January 14, 2011

"Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period."

I'm so relieved to have this in writing!
Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren't for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine's shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do.

112 comments:

Pastafarian said...

You must be fucking shitting me. I don't believe it.

Geoff Matthews said...

LAME!
2 spaces after every period is the way I was taught, and 2 spaces I'll enter until the day I die.

madAsHell said...

I had a ruler across the knuckles. Two spaces between sentences!!

q12345q6789 said...

Yeah, I was in probably the last class at my high school to teach typing on actual typewriters (I *loathed* the sound of that class) meaning computers and digital word processing (and the internet) were all already in full swing and YET even I was still taught to use two spaces (and still do occasionally). And yes I went to public school and yes they were unionized.

Jim in PA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastafarian said...

I read the article twice, and went to many of the links. This is devastating. Is nothing I've been taught correct?

How in holy hell am I going to be able to unlearn this?

Why doesn't Word autocorrect it then? Or does it? I'm on an iPad, so I can't check myself.

Kathy said...

I like two spaces.

EDH said...

After reading that obsessive, monomaniacal rant...

"Insane? Or manufacturing evidence of insanity?"

Two spaces, I think, is more aesthetically pleasing. So I shall continue.

Ann Althouse said...

"Insane? Or manufacturing evidence of insanity?"

That's how I feel reading these comments.

Don't you realize the proportion is already built into the fonts?

EDH said...

Notice, blogger comments excises the second space after a period, automatically. See.

Now that's fascism.

Pastafarian said...

You know, it appears as though the comments here all have one space after the period. There, I actually typed two. After that one, I entered 4 spaces.

Let's see how it looks.

q12345q6789 said...

"Don't you realize the proportion is already built into the fonts?"

rigid, dogmatic indoctrination trumps your "realization".

Pastafarian said...

No, Althouse, I don't realize it. I learned to type on a Smith-Corona.

Let's try that again:

Four. Spaces.

Six. Spaces.

lohwoman said...

First day on the job at the newspaper a co-worker said, "Just one space after a period. Otherwise it throws the justification off." So I relearned. Ever since, I've looked at two spaces as a waste of space.

HT said...

Meanwhile, the country that had previously been administered like a well-run European municipality has just lost its president. Could this represent a turnaround in the Arab world? We shall see.

HT said...

Aw. I put two spaces after every one of my sentences, but blogger rejected them.

Pastafarian said...

Well I'll be dipped in shit.

Blogger corrected it for me.

I wish it would correct all of the other drunken stupidness in my comments.

Seven Machos said...

Thank you. I have argued this for the longest, longest time. I do a few different kinds of writing, too, and I am always having to remember when I have to use the dreaded, stupid two spaces.

Get rid of it.

Also, just to get this off my chest: ownership is 's. It's Mr. Jones's car. Not Mr. Jones' car. The rule here is quite easy: historical figures get s'. Socrates' car. Otherwise, no. Period.

virgil xenophon said...

At age 66 I grew up on manual typewriters and the 2-space rule, but for some reason when commenting on blogs I reflexively use one space while in word-processor mode use two for formal/business/academic work.

Pastafarian said...

I must admit, I don't always follow convention.

The proper way to write 5.0 millimeters is:

5 mm

But I prefer:

5mm

...particularly in calculations where I retain the units.

But if I stick with two spaces after periods in things like email and such, where it isn't automatically corrected for me, young people, and people like Althouse, will mock me for my backwardness. They'll use terms like "Yoder" and various other slurs against the Amish.

This is a conundrum.

chickelit said...

I wrote a thesis under a Strunk-loving, Harvard-educated advisor who insisted on two spaces. Subsequent editors expressed no opinion. Lately, I have begun switching to one space for aesthetic reasons.Twitter teaches that all space is waste and so I'm comfortable with no spaces between the full stops (reader_iam are you reading this?:)

edutcher said...

I had a teacher/prof (can't remember which) who obsessed about this, so all our papers (written longhand, I might add) had to use 2 spaces. Didn't use it before, haven't used it since.

HT said...

Meanwhile, the country that had previously been administered like a well-run European municipality has just lost its president. Could this represent a turnaround in the Arab world? We shall see.

Tunisia is North Africa, not Arab. May want to use Islamic instead.

You may have a point, but, since food prices have gone through the roof there, it may be a unique situation.

Until it happens here.

Paco Wové said...

I don't know, I kind of like the two-spaces rule.  It enforces a sort of hierarchy of spacing -- within a sentance, one space; between two sentances, two spaces.  It helps to keep the words from running together.

kent said...

LAME!
2 spaces after every period is the way I was taught, and 2 spaces I'll enter until the day I die.


