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An Experience You Will Never Forget Essay

An Experience You Will Never Forget Essay

















































Two Spaces After a Period: Why You Should Never, Ever Do It

Two Spaces After a Period: Why You Should Never, Ever Do It

Space Invaders

Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong .

And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste.* You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you’d be wrong; every third email I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for «Dear Farhad,» my occasional tech-advice column, I’ve removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within .) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I’ve received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces. Some of my best friends are irredeemable two-spacers, too, and even my wife has been known to use an unnecessary extra space every now and then (though she points out that she does so only when writing to other two-spacers, just to make them happy).

A Slate Plus Special Feature:

Never, ever use two spaces after a period: Listen to Mike Vuolo read Farhad Majoo’s classic takedown of an enduring typographic sin.

What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the «correct» number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces. Some people admitted to slipping sometimes and using a single space—but when writing something formal, they were always careful to use two. Others explained they mostly used a single space but felt guilty for violating the two-space «rule.» Still others said they used two spaces all the time, and they were thrilled to be so proper. When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. «Who says two spaces is wrong?» they wanted to know.

Typographers, that’s who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences. That convention was not arrived at casually. James Felici, author of the The Complete Manual of Typography . points out that the early history of type is one of inconsistent spacing. Hundreds of years ago, some typesetters would end sentences with a double space, others would use a single space, and a few renegades would use three or four spaces. Inconsistency reigned in all facets of written communication; there were few conventions regarding spelling, punctuation, character design, and ways to add emphasis to type. But as typesetting became more widespread, its practitioners began to adopt best practices. Felici writes that typesetters in Europe began to settle on a single space around the early 20 th century. America followed soon after.

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Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style —prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.) Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren’t for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine’s shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do. (Also see the persistence of the dreaded Caps Lock key .)

The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type —that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition of proportional typesetting. in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks «loose» and uneven; there’s a lot of white space between characters and words, so it’s more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here’s the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.

Type professionals can get amusingly—if justifiably—overworked about spaces. «Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,» Ilene Strizver, who runs a typographic consulting firm The Type Studio. once wrote. «When I see two spaces I shake my head and I go, Aye yay yay ,» she told me. «I talk about ‘type crimes’ often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment. It’s a pure sign of amateur typography.» «A space signals a pause,» says David Jury, the author of About Face: Reviving The Rules of Typography . «If you get a really big pause—a big hole—in the middle of a line, the reader pauses. And you don’t want people to pause all the time. You want the text to flow.»

This readability argument is debatable. Typographers can point to no studies or any other evidence proving that single spaces improve readability. When you press them on it, they tend to cite their aesthetic sensibilities. As Jury says, «It’s so bloody ugly.»

But I actually think aesthetics are the best argument in favor of one space over two. One space is simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing. (It also requires less work, which isn’t nothing.) A page of text with two spaces between every sentence looks riddled with holes; a page of text with an ordinary space looks just as it should.

Is this arbitrary? Sure it is. But so are a lot of our conventions for writing. It’s arbitrary that we write shop instead of shoppe. or phone instead of fone. or that we use ! to emphasize a sentence rather than %. We adopted these standards because practitioners of publishing—writers, editors, typographers, and others—settled on them after decades of experience. Among their rules was that we should use one space after a period instead of two—so that’s how we should do it.

Besides, the argument in favor of two spaces isn’t any less arbitrary. Samantha Jacobs, a reading and journalism teacher at Norwood High School in Norwood, Colo. told me that she requires her students to use two spaces after a period instead of one, even though she acknowledges that style manuals no longer favor that approach. Why? Because that’s what she’s used to. «Primarily, I base the spacing on the way I learned,» she wrote me in an email glutted with extra spaces.

Several other teachers gave me the same explanation for pushing two spaces on their students. But if you think about it, that’s a pretty backward approach: The only reason today’s teachers learned to use two spaces is because their teachers were in the grip of old-school technology. We would never accept teachers pushing other outmoded ideas on kids because that’s what was popular back when they were in school. The same should go for typing. So, kids, if your teachers force you to use two spaces, send them a link to this article. Use this as your subject line: «If you type two spaces after a period, you’re doing it wrong.»

Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege

Eduardo Munoz—Reuters Princeton University campus in New Jersey.

Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color.

There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. “Check your privilege,” the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung. “Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.

I do not accuse those who “check” me and my perspective of overt racism, although the phrase, which assumes that simply because I belong to a certain ethnic group I should be judged collectively with it, toes that line. But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive. Furthermore, I condemn them for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of a meritocracy, as a myth, and for declaring that we are all governed by invisible forces (some would call them “stigmas” or “societal norms”), that our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies. Forget “you didn’t build that;” check your privilege and realize that nothing you have accomplished is real.

But they can’t be telling me that everything I’ve done with my life can be credited to the racist patriarchy holding my hand throughout my years of education and eventually guiding me into Princeton. Even that is too extreme. So to find out what they are saying, I decided to take their advice. I actually went and checked the origins of my privileged existence, to empathize with those whose underdog stories I can’t possibly comprehend. I have unearthed some examples of the privilege with which my family was blessed, and now I think I better understand those who assure me that skin color allowed my family and I to flourish today.

Perhaps it’s the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labor in the bitter cold until World War II ended. Maybe it was the privilege my grandfather had of taking on the local Rabbi’s work in that DP camp, telling him that the spiritual leader shouldn’t do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive. Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe that’s my privilege.

Or maybe it’s the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she would have died but for the Allied forces who liberated her and helped her regain her health when her weight dwindled to barely 80 pounds.

Perhaps my privilege is that those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other; that my grandfather started a humble wicker basket business with nothing but long hours, an idea, and an iron will—to paraphrase the man I never met: “I escaped Hitler. Some business troubles are going to ruin me?” Maybe my privilege is that they worked hard enough to raise four children, and to send them to Jewish day school and eventually City College.

Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued most—his wife and kids—to earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isn’t that influential. Now would you say that we’ve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped?

That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still be conquering them now.

The truth is, though, that I have been exceptionally privileged in my life, albeit not in the way any detractors would have it.
It has been my distinct privilege that my grandparents came to America. First, that there was a place at all that would take them from the ruins of Europe. And second, that such a place was one where they could legally enter, learn the language, and acclimate to a society that ultimately allowed them to flourish.

It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.

It was my privilege that my grandfather was blessed with resolve and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that he was lucky enough to come to the place where he could realize the dream of giving his children a better life than he had.

But far more important for me than his attributes was the legacy he sought to pass along, which forms the basis of what detractors call my “privilege,” but which actually should be praised as one of altruism and self-sacrifice. Those who came before us suffered for the sake of giving us a better life. When we similarly sacrifice for our descendents by caring for the planet, it’s called “environmentalism,” and is applauded. But when we do it by passing along property and a set of values, it’s called “privilege.” (And when we do it by raising questions about our crippling national debt, we’re called Tea Party radicals.) Such sacrifice of any form shouldn’t be scorned, but admired.

My exploration did yield some results. I recognize that it was my parents’ privilege and now my own that there is such a thing as an American dream which is attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant.

I am privileged that values like faith and education were passed along to me. My grandparents played an active role in my parents’ education, and some of my earliest memories included learning the Hebrew alphabet with my Dad. It’s been made clear to me that education begins in the home, and the importance of parents’ involvement with their kids’ education—from mathematics to morality—cannot be overstated. It’s not a matter of white or black, male or female or any other division which we seek, but a matter of the values we pass along, the legacy we leave, that perpetuates “privilege.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color. My appearance certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, and to assume that it does and that I should apologize for it is insulting. While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life. But that is a legacy I am proud of.

I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing.

Tal Fortgang is a freshman from New Rochelle, NY. He plans to major in either History or Politics. He can be reached at talf@princeton.edu.This piece originally appeared on The Princeton Tory .

How to Write an Essay

Throughout your academic career, you will usually be asked to write an essay. You may work on an assigned essay for class, enter an essay contest or write essays for college admissions. This article will show you the writing and revision processes for all types of essays. Then, it will explore how to write narrative, persuasive and expository essays.

Steps Edit

Part One of Five:
Writing Your Essay Edit

Research the topic. Go online, head to the library, or search an academic database or read newspapers. You may ask a reference librarian.

