Do You Have the Right Style?
It’s been a pretty slow news week in technology training, so I thought I’d briefly comment on the new printing of the APA Style Guide – the handbook of rules and guidelines for writing papers in the style mandated by the American Psychological Association. This is the how-to manual for writing academic papers, both for students writing in social science classes and professors writing in academic journals. A new edition (the 6th) was released in July 2009.
I can hear you now – “what a boring topic!” And true, arguing the finer points of writing style is not terribly interesting itself. The interesting part is the controversy that has erupted due to the recent elease of roughly nine pages of corrections to the guide, spread quite obnoxiously across four PDFs labeled Errors in APA Style Rules, Errors in Examples, Clarifications, and Nonsignificant Typos. With some critics demanding free reprints and others suggesting dropping APA in favor of Chicago or MLA styles, this has in turn drawn even greater scrutiny on the rules contained therein.
I think the most interesting tidbit I picked up from the various debates is this comment on Inside Higher Ed from Bill Dockery on the change from single- to double-spaces after complete sentences:
Is there experimental evidence for this “double-space” rule after periods, or are there just some social scientists who can’t shake the influence of their high school typing teachers?
Modern editorial practice demands only one space after periods because most texts are transmitted (and edited) electronically and the double letter-space after periods, etc., can introduce typographic complications. That’s been common knowledge for only the last quarter century.
(And are social science editorial boards STILL working with hardcopy submissions?)
All I have to say is: “Ouch.”
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