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What I Learned Today

This constitutes my first official rant on LJ, so please be gentle with me. (I may need lots of cuddling afterwards.) Needless to say, it concerns one of the burning issues of our time.

Through a very odd sequence of URL clicks, I found The Drabble Verifier. It's a word counter from the context of whether or not a piece of input text is a drabble.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking: MS Word has a word count function, so why would I need this? Check.

But because I am obsessive (or compulsive or anal or whatever), I took my most recent T/C drabble and threw it in. The response came back that my story was NOT a drabble as it contained 101 words! WTF? Word said it had 100. I checked Word again; still said 100. Argh! I work very hard to ensure that my drabbles are, indeed, drabbles: 100 words, no more, no less. Needless to say, I was not amused.

So (and here's the really geeky part of the story), I replaced all spaces with paragraph returns and then pasted the entire text into Excel to see how many rows I'd wind up with. (Yes, I did. Shut up.) Guess how many? 100! Boy did I feel vindicated!

UNTIL...I scrolled down the list and found what the discrepancy was. There on one of the rows, big as life, were two words strung together with an ellipsis.

Word counts "Word...does...not...recognize...the...ellipsis...as...a...break...between...words" as one word! I can see the hyphen being looked on as a connector ("self-inflicted," for example). However, the ellipsis? Come on!

Thank goodness I had an "all" in installment 6 that was expendable! It is now in neat, official drabble-size form. *whew* Crisis averted. ;)

I know on a scale of 1 to 10, this ranks approximately -1,000. But I felt compelled to share.

You may all go back to your own lives now. /rant *feels all tingly*

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( 18 thoughts — Share a thought )
skyblue_reverie
Feb. 24th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Hee hee! Mildest. Rant. Evar. Adorable, though.

I don't do this for word count purposes, but I leave a space after an ellipse. Like... so. I've actually had this discussion with my beta and another LJ friend (yes, there are people as obsessive about this stuff as you are :P) and we came to the conclusion that it's proper to use no space, to use a space both before and after, or to use a space after an ellipse. All three are accepted usages. Anyway, just to help you avoid a similar crisis in future, you might want to use a space. :D

*cuddles you lots*
msliz4857
Feb. 24th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)
I rated it as a rant because it was just a long rambling oration about something completely inconsequential. It may have sounded mild, but really, you should have seen my hair sticking out on end and my arms flailing and the saliva drooling down my chin.

I've been a formatting/grammar/style nazi for years. By nature I'm a perfectionist and very detail oriented (yeah, you bet I'm fun at parties!); by profession, I've done copy editing and proofreading for a few published journals. It's interesting how various style guides contradict each other. I think you personally tend to find one you like and stick with it.

I think I might be overcome were I to use a space after an ellipsis, so I believe that for drabbles, I shall banish said punctuation and instead use the em dash. Mmmmmmm—em dash. (Yes, I checked: Word recognizes that as a break. *g*)

My next rant may have to be about double spacing between sentences. People, people! That was only necessary with typewriters (and fixed-space fonts on PCs).

*curls up in your cuddle and hugs you back*
skyblue_reverie
Feb. 25th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC)
By nature I'm a perfectionist and very detail oriented

Hmm, why does this sound familiar? :p Yay for anal retentive perfectionism! Y'know, I don't even use style guides, but I've seen all three uses in what I'd consider reputable printed sources (books, news magazines, etc.) so I think all three are okay, but I totally agree that we each find the one we like and stick with it.

