Re: On The Margin

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Two bucks says new Word template.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:00 PM
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Is there a hard and fast rule on this? I've never indented paragraphs in any cover letters, but I think most (or at least a nonnegligible fraction) of the offer letters I've received had indented paragraphs. Is there an asymmetry there? Are the people who've offered me jobs unprofessional?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:04 PM
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Yeah, I'm surprised you have strong feelings about this. Indented paragraphs are perfectly conventional in a lot of contexts (our office style indents paragraphs in business letters), and I hadn't realized there was a strong no-indent norm.

I recognize non-indented paragraphs as looking perfectly normal as long as there's space between them, but not as the only acceptable alternative.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:06 PM
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What's your problem, people? BECKS HAS SPOKEN. Now shut up or she'll toss your application in the circular file.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:12 PM
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Is there a hard and fast rule on this?

I learned that you can either (1) line up everything, including adressee's information, salutation, and closing along the left margin with no indentations; or (2) indent paragraphs, in which case the date, adressee's information, and closing are to be aligned seven tab spaces over.

Our typing teacher was rather adamant that either style was acceptable but do not I REPEAT DO NOT mix and match. (He was also the football coach.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:12 PM
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What's unprofessional about it? Because something is used universally in school assignments, it should immediately be discarded forever once you graduate?

I don't think I've ever written a document consisting of paragraphs, intended for someone else to read, that didn't have indented paragraphs. It's as much of a default as capitalizing the letter at the beginning of a sentence.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:15 PM
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That I would throw them away is hyperbole but I definitely think less of the person. Indenting is only for handwritten "friendly" letters, dammit!


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:15 PM
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DO NOT MIX!


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:17 PM
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I indent the paragraphs when I want to be formal, that is, in an academic or professional context. When writing something informal, there's no need to indent them. That's what I was taught.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:17 PM
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But there are formal business styles that aren't the block style. If you've got the date and the signature block and so forth over on the right, you indent paragraphs -- that's not informal, it's just a different formal style.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:22 PM
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Forget the indentation... people still write cover letters?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:26 PM
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Who indents things by hand? How can you be sure you've moved over the right amount? Unless you're using graph paper, that is totally unprofessional, Becks.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:26 PM
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Forget the indentation... people still write cover letters?

I think it's some sort of weird "real world" thing. Thank god for the tech industry.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:30 PM
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13: The tech industry outgrew them? They exist even in academia, where they seem to be sort of vestigial but still considered necessary. It just seems weird to write a formal cover letter asking for a job from someone who one has had drinks, or who shouts "duuuuude!" to greet one at conferences.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:33 PM
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You're crazy. Indenting is perfectly acceptable.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:33 PM
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Well at least you're not over-reacting to a minor formatting issue (for which there is no hard and fast rule) and punishing people unnecessarily.

Oh, wait.


Posted by: Steve Balboni | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:34 PM
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If you send in a resume, you send it with a cover letter.

If they have an application form, you do your best with the ruddy form.

I don't indent paragraphs on a cover letter, but it's not because of Becks.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:35 PM
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It just seems weird to write a formal cover letter asking for a job from someone who one has had drinks, or who shouts "duuuuude!" to greet one at conferences.

It's even harder to remember to refer to them as Prof. So -and-so when teaching their articles. I'm not name-dropping! Honest!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:36 PM
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15: Right. Women are too emotional about lots of things.

But the 54-year-old Democrat joined several other Hillary Clinton supporters, along with volunteers and officials from John McCain's campaign, at a Happy Hour for Hillary.

The event, sponsored by the Republican National Committee and approved by the McCain campaign, was a chance for McCain and Clinton supporters to come together for one cause: their opposition to Barack Obama's candidacy.

From http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/26/clinton.backers/


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:37 PM
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That I would throw them away is hyperbole but I definitely think less of the person.

Oh yeah? Well, indentors are rubber, you're glue!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:38 PM
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someone who one has had drinks,

I wrote that? Ugh. You know what I meant.

18: Yeah, I remember as an undergrad sometimes thinking that younger professors and grad students were doing a lot of name-dropping. Only later did I realize how hard it is to refer to people formally all the time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:39 PM
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21: I actually explained it to my class, after they were tittering a little, because not only was I not referring to the dude's last name, but I was clipping his first name to the usual nickname. They giggled at me.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:43 PM
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over-reacting to a minor formatting issue (for which there is no hard and fast rule) and punishing people unnecessarily.
once i saw at the port authority how someone was dropping some letters into the trash bin without opening very like routinely and it was not just ads or bills, looked like manuscripts, applications or something like that in the larger envelopes
i think it's a very mean act
at least open it to find out what is it about


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:46 PM
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If you send in a resume, you send it with a cover letter.

