Search TXNP
txnp temp ad

< More How to's

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Share: facebooktwitterdigg

Ahern 14.2 - The War Against Indents
Tom Ahern

September, 2013

In defense of the endangered indent

------

 

Will it go the way of the dodo? (Large flightless bird? Last seen in the 17th century?)

 

Will today's paragraph indent - decent, blue-collar, undemonstrative - disappear from direct-mail appeal letters in America ... gunned down by the ignorant?

 

It could happen, I am sorry to say. 

 

See below.

 

Stay alert. 

 

Ellen emailed her question

 

Ellen M. is a donor, a community activist. I like her.

 

Local nonprofits want her on their boards. She can write a good direct mail appeal.

 

And yet ... Ellen M. has a nemesis: a fellow board member who simply, defiantly, and, if need be, patronizinglyREFUSES to put his name on - or approve - any direct mail appeal ... if that letter uses indented paragraphs.

 

Now, I know you're wondering: Boards do governance; when did they get into letter formatting, too? 

 

Well, this is real life. Boards get into all sorts of things where they have no business. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That was originally written about volunteer boards.

 

This guy ... and isn't it usually a guy? ... he's an engineer. Or a lawyer. Or a captain of industry.  That type.

 

"I don't like indents," he proclaims, his canines shining with wet heat. "Putting a double-space between paragraphs is plenty," he growls. (And, in truth, he's half-right.)

 

To him, indents are a matter of taste. And a matter sosmall that, even were he by some unlikely event to be wrong, well ... where's the harm?

 

I have relatives like this. You do, too, I bet.

 

"Is there science?" Ellen prayed  

 

Ellen hoped there would be some laboratory results somewhere that she could use to beat this mulish guy into submission. 

 

Not to my knowledge.

 

That lack could, I suspect, be because a competent researcher (Poynter, say; see sidebar item) wouldn't think to ask such a pointless question.

 

"Of course you indent paragraphs!" printed-page scientists would thunder. "Indents aren't eye candy. They're rungs in a ladder, stepping the reader down the page."

 

Our brains use indents in "pattern recognition." Pattern recognition is important, to keep reading speedy.

 

"He has the evidence right in front of him," I wrote Ellen M., "every time he reads a professionally produced newspaper (indented), a book (indented), or a magazine (indented). His brain, like mine and yours, is now highly trained to use indents as a 'reading crutch,' to plow through material faster."

 

But try telling some people anything they don't believe.

 

Visit Tom Ahern at www.ahercomm.com



rss 

Your TXNP Weekly E-Newsletter is made possible by the generosity of:

FROST in many Texas cities
THE SID RICHARDSON FOUNDATION in Fort Worth


TXNP Professional Members Are Dedicated to Texas and Texans.

Aurora Grants & Consulting |Dawson Murray Teague Communications | ELITE Research | FOR THE PHILANTHROPIST | Graystone Consulting | J A Churchill Associates | John F. Lewis PC | McConnell & Jones LLC



Sign up for your personal TXNP E-Newsletter

at-t Meadows Foundation express news HOBLITZELLE FOUNDATION v greenly zachry foundation w b h b bank of america southwest airlines Sid W. Richardson Foundation forst