25 April 2017

Guilty as charged

It has been pointed out to me, probably on several occasions, that I should not type two spaces after a period.  I've been doing this since my 10th-grade typing class, so I doubt I can change a 50+-year-old habit.  Today I encountered this rant on the subject (which I typed using two spaces after periods):
The two-spaces-after-a-period construction is outmoded and has no place in modern communication.  It’s not a coincidence that many of my friends who still use two spaces work in finance and law—two decidedly old-school industries populated by people who grew up in the two-space heyday.  The practice should be eradicated for good, especially in the digital communication age, when every device has proportional fonts.  Design experts agree that using two spaces creates an unsightly amount of white space, and increases the chance you’ll have a “river” snake its way through your paragraph.  Worse, it makes a person look old and out of touch.
Here is the same text typed using one space after the periods.
The two-spaces-after-a-period construction is outmoded and has no place in modern communication. It’s not a coincidence that many of my friends who still use two spaces work in finance and law—two decidedly old-school industries populated by people who grew up in the two-space heyday. The practice should be eradicated for good, especially in the digital communication age, when every device has proportional fonts. Design experts agree that using two spaces creates an unsightly amount of white space, and increases the chance you’ll have a “river” snake its way through your paragraph. Worse, it makes a person look old and out of touch.

26 comments:

  1. that article does not say whether it is right or wrong to put two spaces after the period; it is just a rant by the author. i, for one, use two spaces. i also put spaces before and after the 'em' dash and/or the 'en' dash. it all looks so much nicer that way.

    p.s. i used two spaces throughout here. let's see if google takes them out?

    I-)

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    Replies
    1. google took them out! bad, google, bad. no, no!

      I-)

      Delete
  2. It's a relic from when writing was done on typewriters and every character took up the same amount of space regardless of size. People who learned to type at a certain time still do it, but I don't think any publisher lets you get away with it anymore. The Chicago Manual of Style says at 6.7, "One space, not two, should be used between two sentences—whether the first ends in a period, a question mark, an exclamation point, or a closing quotation mark or parenthesis."

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  3. Just for the record, the typewriter story isn't actually entirely accurate: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/two-spaces-after-a-period?page=1

    I was taught with two spaces after periods and will probably type this way forever, just because it takes too much mental time to force myself to remember to use just one space (and, if I do try, I end up with a mixture of single and double spaces depending on how much I was concentrating on format rather than content.) And, given a choice, as a reader, I prefer a wider space at the end of a sentence.

    Bottom line, I'm a grammar purist to the nth degree but even I couldn't care less about spaces and am amazed that people waste the effort of worrying about them.

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  4. I've always typed two spaces. It gives a visual cue that there's a pause in the written form. Being a speed reader, it helps me to understand when a sentence ends and that's how I was taught to type, too. Now my daughter and I had an argument several years ago because I was correcting her english paper and pointed out that she hadn't double-spaced her sentences. We got into a huge fight, that left her crying and screaming. The next day she came home with a note from her teacher saying that double-spaces were no longer correct, and I got a 'told-you-so' look and a tongue sticking out at me as she stormed away, triumphantly. Dad's are always wrong, anyway.

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  5. It doesn't matter what you type. The internet (technically HTML) won't DISPLAY multiple spaces even if you type them, unless you use a special non-breakable-space character.

    This sentence has 3 spaces between words.

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  6. Some people choose fixed width fonts.

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  7. This argument is still alive? Yes, in the days of monospaced text (ie, a typewriter) it made sense to add two spaces after a full stop. These people who argue so passionately about "rivers of text" have never dealt with "walls of text" that stem from single spaces after a full stop.

    But when it became possible to use variable width fonts, it also became possible to search and replace ".  " with ". " So why not just do that instead of carping?

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  8. This is like the brouhaha over the Oxford Comma. More time should be spend correcting pronunciation and grammar.

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    Replies
    1. My pronunciation is perfect when I read; it is when I speak that you notice my accent.

      Delete
    2. I'd think the Venn diagram showing people who struggle with pronunciation and grammar and people who argue on the internet about proper comma and space usage would show very little overlap... And to your point, the latter group devotes plenty of time instructing the former on their errors.

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  9. as a writer, the OTHER reason why i like the double space after the end of sentence punctuation is that the 'pick an appropriate end of sentence punctuation mark and then double tap' is a pause that allows me to reflect on what i had just typed, and to consider what i am about to type. the time it takes to double-tap is a revitalizing rest that allows me to reflect, refresh, and, recollect.