"[S]end in a resume"?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:47 PM
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When writing formal correspondence, I center everything, and use drop caps for each paragraph; I center the drop caps as well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:50 PM
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I always learned handwritten=indent, typewriter=don't indent. I never heard anything about a differential for the return address at the right. The return address went at the right.

But then nowadays you can start each paragraph with one of those great big illuminated letters. Ben will now demonstrate.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:53 PM
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"[S]end in a resume"?

More "real world" stuff.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:56 PM
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It's completely unprofessional. That will make me chuck your cover letter faster than a typo.

My initial reaction to this is that it's idiotic.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:59 PM
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For companies I like, I hire a small group of orthodox monks in Eastern Turkey to illuminate and gild my cover letter. I've found the enormous leading letters for each paragraph are a good compromise between indentation and block styles. Then it's couriered by trained monkey in a vacuum-sealed glass case so the corporation can add it to their archives with no additional work.

For companies I don't like, I follow Sifu's template and use Comic Sans for everything. Except the signature. I write that in Impact so they know JUST HOW BOLD I AM!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 4:59 PM
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To elaborate: small tech companies usually hire through the good-old-boy network or possibly two-steps-removed personal references. Larger tech companies will pay their employees several thousand dollars if they refer someone who gets hired.

If a company is reduced to posting job listings on Monster.com or Craigslist or their website and sorting through the inevitable stream of marginally relevant resumes they get, a cover letter that says "I am interested in job X that you posted at location Y. If you look at my resume, you will see that I am qualified for it." is more than sufficient.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:01 PM
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24, 27: so what do you do, just show up and announce that you're now working there?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:01 PM
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That settles that.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:02 PM
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16: Strong words for a guy with a career .229 batting average.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:03 PM
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31: In addition to 30, there's also "post your own resume on Craigslist". In that situation, writing anything other than a very brief title for your posting is an utter waste of time.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:05 PM
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I send in perfectly formatted cover letters and save the fun for the interview.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:06 PM
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I don't believe Becks has ever been so massively disagreed with in a thread before. It's almost like having ogged back.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:07 PM
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DO NOT MIX!

It's a matter of purity.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:07 PM
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31: That's what I did for my last job, oddly enough.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:10 PM
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35: I was expecting a link to this.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:12 PM
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Do people include the physical mailing addresses in e-mail cover letters? A fair number of job listings don't give more than an e-mail address that doesn't even specify the name of the recipient.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:15 PM
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People, Becks is totally right. Indented paragraphs grate in professional correspondence.

||
While hysterically funny to yourself and your 3 year old at the time, putting a pair of underwear on your face, calling yourself "Buttface" and grabbing your child to give her "fart kisses" may in fact result in some fairly tiresome repartee over the following few days.
|>


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:21 PM
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While hysterically funny to yourself and your 3 year old at the time, putting a pair of underwear on your face, calling yourself "Buttface" and grabbing your child to give her "fart kisses" may in fact result in some fairly tiresome repartee over the following few days.

Midway through typing this comment, Chopper paused, looked slightly upwards, and let a wry half-smile cross his face, just like Doogie Howser. I think somebody grew up a little bit, today.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:24 PM
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I have a little magic paper-clip that always asks me if I'd like help when I start a letter, so this never comes up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:28 PM
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43: what if you forget to have it near your computer?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:29 PM
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Sifu, it's magic.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:29 PM
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It'll be my sidekick when they write my children's book, The Value Of Being Right : The Heebie-Geebie Story.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 5:35 PM
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If I'm understanding correctly that the objection is to indenting the first line of a paragraph, then you're batshit crazy. If not, never mind.

Also, unless the job is Professional Cover Letter Writer, why does the formating matter?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:05 PM
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||

Again and again the vultures' pink naked heads plunged themselves orgiastically into the carcass like so many penises, if penises had cruel beaks and horrible staring yellow eyes.

Which is to say that I flushed five vultures from their roadkill on my bike ride today, and that I expect to win the Bulwer-Lytton contest next year.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:06 PM
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if?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:09 PM
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||

More appetizingly*, a few days ago I saw a flock of about fifteen egrets standing in a glassy-surfaced pond during the late afternoon.

