Some things we do are important and can have a real impact on real people scattered around the world. Those are the kinds of things you don’t mind spending hours working to perfect. Ensuring that there are the correct number of spaces following the various kinds of punctuation doesn’t generally fall into that category. Sure, formatting and general “prettiness” of a document are important insofar as you want it to be put together enough that people take your product seriously, but somehow I don’t think it’s important enough that we need to spend 20 or 30 man-hours making sure that everything in a 75 page document that no one outside these four walls will ever lay eyes on is “just so.” Then again, I have been wrong, or perhaps only misguided, before.
Look, I’m all for providing the best product possible, but I’m also a believer in the law of diminishing returns. There comes a point where it just isn’t cost effective to keep tweaking something around the margins. We all have personal pet peeves and certain ways we like to do things, but we’ve now officially letting perfection stand in the way of good enough to its illogical extreme. But hey, I’m not the guy signing the checks or deciding who works on what and for how long, so as long as the direct deposit doesn’t start bouncing, I’ll sit here plugging away at whatever someone tells me is the day’s priority. Today, like yesterday, it seems that that priority is word spacing and paragraph alignment. Don’t ask me why that is, but I’ll keep plugging away at it until someone tells me to shuffle on to something else.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.