  • Know which sources are acceptable to your teacher.
    • Does your teacher want a certain number of primary sources and secondary sources?
    • Can you use Wikipedia? Wikipedia is often a good starting point for learning about a topic, but many teachers won’t let you cite it because they want you to find more authoritative sources.
  • Take detailed notes, keeping track of which facts come from which sources. Write down your sources in the correct citation format so that you don’t have to go back and look them up again later.
  • Never ignore facts and claims that seem to disprove your original idea or claim. A good essay writer either includes the contrary evidence and shows why such evidence is not valid or alters his or her point of view in light of the evidence.

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Analyze well-written essays. In your research you’ll probably come across really well-written (and not so well-written) arguments about your topic. Do some analysis to see what makes them work.

  • What claims does the author make?
    • Why do they sound good? Is it the logic, the sources, the writing, the structure? Is it something else?
  • What evidence does the author present?
    • Why does the evidence sound credible? How does the author present facts, and what is his/her approach to telling a story with facts?
  • Is the logic sound or faulty, and why?
    • Why is the logic sound? Does the author back up his/her claims with examples that are easy to follow?

Brainstorm your own ideas. Sure, you can use the arguments of others to back up what you want to say. However, you need to come up with your original spin on the topic to make it uniquely yours.

  • Make lists of ideas. You can also try mind mapping .
  • Take your time. Walk in your neighborhood or local park and think about your topic. Be prepared for ideas to come to you when you least expect them.

Pick your thesis statement.

  • Look at the ideas that you generated. Choose one to three of your strongest ideas that support your topic. You should be able to support these ideas with evidence from your research.
  • Write a thesis statement that summarizes the ideas that you plan to present. Essentially, let the reader know where you’re going and why.
    • A thesis statement should have a narrow focus include both your topic and what you plan to present. For example, «Although Eli Whitney’s cotton gin ushered in a new era of American prosperity, it also widened the gap in suffering for African-American slaves, who would soon be more in demand, and more exploited, than ever.»
    • A thesis statement should not ask a question, be written in first person («I»), roam off-topic or be combative.

Plan your essay . Take the thoughts that you brainstormed and assemble them into an outline. Write a topic sentence for your main ideas. Then, underneath, make bullet points and list your supporting evidence. Generally, you want three arguments or pieces of evidence to support each main idea.

  • Topic sentence: «Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made life harder on African American slaves.»
    • Ex: «The success of cotton made it harder for slaves to purchase their own freedom.»
    • Ex: «Many northern slaves were in danger of being kidnapped and brought down south to work in the cotton fields.»
    • Ex: «In 1790, before the cotton gin, slaves in America totaled about 700,000. In 1810, after the cotton gin had been adopted, slaves totaled about 1.2 million, a 70% increase.»

Write the body of your essay. You do want to think about length here; don’t write pages and pages if your teacher wants 5 paragraphs. However, you should freewrite to let your thoughts reveal themselves. You can always make them more concise later.

  • Avoid sweeping generalizations. Statements such as «______ is the most important problem facing the world today,» can cause your reader to dismiss your position out of hand if he/she disagrees with you. On the other hand, «______ is a significant global problem» is more accurate.
  • Don’t use «I» statements such as «I think.» Likewise, avoid the personal pronouns «you,» «we,» «my,» «your» or «our». Simply stating your argument with supporting facts makes you sound much more authoritative. Instead of writing, «I found Frum to have a conservative bias,» tell the reader why your statement is true: «Frum displays a conservative bias when he writes. «

Come up with a compelling title and introduction . Your title and introduction make people want to read your essay. If your teacher is the audience, then of course your teacher will read the whole piece. However, if you’re submitting to an essay contest or writing an essay for college admissions, your title and introduction have to hook the reader if you want to meet your objectives.

  • Skip obvious expressions such as, «This essay is about, «The topic of this essay is» or «I will now show that».
  • Try the inverted pyramid formula. Start off with a very broad description of your topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific thesis statement. Try to use no more than 3 to 5 sentences for short essays, and no more than 1 page for longer essays.
  • Short essay example: Every year, thousands of unwanted and abused animals end up in municipal shelters. Being caged in shelters not only causes animals to suffer but also drains local government budgets. Towns and cities could prevent both animal abuse and government waste by requiring prospective pet owners to go through mandatory education before allowing them to obtain a pet. Although residents may initially resist the requirement, they will soon see that the benefits of mandatory pet owner education far outweigh the costs.»