There's no cure word for egret flocks, but heron groups are "sedges".

*I'm not implying that people eat egrets, but only that egrets standing in glassy-surfaced ponds do not destroy the appetite.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:10 PM
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47: I think Becks is filling the role of cultural gatekeeper for her employer, in that they do not want to employ people who haven't gone through certain social and eductaional processes that would lead them to know the unwritten rules of things like this.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:11 PM
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I hate to say it, but ben gets it exactly right in 28.

I certainly see the attraction to having these hard and fast rules that one can enforce against other people, but it's still idiotic and shallow. Another example of the same phenomena.

Which is not to say that there aren't good reasons to care about the way someone presents themselves, either in a cover letter or through what they wear. It's just that deciding "X is always wrong, end of discussion" brings to mind hobgoblins and small minds, or highschool cliques.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:17 PM
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M/tch got trooooollled! Ohh, damn!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:20 PM
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How fast do typo's chuck cover letters?

(On preview, I'm preserving the ty'po.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:22 PM
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42: If he types as slow as Doogie, Becks will never hire him!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:24 PM
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How fast do typo's chuck cover letters?

At my job, instantly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:30 PM
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I think the rule of thumb is that prospective employers get too many applications of roughly equal measurable quality and are generally looking for any reason to chuck any of them. So Becks' rule works to that end. She could pick a word she hates and use that to weed out applications to the same end.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:36 PM
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19:

But there is some bad news for Obama. The poll showed that 66 percent of Clinton supporters -- registered Democrats who want Clinton as the nominee -- are now backing Obama. That's down from 75 percent in the end of June. Twenty-seven percent of them now say they'll support McCain, up from 16 percent in late June.

I keep on reminding myself that I don't actually hate Hillary Clinton supporters, that it's a misogynist, conservative, conflict-biased media that wants me to.

But what am I to make of that poll? That better be just pure bullshit.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:40 PM
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Are you annoyed by indents to the first sentence of a paragraph, or seeing the whole paragraph set in an indented block? The former, right?

With book and article typesetting the convention is that the opening line of the first paragraph in a chapter or section has no indentation, but that subsequent paragraphs in the section are indented. I don't know about business letters.

People often get the spacing wrong when indenting. Usually they use way too much. It's a bit like people who put two spaces after a full stop.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:41 PM
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It's a bit like people who put two spaces after a full stop.

I live in the hope that my writing will be surreptitiously reformatted in a monospaced font.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:43 PM
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It's a bit like people who put two spaces after a full stop.

Surely I am not the only one who was taught in a school setting that this is The Way. Did this convention change recently?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:46 PM
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61: it is still the convention when one is using a typewriter or (as above) a monospaced font. Modern fonts, having kerning, no longer need this crutch.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:47 PM
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Surely I am not the only one who was taught in a school setting that this is The Way. Did this convention change recently?

It's one of those conventions that's been long outmoded by technology. With properly-designed fonts you don't need to do it, and it survives as a vestigial reminder of a dark time when you had to put everything directly onto paper using some sort of writing-type machine and then send it off to the printer who would set your typescript properly.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:50 PM
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63: I am shocked to learn that my elementary school teachers were not all-knowing.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:55 PM
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63 is right.

I've done page layout on a light-table with a metal ruler and a scalpel, and set it using hot wax.

I first laid eyes on a piece of software that would do the same kind of thing 22 years ago. Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 6:56 PM
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Ah, technology. Back in the typewriter days I could stare for hours at a blank piece of paper. Now I can watch the Sox-Yankees game (Pettite pulled!) and listen to the convention using the same machine on which I'm getting nothing accomplished.

I've done page layout on a light-table with a metal ruler and a scalpel, and set it using hot wax

Me too. I've set type by hand. No cuneiform, though, at least not yet.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:04 PM
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Ugh. Speaking of idiotic and shallow, the company I work for is dropping its business casual dress code and making everyone go back to full dress business attire. Have studies shown that people in painful shoes who feel like they are choking create more value for their employers?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:05 PM
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Studies have shown that you should be glad for what you have, mcmc, and don't make waves.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:08 PM
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the company I work for is dropping its business casual dress code and making everyone go back to full dress business attire

This is more of that "real world" stuff water moccasin was talking about, isn't it?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:11 PM
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67: Fashions have to change or fashionistas/consultants/Becks etc. wouldn't have anything to have STRONG OPINIONS! about.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:12 PM
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Have studies shown that people in painful shoes who feel like they are choking create more value for their employers?

