics of the skimming method explained (not to be confused with the 'skimming' that readers do when they're immersed in a story) and were advised of courses we could go on if we felt it necessary.

This link casts nastertiums on the amount of comprehension when speed reading: https://lifehacker.com/the-truth-about-speed-reading-1542508398

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Again, I've always preferred Palantino Linotype for that reason, but when I started publishing ebooks on a steady basis, I discover that it's NOT available for either ebooks or most browsers, as it's only used in print books. At that point I switched over to Garmond full time, as it's the most accessible font found on ALL ebooks.


I'm not so sure about it being the most accessible. I have the option of embedding the font or leaving it open for the reader's default font to be used, and I've done both options in the past because I'm not sure which is the best for the reader.

My system doesn't have a Garamond font on it, so I've spent a half hour digging around and finding an open source version called EB Garamond to download and try it. I found it not to be as clean as Palatino Linotype while it takes up more space, thus will add pages to the book length.

I suspect I'll stay with my choice and you'll stay with you choice, and we'll both be happy. Which shows people like different things.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

This link casts nastertiums on the amount of comprehension when speed reading: https://lifehacker.com/the-truth-about-speed-reading-1542508398

I'll agree, those speed reading apps seem to be entirely fantasy, with little basis in the actual principals involving speed reading. But the basic premise of speed reading is that most readers read with a 98% comprehension rate, which means you're remembers mostly unimportant details. If you speed up, you'll drop the trivial details while keeping the essentials (like character names, plot points, character interactions, etc.).

I still see no problem with that. When I was taught speed reading way back in high school, I had quite a fight with the instructor, because she promised that she could speed our reading up threefold. However, I was already reading at 1,200 wpm, so it's hard to triple that (though, to be honest, I was resisting her 'I can manipulate the numbers' approach so much, I mostly dug in my heels rather than run with it. Even so, I sped up to about 1,700 (as best I can recall, as it was a LONG time ago!).

But the essence of the entire process is that most words consist of 'spacers' like "of", "a", "the", etc. There's really no good reason to spend time considering those words. You can figure out what they mean with a simple glance, rather than actually reading each individual word, one at a time. Thus you scan the entire sentence, get a jist of what's involved, and then target the important elements (the longer, more complex words or specific names you need to keep track of who's saying what).

Those elements are mostly common sense. Even if you drop those words ("a", "the", "of") you can mostly fill them in yourself without slowing down much (which is way they're called 'spacers', because they simply space out the sentence, rather than adding real value. They're necessary to form complete sentences, but they're not necessary for reading comprehension.

In general, you can drop to 80% comprehension without losing much when reading stories, though most speed readers don't drop anywhere near that far.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

My system doesn't have a Garamond font on it, so I've spent a half hour digging around and finding an open source version called EB Garamond to download and try it.

I switched to the "Garamond" font (which is included in the basic Windows and Mac font sets) when I was first investigating publishing ebooks. It's one of the five fonts that ALL epubs support. If EB Garmond is LARGER than your PL font, then there's something seriously wrong, since the basic Garamond is much smaller!

I mostly use it so I'll have a better idea for what readers will see when reading my stories on epub, rather than what looks better in print (since I sell so few print books).

As I said, I prefer reading PL, but like you with EB Garamond, it increased my book sizes so much, I had to abandon it (PL, not EBG).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


It's one of the five fonts that ALL epubs support.


Do you mind telling me where you get the information for that claim from? E-pub probably come with some fonts loaded on them and others can be loaded, but the actual e-pub files have no fonts in them unless you embed them in the file, which can be done with any font.

As to the Garamond font itself. The original was designed back in the 15th century. The modern electronic variants are mostly proprietary fonts owned by the companies or people who designed them, and thus require a fee to get a copy of and use. Adobe Garamond is the first of them. There a dozens of versions of Garmond fonts with the great majority of them being available only as physical typeset versions, not electronic versions.

EB Garamond was created in 2011 and released under an Open Font License. It comes as EBG 8 which is an 8 point font and EBG 12 which is a 12 point font, since you said you had to go to a 12 point font to read it I got the EBG 12 and tried it. I'll look to see what the EBG 8 is like, but it should come out like the EBG 12 when set to 12 point.

Edit to add: Just tried a Garamond 8 and found it to be a little bit more cluttered than the Palatino.