Conclude your essay . Summarize your points and suggest ways in which your conclusion can be thought of in a larger sense.

  • Answer questions like, «What are the implications of your thesis statement being true?» «What’s the next step?» «What questions remain unanswered?»
  • Your arguments should draw your reader to a natural, logical conclusion. In a sense, you are repackaging your thesis statement in your concluding paragraph by helping the reader to remember the journey through your essay.
  • Nail the last sentence. If your title and first paragraph make the reader want to read your essay, then your last sentence makes the reader remember you. If a gymnast does a great balance beam routine but falls on the landing, then people forget the routine. Gymnasts need to «stick the landing,» and so do essay writers.

Choose a subject for your essay. You’ll be investigating a topic and presenting an argument about the topic based on evidence.

  • For example, you could write an expository essay arguing that embryonic stem cell research can lead to cures for spinal cord injuries and illnesses like Parkinson’s or diabetes.
  • Expository essays differ from persuasive essays because you aren’t stating an opinion. You’re stating facts that you can back up with research.

Select your strategy and structure . Some common strategies and structures for expository writing include:

  • Definitions. Definition essays explain the meaning of terms or concepts.
  • Classification. Classification essays organize a topic into groups starting with the most general group and narrowing down to more specific groups.
  • Compare and contrast. In this type of essay, you’ll describe either the similarities and differences (or both) between ideas or concepts.
  • Cause and effect. These essays explain how topics affect each other and how they are interdependent.
  • How-to. How-to essays explain the steps required for completing a task or a procedure with the goal of instructing the reader.

Keep your views unbiased. Expository essays aren’t about opinions. They are about drawing a conclusion based on verifiable evidence. [2] This means keeping your perspective balanced and focusing on what the facts tell you.

  • You might even find that, with new information, you’ll have to revise your essay. If you started out writing about the scarcity of information regarding global warming, but came across a bunch of scientific evidence supporting global warming, you at least have to consider revising what your essay is about.

Use the facts to tell the story. The facts will tell the story itself if you let them. Think like a journalist when writing an expository essay. If you put down all the facts like a reporter, the story should tell itself.

  • Don’t mess with structure in expository essays. In narrative essays, you can twist and turn the structure to make the essay more interesting. Be sure that your structure in expository essays is very linear, making it easier to connect the dots.

Tell your story vividly and accurately. A narrative essay recounts an incident that either you or others have experienced. In a narrative essay, you could describe a personal experience in which embryonic stem cell research could have helped you or someone you love conquer a debilitating condition.

Include all of the elements of good storytelling. You’ll need an introduction, setting, plot, characters, climax and conclusion.

  • Introduction. The beginning. How are you going to set the story up? Is there something useful or important here that gets mentioned later on?
  • Setting. Where the action takes place. What does it look like? Which words can you use to make the reader feel like they are there when they read it?
  • Plot. What happens. The meat of the story, the essential action. Why is the story worth telling?
  • Characters. Who’s in the story. What does the story tell us about the characters? What do the characters tell us about the story?
  • Climax. The suspenseful bit before anything is resolved. Are we left hanging on the edges of our seat? Do we need to know what happens next?
  • Conclusion. How everything resolves. What does the story mean in the end? How have things, people, ideas changed now that the end is revealed?

Have a clear point of view. Most narrative essays are written from the author’s point of view, but you can also consider other perspectives as long as your point of view is consistent.

  • Utilize the pronoun «I» if you are the narrator. In a narrative essay, you can use first person. However, make sure that you don’t overdo it. In all essays, you sound more authoritative if you state facts or opinions in third person.

Make a point. You’re telling a story, but the purpose of the story is to make a specific point. Introduce your main idea in your thesis statement, and make sure that all of your story elements tie back to your thesis statement.

  • What did you learn? How is your essay an exploration of the things that you learned?
  • How have you changed? How is the «you» that started the essay different from the «you» now? Related to, but different from, the «what did you learn?» question.

Choose your language carefully. You will use words to evoke emotions in your reader, so choose your words deliberately. [3]

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