Alas, I think the studies have shown that many men can be trusted to dress in suits, but not in business casual.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:17 PM
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61: I was taught the two spaces rule and it's imprinted in my spinal cord. I can't stop putting them in. For sure I'm not going to bother typing comments into a word processor, using search and replace to get rid of one of the spaces, and transfer the text into a comment box.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:18 PM
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68: You're right, Ben. I was being selfish. Tomorrow I'll work an extra hour.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:20 PM
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Indenting is only for handwritten "friendly" letters, dammit!

I disagree with you, Becks.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:23 PM
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It is going to be hard to ride that electric bike in business attire.

I still remember when women couldnt wear anything but dresses or skirts in the office. My first year after law school, it was a big deal the first time that a female associate to come to the office wearing ....a PANTS SUIT!!!! The horror!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:26 PM
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Wow. will is old.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:27 PM
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          I think more people should indent.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:27 PM
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Hey, youngster! I've got two kids tickets for this weekend if you and eekbeat want to come. You can both pass for being under 18.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:29 PM
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This is more of that "real world" stuff water moccasin was talking about, isn't it?

I hate you.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:35 PM
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I really like wearing skirts, but skirt suits are still a drag.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:44 PM
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No kidding. Let's not even talk about the shoes. On the other hand, if I ride a lot over the next couple of weeks, maybe by September I can fit into my old suits.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:50 PM
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That was supposed to be to will's 75, but it works for 80, too, sort of


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:51 PM
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Has comment 1 been judged correct, or incorrect? Because if comment 1 is correct, then the practice of which Becks complains is by that very fact made correct. Word templates do not lie.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:57 PM
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72: I was taught the two spaces rule and it's imprinted in my spinal cord. I can't stop putting them in. For sure I'm not going to bother typing comments into a word processor, using search and replace to get rid of one of the spaces, and transfer the text into a comment box.

I hear you, Biohazard. Luckily, around here, anyway, your nasty two spaces are reduced to a single space all on their own, and no one will ever know that your typing fingers just do this automatically.

The block style of paragraphing I was taught as business standard 20 years ago. Anything else in an application letter would strike me as coming from someone unfamiliar with the standards, and as therefore problematic.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 7:58 PM
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Luckily, around here, anyway, your nasty two spaces are reduced to a single space all on their own, and no one will ever know that your typing fingers just do this automatically.

I never even noticed this. I always type two spaces, and having read the above comments (Gonerill is a typeface snob, of course), I was thinking my comments must look absolutely archaic. And I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. Total dead-ender!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:08 PM
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Besides which, you start sentences with "and".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:13 PM
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I guess this thread clears up whatever remaining mystery there was behind the fact that all the jobs I apply for don't reply to me. Although I don't indent the cover letter, so there's a point in my favor.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:14 PM
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I was thinking my comments must look absolutely archaic.

I've been half-expecting ben to inform us that he knows that our full stops are followed by two spaces. And believe you him, he has exercised suitable judgment regarding this matter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:18 PM
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I would actually like ben to yell at me about my excessive hyphenation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:20 PM
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I actually learned the two-space thing and it's been pretty solidly ingrained into my thumbs as well. Standpipe's made fun of me for it, in fact.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:22 PM
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I definitely think less of the person

I definitely think less of people who don't know the difference between style conventions and errors.

Also, Goneril!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:23 PM
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Also, Gonerill!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:26 PM
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I ran out of l's. Thanks, wo fson.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:40 PM
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85: Hmmph! I never noticed it either and I even intellectually knew they were eliminated. Anyway, I just tried single spacing in this comment. Now I know how Adrian Monk feels when things aren't neatly aligned, I had to go back and put them in.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:41 PM
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I wasn't sure if it had been ingrained into my thumbs, but a look at my dissertation suggests it is. Weird.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 8:42 PM
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I wish I knew what everyone was talking about with regard to the full stops.  Oh well, probably best not to know.  And I hope the narrative-mongering mainstream media is eating a bit of crow after that speech.  I know—assumes self-awareness not in evidence.  Fuckers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 9:16 PM
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96: Obviously, no one could I could not have imagined that there would be a thread dedicated to the speech.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 9:21 PM
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The one space after sentences is sick and wrong, and the fact that someone is so desperate to justify it that they would invoke "kerning", like some sort of low-rent Powerline, tells you everything you need to know about the character of such an individual.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 9:24 PM
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I do the two spaces after a period thing -- I think law offices tend very conservative about formatting.