Em dashes are great, but they don't have the same connotation as an ellipse. (And here's where I confess that instead of an em dash I use a space hyphen space. It's odd; it's bizarre; I have no idea where I picked it up, but I CANNOT STOP USING IT. No really, I've tried.) Anyway, each piece of punctuation has its place and can't be replaced by something else. So I beg you not to banish the ellipse! If you can't stand a space after an ellipse, then maybe just use the drabble counter instead of word's counting feature so you won't have another unpleasant surprise. :D

My next rant may have to be about double spacing between sentences. People, people! That was only necessary with typewriters (and fixed-space fonts on PCs)

Ack! *hides* I do that! Livejournal takes out extra spaces between sentences when you post, whether in a comment or in an entry, so my sin is not too obvious, but if you check my emails you'll find I always use two spaces after a sentence. Again, I can't NOT do it. In my defense, I did learn touch typing on an actual typewriter in the seventh grade, lo these many years ago, and my thumb just automatically hits the space bar twice after a sentence. It is completely unconscious and again, I can't stop, so I've just learned to live with it. But yes, my fellow grammar/formatting/style nazi friends make fun of me for it. (rivers_bend, I'm looking at you!)

I hope you're not going to now cast me into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, now that I've confessed my formatting sins. :)

msliz4857
Feb. 26th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
So I beg you not to banish the ellipse! If you can't stand a space after an ellipse, then maybe just use the drabble counter
I shall take your suggestion under adviselment. :D

I hope you're not going to now cast me into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, now that I've confessed my formatting sins.
For you and you alone I shall make special allowances, because you are my fellow SMAK-fairy, so I forgive you all. Double-space away, my dear! *mwah!*
cicerothewriter
Feb. 24th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
As far as rants go, that was a very informative one. I had never known that about Word.

Btw, I'm loving the Tony & Control drabbles! I'm sorry I just haven't been around as much as I should to enjoy them.
msliz4857
Feb. 24th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
Hey, I'm all about teh learning. ;)

Thanks for your wonderful words; glad you're enjoying the series. I've gotten some interesting ideas for future eps, so I'll keep writing!
zekkass
Feb. 24th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
Hoom. Makes me worry over my stories, as I use Word all the time...

Either way, thank you for the information!
msliz4857
Feb. 24th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
I hate imprecision. And Word is just wrong!

You're most welcome. I'm glad I could provide a service. :)
derien
Feb. 24th, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)
You shouldn't actually have the ellipse and then the next word without a space between the last dot and the next word, anyway.
msliz4857
Feb. 25th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
Funny, I learned that there are no spaces, but I'll be blowed if I can find any reference to it now. See, now I've learned something else today! Thanks!
derien
Feb. 25th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
Hm. :/ *is perplexed* I wonder if I can find a reference, because maybe you're right.
derien
Feb. 25th, 2007 01:39 am (UTC)
Okay, found references...
I didn't see anything about using three dots as a pause in Strunk and White, the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" or "A Manual of Style."

There's ellipses, which are for omitting words. To use those you have to have a space before each dot and after the last dot. I was thinking at first that wasn't quite what you wanted, but Eor argues that it is, because you're implying that the thought doesn't really get completed the way the speaker started out. So if that's what you want, I was wrong, too! :)

However, you are correct with reference to dashes:
MLA says: "Dashes make a sharper break than a comma. To indicate a dash, use two hyphens, with no space before, between or after."

And "Manual of Style" says you can use either one or two dashes, but makes it clear that they indicate faltering speech (quick, inturupting oneself) rather than slow trailing off. Damn, this is getting annoying. I can't find anything. All these reference books have to do with writing papers rather than stories.

I thought there was a space after a dash, also, but there is not, apparently!
derien
Feb. 25th, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
Re: Okay, found references...
Can you tell I went all over the place back and forth while I was writing that reply?
msliz4857
Feb. 26th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
Re: Okay, found references...
LOL! Yes, I can! Excellent research, my dear! :)
elenar
Feb. 24th, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)
I had no idea that Word did that. Thanks for the info, I’ll have to add to the list of things Word doesn’t get right. But, I’m not really surprised since there are so many grammatical and spelling things that Word always has problems with.
msliz4857
Feb. 25th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
Heh. They're not bugs, they're features. Just remember that. ;)
daasgrrl
Feb. 25th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
You made me LOL. On the other hand, I really do sympathize!

EVEN WORD LIES!
msliz4857
Feb. 25th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
Yay! for making people LOL! :)

Hee! Everybody...well, you know.
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