Define double spacing

I just spent far too long with someone at the graduate office trying to get a concrete understanding of how they define double spacing. I tried my best to explain that I cannot just put an extra »line« between each line of my document.

All information I have been able to obtain elsewhere seems to indicate that what they really want, but do not seem to know it, is one and a one-half line spacing. That is in LaTeX you would set \baselinestretch to 1.5. I am almost certain that this is what I should be doing, but the woman seemed to think that I wanted there to be twice as much space between baselines.

I tried to take the approach of getting concrete and asking that if I used a 10pt font, what should the measurement be between the bottom of one line and the next. However, to my surprise the woman I spoke with claimed that they do not actually measure this, they just look at it and »know«.

So we agreed that I would just fax her a sample and she would let me know whether it looked correct.

Surprisingly, the definition of double spacing is something that the Chicago Manual of Style does not address.

10 Comments »

  1. Chung-chieh Shan said,

    November 9, 2007 @ 5:37 pm

    I had the same experience at Harvard: the definition of double spacing is operationalized by a lady who works in the library system. She was willing to receive PDFs by email, not just samples by fax, though.

  2. Set Implicit Arguments said,

    November 10, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

    Can’t you just look at somebody else’s dissertation and go off of that?

  3. washburn said,

    November 12, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

    She was willing to receive PDFs by email, not just samples by fax, though.

    I imagine that may actually be an option, but at the time I did not think to press the issue. I am not really sure why people still want to use faxes anymore; I am hard pressed to believe there is someone that has a fax machine that does not have an e-mail address.

  4. washburn said,

    November 12, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    Can’t you just look at somebody else’s dissertation and go off of that?

    Yes and no. I did actually look at one dissertation by a former student in my department and they appeared to be using a \baselinestretch of 2, but the template the department distributes (but makes no guarantees of its correctness) uses 1.5, and another student in my department that recently graduated said he used 1.5.

    So I am starting to suspect that as long as it is not single spaced, they will interpret the document as being double spaced.

  5. Joshua Dunfield said,

    November 14, 2007 @ 12:27 am

    “I am not really sure why people still want to use faxes anymore; I am hard pressed to believe there is someone that has a fax machine that does not have an e-mail address.”

    A lot of people think that faxed signatures are legally valid and scanned signatures aren’t*, which obviously isn’t the issue here, but does explain why people sometimes want stuff faxed. And there’s always bureaucratic inertia.

    * What’s especially funny is that there are a number of subscription-fee-based e-mail/fax gateways that will happily turn your “non-legal” scan into a “legal” fax (and vice versa)…

  6. washburn said,

    November 15, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

    A lot of people think that faxed signatures are legally valid and scanned signatures aren’t*, which obviously isn’t the issue here, but does explain why people sometimes want stuff faxed. And there’s always bureaucratic inertia.

    And I suppose fax machines are slightly less scary to the technically disinclined. If you can work a phone and work a copier, you can probably handle a fax machine. Though, it seems like it would be a great idea to have networked fax machines then.

    Of course, that would lead to vast abouts of faxed spam. Which would seem like it should already be a problem with long distance being cheap as it is, but I expect the issue is that the existing laws deal much more harshly/effectively with fax spam than e-mail spam. I suppose it also harder for your spam botnet to go undetected if you try using the system’s fax/modem.

  7. ∃xistential Type » Absolutely done said,

    November 23, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

    […] far as double spacing goes, I went with a baselinestretch of 1.5 as one of my colleagues said that he did so and it […]

  8. bob said,

    February 4, 2008 @ 6:10 pm

    spacing twice

  9. washburn said,

    February 4, 2008 @ 6:53 pm

    @bob: Nope. Empirical evidence shows that they accept one and half spacing as double spacing.

  10. Wilson said,

    November 2, 2009 @ 3:04 am

    Hallelujah!!! I have been trying to reconcile this issue for a year or two (or maybe one and a half?). I guess I am not crazy or dumb after all, thinking that double would mean two, and not one and a half. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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