I'm finding the people who are judgmental about indenting, as indicating unfamiliarity with business practices, really interesting. It's honestly not a universal standard -- block formatting is universally acceptable, but letters go out of statusy law firms with indenting all the time. I wonder if it's a more industry-specific tell -- like no one in techy companies indents or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 9:53 PM
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Kobe will not be marginalized.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 9:54 PM
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I like that people are construing this as a matter of something other than typographic necessity. Battle on!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 9:59 PM
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    I too am wondering what all the fuss is about, surely we can tolerate a few paragraph formatting Nazis amongst us without going all Lord of the Flies.  At least I think we can. Shutup! I have the conch.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 10:05 PM
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Comma splices, however, are strictly verboten.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 10:52 PM
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I like the conch on you, JP.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 10:55 PM
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The one space after sentences is sick and wrong

I'll lend my support to this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:03 PM
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103: Without looking up "comma splice," I deduce, perhaps incorrectly, that it refers to the use of commas to separate what should be separate sentences, or might be separated by a semicolon. Which leads me to note that I also put two spaces after a semicolon.

I believe I'll go to bed now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:15 PM
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Which leads me to note that I also put two spaces after a semicolon.

Now that's insane.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:18 PM
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103: Shirley, I'll never learn. But I don't care. And what rough sentence, its hour come round at last slouches towards Unfogged to be posted.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:18 PM
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Ooh, I also learned two spaces after a colon, which also seems deprecated at this point. Thoughts?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:19 PM
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You two-spacers are fossils. The extra space is unnecessary, which is to say, a sin.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:19 PM
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JmCQ's Taylorist approach to blog commenting reveals the true inhumanity at the heart of prescriptivist dogma like Becks's.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:21 PM
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After a colon, too, I think. Though I'd have to think about that (since I rarely use them). But it seems wrong.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:22 PM
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You two-spacers are fossils. The extra space is unnecessary, which is to say, a sin.

Jesus is a Protestant—who knew?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:22 PM
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I--am, unemployable; obviously.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:26 PM
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I just deplore waste. I would prefer to devote the time others spend on gratuitous keystrokes to dolce far niente.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:30 PM
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Sweet nothing grain?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:30 PM
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113: Jesus is a Protestant--who knew?

What? With the long hair and the Puerto Rican name?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:32 PM
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Ben, I'm not going to play along if you don't even try.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:33 PM
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Every man is, or hopes to be, an idler, Jesus.

I'm idling.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:39 PM
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While hysterically funny to yourself and your 3 year old at the time, putting a pair of underwear on your face, calling yourself "Buttface" and grabbing your child to give her "fart kisses" may in fact result in some fairly tiresome repartee over the following few days

IME, doing this at a job interview this is even more fatal to your employment prospects than indenting the first line of each paragraph in your cover letter.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-26-08 11:57 PM
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Also, no one noted my misspelling of Andy Pettitte's surname in the other thread. People are not bringing their A game tonight.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 12:14 AM
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121: eh. I don't even have a baseball.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:04 AM
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I was taught to use two spaces so Latex could distinguish the end of a sentence from an abbreviation. However the Internets assures me this is wrong. No more two spaces!


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 3:24 AM
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re: 123

Interesting. I've used LateX for years and no-one ever told me that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 6:06 AM
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124: LaTeX. Since we're being insufferable pedants in this thread.

Also, I freely confess I have no idea how or when to use a semicolon. Somehow this has not lead to social ostracism or the death of my career. Are they ever really necessary?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 6:28 AM
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Are they ever really necessary?

As separators in a list of items that contain commas, yes. Otherwise, you can make two sentences rather than using a semi-colon, but it makes for less choppy reading when used properly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 6:33 AM
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I definitely think less of people who don't know the difference between style conventions and errors.

Agreed.

I hated the Blue Book.

The Blue Book used to be the lawyer's formating bible. I threw it out a long time ago. I don't think we even have one in the office anymore.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 6:42 AM
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At my job, it's all about the American Medical Association Manual of Style.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 6:44 AM
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At my job, it's all about the American Medical Association Manual of Style.

