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Similar to my previous question, I have a few sentences ending ACRONYM; word.

chktex recommends I insert intersentence spacing (ACRONYM\@; word). I can't find a decent reference to explain why an intersentence spacing should be used mid-sentence - I assume that, should I not precede a semicolon with an acronym, an intersentence spacing is used?

If intersentence spacing is the correct choice (as opposed to my naive assumption of interword spacing), my question: is this a styling issue (I should choose intersentence because that's the way the semicolons not preceded by acronyms will be spaced), or is one spacing more technically correct than the other?

Is there a set of English typography rules I can reference when I'm unsure why I'm doing one thing over another?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

LaTeX (following plain) defines

\def\nonfrenchspacing{\sfcode`\.3000\sfcode`\?3000\sfcode`\!3000%
  \sfcode`\:2000\sfcode`\;1500\sfcode`\,1250 }

so . ? ! get full end of sentence spacing : ; and , get progressively less space stretching applied.

I don't have any "traditional" style guides to hand, but it's unlikely they give such exact numerical factors if giving guidelines from a pre-digital age, but the general notion that the space after the punctuation is a measure of the strength of the phrase ending is fairly common I think.

So your check program is correct to suggest the use of \@ it does not force "end of sentence space" (although it is sometimes described that way for simplicity) it forces "the space associated with the following punctuation's space factor code".

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It was 19th century practice to add space after punctuation, often to an absurd degree; modern typographers are pretty unanimous in regarding it as a bad old tradition, because it tends to produce an uneven line. It was being disapproved from at least the 1940s; it being darkly hinted that it owed more to making life easy for printers than to any intrinsic merit. Thank goodness for \frenchspacing, which produces spacing that ... isn't French, but is better, and avoids the need to fret. –  Paul Stanley May 9 '12 at 23:57
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@PaulStanley Yes well there is that:-) Of course it wasn't only 19th C printers who find the space helpful, It helps TeX find breaks too (even though, as you say, some find TeX's default value of 3000 rather excessive) It is of course possible to have a middle ground and use values between 3000 and 1000 to allow some flexibility after punctuation but not quite as much as the default values inherited from plain. –  David Carlisle May 10 '12 at 0:05
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