    I-)

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  10. As a writer, you might like to learn that you can't use "As an X" at the beginning of a clause if the subject of that clause does not also refer to X. Put like this, you're claiming that "the OTHER reason" is "a writer". Changing the opening into "To/for me as a writer" would solve the matter.

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    Replies
    1. to/for me as a writer, i rely on editors to fix those things i should have learned but never did - because i never went to writing school. and it shows! at least here.

      p.s. lesson learned here - thanks!

      I-)

      Delete
    2. No worries! And apologies for the slightly sour tone there. Long day. :)

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    3. Chuckling, because that erroneous structure, along with the misuse of "which" that is showing up more and more, irritates me just a little, because my brain has to stop and readjust from what the words actually say to what I am supposed to understand despite the misuse. (and I'm using two spaces, because that's what I was taught 40 years ago, and because it makes reading much easier for me. Given how much I read, and how much I notice the difference, I'm either saving time or braincells, and they are both valuable to me. *space* *space* :)

      Delete
  11. This has to be one of my biggest "pet peeves". I don't know how old you are, but when I took typing in junior high (50 years ago) we were always told to put ONE space after a period. I have no clue when it got switched. I have copied tutorials off the computer (highlight and paste in a word doc method) to print out and use when doing something and you would not believe how messy it looks with the two spaces! Oh well, to each they're own and I can always adjust things to my own taste.

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    Replies
    1. Their own, good grief, not enough caffeine yet to be functional!

      Delete
  12. I switched to the single space after a period with little difficulty. It made sense to me, and saves me an infinitesimal amount of time.

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  13. As someone who can experience difficulty reading, the two-space rule helps segregate the text enough to follow the flow from one sentence to the next without my eye wandering up or down a line and subsequently becoming lost in the page. With a single space (which I admittedly usually use ; it's both what I was taught and what people tell me is correct) I get lost in pages and paragraphs and spend unnecessary amounts of time trying to find my spot (or at least it appears this occurs more than not). This results in fragmentation of content, ill-content absorption, and lots of frustration.

    Learning to type with two-spaces was something I took on consciously a few years back when I realized that it aided my reading. Another typing quirk I took on was adding a space before and after colons and semi-colons, I am not aware if there is any historic precedent for this but I have noticed it from time to time reading old (old) books. The criticism from others regarding these practices is bafflingly harsh. The only other time a campaign against me has been so strongly applied at every turn was while transitioning to heathy foods and eating patterns.

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  14. I never put two spaces at the end of a sentence, because no one ever told me to. I rarely even notice when someone else does. My father forbade me from taking a typing class, because he didn't want me to become a steno or secretary. Little did he know back in the '70s that those careers would be obsolete and everyone would have to do their own typing. And that I would become a writer.

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  15. People who worry about spaces, never learned about the TAB-button -it's like a super space bar- or justified text, like in the papers. There are bigger discussions to be had!

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  16. I was born in 1980 taught myself to type around 1991, when I had my own computer and was writing stories and essays on it. I always followed the 2-spaces rule, which I *think* my middle school gifted teacher insisted on. In any case, it looks neater to me.

    I find that now I cannot break it. 1-space text looks strange. My fiancee, who is also my coauthor, wasn't raised on the 2-space rule and I'm constantly adding spaces to her contributions to our work. To keep it consistent, and to silence the nagging little voice in the back of my head that says "It's not right!" She doesn't care about spaces; she's reading the words and choosing content over format.

    I'll go to my grave a 2-spacer, and whoever says we should just eliminate it can just edit me. AFTER I'm done with a particular document, however. It's a style choice, and like the Oxford comma, it's something I won't give up.

    ~Anissa

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  17. I think there's only one way to resolve the debate: back to the old scriptio continua!

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  18. and yet some applications reinforce this habit by interpreting the double space as "put a period here and start a new sentence". Whether or not the application removes one of the spaces isnt relevant. The typing habit is reinforced. I've typed this with one space and had to correct the double space EVERY time. I'm probably a hopeless case.

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  19. Now I have to wonder if this was a regional teaching or what? My junior high typing class was in the late 60's, and my husband's several years before me, in the same school system, in a midwestern state, and neither of us was taught to use two spaces after a period. It seems to be something that came out of the AP stylebook.

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