Black socks with shorts?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 6:50 AM
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re: 129

With white coat and BMW-key accessories.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 7:06 AM
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Any of you who double-spacers who use Word (or Outlook, I think) as your primary writing software should know that double-spacing is autocorrected to a single space as a default setting, and has been for at least a decade. (I used to write macros for Word when editing textbook manuscripts--it was weirdly satisfying to clear out all the doublespacing in a doc with a single click of the mouse--like popping a zit.) Those macros were made obsolete shortly after I left editing.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 8:23 AM
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Anything else in an application letter would strike me as coming from someone unfamiliar with the standards, and as therefore problematic.

I just want to pull this out, because it's an attitude I've seen IRL. A lot of these standards are taught, near as I can tell, in HS typing and 'business' classes that are, basically, retro-secretary track courses that most people never take. Yet the people who have taken them imagine that the rules they were taught there are A. universal, B. universally understood, and C. important.

I once had a secretary* scold me for folding a letter wrong. WTF? I understand that, for everything in business, there must be a Right Way, but the reality is that I've never in my life noticed how a letter was folded, and the only people who would notice are secretaries and people who put too much stock in their HS 'business' class. Anyone important enough to impress won't be opening her own mail anyway - will her secretary attach a Post-It noting that the letter had been folded wrong?

Holy shit, I just remembered that it wasn't just the folding - it was how it faced in the envelope! Jesus. Funniest thing was that this person was a total latter-day hippie, but pretty Type A underneath.

* Believe me, I have not spent much of my professional life with a secretary


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 8:39 AM
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Oh, and 107 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 8:41 AM
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Geez JRoth, don't you know you have to impress the secretary if you want to be allowed to see the big cheese?

Also, it would seem off to me if something was folded to fit into an envelope with the text on the outside. The blank side of the paper should be on the outside. Is that what she was complaining about?

have never heard of any way that indenting paragraphs is odd or unacceptable, though.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 8:54 AM
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The blank side of the paper should be on the outside.

All right, this is weird. I wouldn't worry about it too much, but I would react to a letter folded in any way other than print on the outside, top of the page facing the back of the envelope so it's what you see when you lift the flap, as peculiar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 8:58 AM
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But other than that, JRoth is right in 132.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 8:59 AM
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re: 135

Standard practice here, as far as I can tell, is to fold in thirds [assuming a roughly A4 sheet of paper going into a standard envelope] with the print facing in.

When I worked as a 'secretary'* you'd then stick the folded bit into the typewriter to add the address so it could be seen through the window on the envelope.

* I did a fair bit of temping as an undergrad.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:01 AM
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print on the outside, top of the page facing the back of the envelope so it's what you see when you lift the flap

Wait, this is crazy talk. A letter should be folded so that when you pull it out of the envelope, you lift the first fold up, and there's your text.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:01 AM
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Don't listen to JRoth. His mind is probably crazed from lack of sleep and dirty diapers.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:02 AM
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Everyone knows that you don't fold correspondence or pleadings anymore. You email it.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:03 AM
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re: 138

FWIW, I don't think I ever remembering opening a letter where it was folded and inserted as LB says. So, yup, crazy. Or 'lawyer' which is the same thing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:04 AM
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Psychologically it looks messy to me when I open the envelope and the text is right there. the test should have been hidden on the inside of the paper, not quite as readable to spies.

And then when looking at the paper, it looks neater when the folds are concave rather than convex. The text is more contained and orderly.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:04 AM
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138 is correct, as I was taught. But I put two spaces after periods, so I'm probably not a trustworthy source.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:05 AM
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Is it time to move on to the Rules about fonts?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:06 AM
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Clearly it's best to avoid ambiguity and confusion by always using 8.5"X11" envelopes.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:07 AM
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We (at some medical dept in Oxford) always folded it with so the top third (addresses etc) was on top, and thus when you put it in the envelope, the addressee's address could be seen through the window. Our headed notepaper even came with a preprinted little mark on it so you knew where to fold.

On an almost-related note, C has been moaning lately that the university has changed its logo so instead of having a white background, it now has a navy blue background. Thus making everyone use more toner.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:11 AM
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138: Wait, so what's visible when you lift the flap of the envelope is the bottom third of the letter? And then underneath that is the top third, with the middle third facing the front of the envelope?

You know, maybe I just don't pay enough attention. Almost everything serious comes in by email.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:13 AM
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Both UK commenters seem to think that the standard envelope has a window in it. I never even considered that a human being might be involved in putting something in an envelope with a window. those are all from the gas utility and the junk mail.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:15 AM
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Wait, so what's visible when you lift the flap of the envelope is the bottom third of the letter?

