From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Styling Culture (6)—Text and Spacing

Click here to read the introduction to the Round and Square series "Styling Culture." 
In the next few weeks I will be posting the text for a "volume" that I have been distributing for the last fifteen years. Back in 1997, I handed out a two-page set of instructions that I called "Rob's Style Sheet." I quickly learned that it could be a useful teaching tool, allowing me to describe the practicalities and esoterica surrounding grammar and style in the higher education classroom (and beyond). It also became apparent that it could be a useful tool for writing comments on student papers. Instead of trying to explain in the margins of a paper that s/he was using "number" in problematic ways (we'll get to that), I could write "#19," and have her know exactly what I mean. The most impressive students learned the material very well, and some of them have already gone on to be successful writers—in and beyond academia and the corporate world.
[a] Single-spaced RF
I will be posting the manuscript that I have provisionally entitled Styling Culture on Round and Square during August and September. As you will quickly see, it is meant to be a grammar book for the anthropologist of American English. It has its prescriptive elements, to be sure (this is all explained in the introduction to the series), but it is meant far more powerfully to be a genuinely useful guide to the culture wars surrounding grammar and usage. In particular, I have great venom for both the annoying critics who always seem to be correcting people and (this is important) for the "good guys" who tell you that it doesn't matter. They're both wrong, and they will hurt you if you listen to them. I'm here to help you, so read on.

Styling Culture (6)—Text and Spacing
a.  Most text should be double-spaced. When in doubt, double-space.
b.  The exceptions to the double-spacing requirement are the following (which 
      should all be single-spaced).
                1. Inset quotations. This is my preference; it saves paper and keeps the 
                    focus on your prose). See Styling Culture (7)—Quotations (below).
                2. Information at the front/top of your paper (name, date, course, box number).
                3. Captions for photographs, maps, and other figures or tables.
                4. Footnotes or endnotes, as well as bibliographical entries (but double-space
                    between them). 
                5. Lists (see points 1 and 3, above).
                6. Poems, music, and other material that doesn’t fit perfectly into the “inset
                    quotation” rule. 
                7. Assignments: Abstracts, Summary Reviews, and very brief writings (under 
                    two pages).
c. Any “permission” for single-spacing a full assignment will always be noted on the assignment handout. When in doubt, double-space.
***  ***
Unlike our involved, painful, and confrontational trip through citation styles (5a and 5b), this one is easy. Most publishers want everything double-spaced. It creates a "clean" form for editing, and it is the way I send everything when it is in the process of heading toward publication. If you are going to write for publication, you will have to learn to double-space everything from your main text and inset quotations to footnotes and bibliography.

When in doubt, double-space.

For my own purposes in a classroom setting, I want to adjust these slightly. On this style sheet, I always seek first to explain what is expected by the vast majority of publishers and then to give my reasons for the differences I request. First, I would like to save a little paper, so I give permission for single-spacing in inset quotations, as well as citations and bibliography. I can handle the single-spacing there, and am more interested in how you quote, say, Michel de Montaigne than precisely what he has to say in double-spaced form. The same goes for a few obvious things, such as titles, course information, or brief assignments. When in doubt, double-space, but be sensible (don't double-space your name and the course number).

When in doubt, double-space.

[b] Double-spaced RF
So why not just single-space everything and save paper? Oh, how I wish we could, but it just won't work. It is very difficult to read (and critique) "between the lines" when there are six hundred or more words jammed onto a page. There is no way to write comments underneath the text, or to praise you to the sky with all sorts of !!! and *** that show my engagement with your riveting discourse. It also goes so far beyond what the publishing industry expects that it would be wrong of me to lead you so far astray. The purpose of this guide is to teach you how to move from college writing to the wider world of publication.

When in doubt, double-space.

This is long and involved...and vitally important. Brace yourself for a trip through the dense jungles and hanging vines that make up the world of quotations.

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