The changing rules of typography
Two spaces after a period. Period! OK…maybe not anymore. The first time I was told to break this rule was about 15 years ago in an office entering bibliographies into a database. The office computer guy informed us the proprietary database didn’t like double spaces, and added that one space would be the new rule in the computer age.
No more underlining! Never in a printed document, according to the typographyforlawyers.com blog. Wayne Scheiss concurs that for legal writing underlining is out, italics are in, despite the Bluebook’s delay in catching up.
Quotation marks are yet another typographical element computers have upended. From the ambidextrous “dumb” quotes we’ve used since the days of typewriters to the curled “smart” quotes that Word almost always gets right, typography has come a long way.
The translator of course has more constraints in terms of typography than does the writer. The main one being the original. Slavishly copying the bold, italics, underlines, caps, etc., of the source document — even if the original drafter was completely careless, or the file 50-years old — is often the rule.
But when should we override the conventions of the original? I mean it is in a different language. We’re obviously not going to follow the Spanish question marks, or the French quotation marks. So why italics, bold and underline? Are we creating a look-alike document or a counterpart document?