No, what's visible is the back of the top third of the letter.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:21 AM
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So 'print in' is standard, is what people are saying? That really does seem odd to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:22 AM
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The Seventh Circuit posts a great article on typeface, etc. on their website -- ca7.uscourts.gov, look for the "Painting with Print" link. Based on this, I no longer justify margins (to the mild irritation of a few partners, alas... ) and I have tried, tried, tried not to double space between sentences. But alas. My thumbs reflexively tap twice following a period. Occasionally, I will "fix" it with a find and replace, but it still looks kind of funny to me that way...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:25 AM
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150: For what it's worth, LB, I think it's even more standard not to even notice how the paper you just pulled out of the envelope was folded. But then, I am all about elevating substance over style.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:26 AM
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Basically, what LizardBreath has said gets it exactly right, and particularly the weirdness of folding letters so the print does not show. There is a practical reason for folding the letter so that the top third shows, people: It is so the person opening the letter immediately knows who it is from and to, and thus can easily get it to the right person.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:26 AM
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Thinking about this more, I actually believe that some time long ago in school I might have been taught that letters should be placed in envelopes print-out, with the top third showing when you open the envelope--as LB suggests. But that instruction long ago faded into the recesses of my memory, and I'm not sure I've ever seen this technique utilized in real life. Of course, I never pay the least attention to how letters are folded in envelopes, so I could be totally wrong about that. Anyway, *I* fold them print-in. But of course I never personally mail anything important to anyone.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:29 AM
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And 142 is right about concave vs. convex. Folding pages convexly ruins the aesthetics of the reading experience.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:32 AM
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So 'print in' is standard, is what people are saying?

Holy cow, yes. You don't want people to be able to read the text through the sealed envelope.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:32 AM
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148 - well, this was a while ago, and it made less work for us to not have to worry about getting the addresses onto the envelopes. This was for doing mass mailings too. I don't remember whether that's what we used to do all the time, but was just pointing out that that's an acceptable variation.

Nowadays if I ever send a letter, I fold it print in.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:52 AM
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too


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 9:53 AM
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135 describes what the secretary was calling for. Thing is, you don't "lift the flap" - it's glued shut! I prefer to slit the end of the envelope to pull out the letter, so the flap direction is irrelevant. Not that I think the way I do things is Correct - who would be so arrogant? - but simply pointing out that the premise of having a Right Way is flawed.

||
I'm hanging around this thread because I don't even want to deal with the other one. Maybe it's fine, maybe it isn't, but I don't need to revisit the petulance of the primary.
|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:06 AM
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It's all about cookies now, JRoth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:14 AM
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159: I've always felt I should use letter openers, because here's the tool, right here on my desk, specifically designed to assist with the task I'm doing right now, but for whatever reason I've never found them any easier than just ripping open the flap with my hands. I suppose it's possible the problem is jsut that I don't know the correct way to use a letter opener; I've never received any training in thier use.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:17 AM
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161: I've never received any training in thier use.

Wait until the bastard has his back turned and then slip it in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:20 AM
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Fuck cookies!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:43 AM
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See what I mean?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:43 AM
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I worry for our collective future when educated people fundamentally alter the possible trajectory of a stranger's life for no better reason than the presence or absence of indentation...and I'm a lawyer. Pathetic.


Posted by: Kitty Darfour | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:50 AM
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and I'm a lawyer. Pathetic.

Aw, come on, Kitty. It isn't necessarily pathetic to be a lawyer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:53 AM
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It isn't necessarily pathetic to be a lawyer.

After all, correlation isn't causation.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 10:55 AM
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After all, correlation isn't causation.

Indeed, the alternative hypothesis that pathetic people are disproportionately likely to self-select into becoming lawyers is equally plausible.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 11:00 AM
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Thanks for explaining that, Knecht. I'll sleep easier tonight.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 11:06 AM
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Tweety, you fuck, they're arguing with Brock about some sort of icky women's issue over there. That's not cookies!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 11:08 AM
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That's not cookies!

Enlightened, 21st-century men and women find arguing with Brock about women's issues to be even more delectable than cookies, neanderthal (literally "another valley").


