Here’s a little factoid for you. Word spaces (or the spaces between the words) were invented in the Middle Ages. Before then, people didn’t separate one word from the next.
As Nicholas Carr explains in his June 20, 2010, article “As Technology Advances, Deep Reading Suffers” in the San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2010/06/20/INL91DU44K.DTL): “Long lines of letters ran together across the length of the scroll or the page. Reading in those days was a trial. Your brain cranked away as you tried to decipher where one word ended and the next began. No one read silently. To decipher a word, you had to say it out loud.”
Then, around the year 800, an unidentified monk started putting spaces around words. That little invention changed the course of culture.
Spaces meant that reading was easier, and therefore more people did more of it, for longer periods of time, and with increasingly complex material.
This notion that spaces could have such an impact really struck me. Often words are more potent if surrounded by space.
After all, that’s part of the appeal of bullet points, headlines, and other dividers. Not the words or symbols. Just the pause. The space.
So if you really want someone to pay attention, maybe you should make your paragraphs short so there will be a lot of space in your document.
Something to consider.
You can find more articles about writing at my website: www.CommunicationsPlus.net/WritingArticles.html
Susan Monroe says
Wow. Space = grace.
It’s a powerful concept. Just imagine people reading more, “practicing” the art of acquiring knowledge more, perfecting their critical thinking skills, just because of those little space grace notes.
On a less esoteric level, it can be hard to convey how important space can be when time is limited. Consider the typical website. People scan the content and stumble when there’s too much, too tightly packed.
We’re on similar wave lengths, Kay. I’m taking on headlines in my next post.