Yes, I know Palatino Linotype is also a proprietary font, but I already have a copy and it's supposed to be installed in most Microsoft systems as well.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Do you mind telling me where you get the information for that claim from? E-pub probably come with some fonts loaded on them and others can be loaded, but the actual e-pub files have no fonts in them unless you embed them in the file, which can be done with any font.

It's been a LONG time since I did my preliminary research, and after a couple hours chasing down one unrelated 'ebook font' website after another, I gave up in disgust. It seems the questions of 'most consistent/reliable epub documents' rarely produces the requested information.

However, about your response, you can use Palatino Linotype in your document, but that's not what's used by in your ebooks, as it's not an ebook font! Thus you can count on font substitutions occurring!

But, in the end, unless you choose to embed fonts in your document (a troublesome and problematic process), the central component of fonts in ebooks is that the author/designer has Zero control over font choices, as those (like font size) are entirely up to each individual reader, and your choices are determined by the ebook reader software. Epubs generally have a more stable list of selectable fonts (i.e. they're more consistent across devices, as they rely on a standard subset of browser, rather than system fonts).

Turns out the font that I've been using is Adobe Garamond, although there are plenty of FREE versions of Garamond with subtle variations to keep from being sued for copyright theft.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Epubs generally have a more stable list of selectable fonts (i.e. they're more consistent across devices, as they rely on a standard subset of browser, rather than system fonts).


CW,

As best as I've been able to find out the e-pub file does not have a font or set of fonts that it uses unless you embed the font in the file. I couldn't find any preferred list of fonts in the e-pub specs, but I may have missed something while skimming them. Some, but not all, e-book readers have a preferred font or a set of preferred fonts the reader can select from to use, but with the option to add other fonts. Some of the e-book reader programs do the same as the readers, while some default to the system font of the system the software is running on.

In short, to the best of what I can find out there is no preferred font or font set for e-pub files as such, while some companies involved in the e-book industry may be pushing some preferred fonts. However, you may come across a preferred font or font set in some brands of e-book readers and e-book software, and most will use any font that's embedded in the file. Most will also allow the user to set their preferred font for their reader or system.

I'm of two minds about embedding the fonts. While I would like the e-pub to display how I intended it to, I know it will be manipulated to fit the screen size of the reader being used, so that is a wild wish not likely to happen. Also, I dislike being dictated to by others. That's why I don't embed the fonts, and I likely will continue to not embed the fonts. However, I may true that on a few and see how it goes.

edit to add the italicized bit in the 2nd paragraph.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

As best as I've been able to find out the e-pub file does not have a font or set of fonts that it uses unless you embed the font in the file.

I'm guessing that's because epubs use the same fonts as most browsers, so my one-time list of epub fonts might actually have been a list of the most 'universal' browser supported fonts (since everything else in epubs is identical to html).

I also looked into embedding a font into a epub, actually going as far as purchasing a font to test out. It was a nightmare. You don't actually "add" any fonts, what you do is to 'substitute' existing fonts, which means you'll also change any existing default display fonts in the document. Not wanting to get involved in that level of detail for a font I only planned to use for titles and/or epigraphs, I returned the font for a full refund.

The process of replacing fonts is also incredibly complex, as you've got to provide a data table of the replacement font's characteristics (no text allowed, only numerical codes hard-coded in place). It's worse than coding is assembler back in the 80s, because at least them you had compilers to translate text commands into machine coding for you.

Your best bet, rather than embedding fonts, is to replace your title display font for rendered images, like I do (if you have any desire to do unnecessary work, just cause you can). That's fairly straightforward, assuming you've got a fairly basic image-editing program, though I doubt GIMP would be robust enough for it.

My only point wasn't that you should use my default font, only that the fonts you use in your document have NO relation to the actual fonts used in your document. You can specify which fonts are displayed in Amazon books, since they supply a list just for that purpose, but I'm not sure the same approach will work for any other ebook reader program/app.

Again, the whole idea in epubs/ereaders is that they take the design elements out of the publisher's hands and put it in the user's hand, via each system's browser's default fonts, which also vary by system.

A better approach would be to examine your finished products across a range of different machines/browsers and see which fonts your fonts default to, and then substitute those so you can see how your finished product will look MOST OF THE TIME, but again, the user can override those fonts any time they want.

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