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 11:10 AM
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Actually, ben, I'm on a plateau, so I'm really not clear on what you're getting at.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 12:04 PM
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Yeah, you wouldn't be.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 12:05 PM
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I advocate both 1) not revisiting the petulance of the primary and 2) using letter openers. We got one as a wedding present, an elegant thing with a Waterford crystal handle; it is such a joy to use I await the arrival of the postman nearly trembling with anticipation. I also use it to stir my drinks when I'm working nights.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 12:49 PM
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I have a nice, functional letter opener that I like to use, but I rarely bother to - it's in my office, 2 floors up from the mailbox, plus it's in a drawer. Plainly more effort than using my fingers.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:33 PM
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Has there been a thread about the "correct" way to hang toilet paper?


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:40 PM
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not sure Merganser. But if so, it's probably hanging out with a thread on how to properly break/eat a soft-boiled egg.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:44 PM
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Has there been a thread about the "correct" way to hang toilet paper?

I don't think a whole thread, but I'm pretty sure it's come up before. Over the top, of course, is the correct method.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:46 PM
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176: there has, in fact. I don't have a link, but you can google the archives. The toilet paper should hang so that you're pulling off the top, not the bottom.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:47 PM
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If one absolutely must have toilet paper, it should be unrolled, separated into squares and stacked neatly in a cabinet.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:52 PM
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When I'm interviewing potential hires, I always send them to a toilet with the toilet paper roll unhung. If they do it right, they can be hired. If they fail to do it, they're lazy, and I won't hire them. If they do it wrong, I hire them, then fire them and send bad references to any potential employers.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:52 PM
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Unless you have cats.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:52 PM
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There was a housemate murder in St Louis in 86 with stated cause being rate of TP use. The brand of TP was not named, but there was only one brand sold in 8-packs, and the 8-pack was mentioned.

Also, you can make an excellent indoor mummy costume for a kid with a little TP.

Also, much of Mexico apparently has sewers not up to TP disposal, so it is deposited in the waste paper basket. Mexico is humid and warm, and large restroom windows are not common.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:54 PM
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If one absolutely must have toilet paper, it should be unrolled, separated into squares and stacked neatly in a cabinet.

Similarly, a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:56 PM
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182 to 166.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:56 PM
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The toilet paper should hang so that you're pulling off the top, not the bottom.

Toilet paper is designed to pull things from your bottom, Brock.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:57 PM
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If I were a toilet paper-hanging authoritarian, I would refuse to let anyone poop in my house unless they had demonstrated correct toilet paper-hanging protocol in the past.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 1:58 PM
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187: If?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:00 PM
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186: One more example of Brock's incompetence at butt-related program activities.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:01 PM
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Keep it up, JRoth, and I'll see to it that you never poop in this town again.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:02 PM
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Don't forget to fold the toilet paper end in that neat little arrow like they do at fancy hotels. Because of this necessity, the paper may only be pulled from the top.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:03 PM
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If one absolutely must have toilet paper

The Eggplant household uses a bidet?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:11 PM
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191: The Sacred Point!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:12 PM
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The Eggplant household uses a bidet?

That'd be the Aubergine household, no?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:14 PM
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The Eggplant household uses a bidet?

There are other options. You could shower after every bowel movement. Or train your cat to lick you clean. Or your child.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:17 PM
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I'm not sure what happened to this link, which I'm positive I typed in 195.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:18 PM
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I use bleach and a bottlebrush. Like any civilized person.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:20 PM
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196: You forgot to put a closing quotation mark after the URL.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:21 PM
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I haven't read much beyond 132, but I'm the one JRoth is quoting there, so:

132: A lot of these standards are taught, near as I can tell, in HS typing and 'business' classes that are, basically, retro-secretary track courses that most people never take. Yet the people who have taken them imagine that the rules they were taught there are A. universal, B. universally understood, and C. important.

fwiw, I was taught the block paragraphs thing in the first business-type job I had (after college; it was actually for a non-profit organization). Never took any such classes in school. I figured, if anything, the standard may have changed since then, but as it was then, that style was the way *everything* that came into the office also looked. I'd have had to fire a secretary who didn't format our outgoing mail that way.

But you know, all this isn't really very important, is it. I haven't worked in that kind of environment for a very long time now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:36 PM
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So long as nothing is done in comic sans (you might want to extend this to courier), it shouldn't be unrecoverable.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:42 PM
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199: My take on the whole thing is that business correspondence was once the province of professionals, a major part of whose job was to keep things orderly. Now, everyone writes for herself, and letters mostly look better than when they were typed and likely contained a correction or two, so who gives a shit about precise niceties of formatting?

Other than Becks, that is.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-27-08 2:52 PM
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