Moved and seconded.

Peano said...

I'm so relieved to have this in writing!

It's hardly a new wrinkle. Typographers have been teaching this ever since fonts with proportional spacing were devised. It was taught to me more than 30 years ago.

Seven Machos said...

Right now, I'd say the rule is to use two spaces when you are writing a legal brief, or an academic paper, or some such. I know that some literary agents want manuscripts with two spaces. But literary agents are just old fuddy-duddies with a lot of connections.

I remember, back in the day when email was coming into vogue, trying to convince a friend that indenting paragraphs wasn't the thing to do in an email. It was hard. I don't think I convinced him on that day, though I know he has changed since.

Paco Wové said...

People who get all panty-twisted about trivialities like this set off my inner contrarian.  Now I'm going to double-space my comments, just for the hell of it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

(Sitting as close as possible to the cyberdoor so I can make a quick exit when Farhad Manjoo opens fire.)

q12345q6789 said...

"I wish it would correct all of the other drunken stupidness in my comments."

That would be the app of the year.

HT said...

No. I'll use Arab.

Seven Machos said...

Paco -- One great brilliance of America, I have long argued, is its un-compelled ability and to throw off unnecessary shackles, and the ease we do it with. You see this most obviously in language, where useless rules dissolve when they are no longer useful.

Here we have such a rule. Why not three spaces?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Instead of Microsoft Office I do most of my writing in LATEX. The two space issue never comes up, because LATEX does all the typesetting anyway. If I do too much in LATEX my typing suffers, and if I do too much typing my LATEX suffers, so I try to keep it even and suck equally at both.

The typewriter is going to keep us screwed up for decades to come. The QWERTY keyboard layout was designed to slow typists to the speed required by the most primitive typewriters and has been obsolete for a century--but everyone has learned to type on it, so we can't throw it away.

George Grady said...

Just use LaTeX, and you don't have to worry about it. You'll have inter-sentence spaces between sentences, and inter-word spaces between words. If you want these to be the same amount of space, just turn on frenchspacing. NTTAWWT.

Pastafarian said...

Gabriel, what a coincidence -- I often comment in latex. It makes my balls sweat a bit too much, though -- I prefer the red g-string.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Ernest Hemingway used a space before and after a period.

That looks weird to me . Doesn't it?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@George Grady:

Preach it, brother. Or maybe not--if too many people start LATEX, we won't get any nerd cred anymore.

Paco Wové said...

Why not three spaces?

Three?  What are you, some kind of madman?

If you're typing in a monospace font, 2 spaces between sentances looks better, and is easier to read.  If you're typing in a proportional font, the 'extra' space pretty much gets swallowed up and has little effect on the reader.  If you're a typesetter, I assume you know how to programmatically remove extra whitespace with minimal pain (and less bitching).

C R Krieger said...

I am a two space person, and so is the iPad.  If you type along and put in two spaces it puts a period after the last word typed.

I think two just looks better.  I am working on the same section of a proposal to the Gov't that I have been working on since January of 2010.  It is in Times New Roman and 10 point font and the one space (to save space to cram in more words within the page count) makes it look ugly and harder to read.  And I have looked at it often enough to have an opinion.

And the author says this:  "men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left".  What does that really mean to those who have never seen shirts?  Goes along with his diatribe against two space.

And, to add that second space when in Blogger, after the period type an ampersand and then nbsp (as in nonbreaking space) and then a semicolon, all together 6 characters.  "&" PLUS "nbsp;"

Regards  —  Cliff

Pogo said...

Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period."

Amenorrhea.

pm317 said...

Hilarious. At my first job when I wrote my first report, I had used two spaces and my boss made me change it. She also recommended Zinsser's book 'On writing well'. Since then I have never used two spaces. But I use it here to see how it looks. Kind of gapy, don't you think, like something is missing?

Paco Wové said...

I had no idea there were so many LaTeX aficionados out there.  I still have my User's Guide & Reference Manual (Lamport 1986) next to my desk, but I find I very rarely need to make use of it for the writing I do these days... akin to using an ICBM to swat a gnat, don't you know.

pm317 said...

What happened? It looked much worse on this comment box.

Rialby said...

Paco - contrarianism

That's all Slate is or ever has been - a sandbox for elitist contrarians.

Kylos said...

Actually, blogger has very little to do with collapsing multiple spaces after a period. HTML is at fault here. Consecutive whitespace characters — line breaks, tabs and spaces are all collapsed into a single space character.

Blogger does convert line breaks into a special <p> tag, otherwise your average user would wonder why their paragraphs run together.

Marcia said...

I'm a 2-spacer by force of habit.

I acknowledge that one space is correct. But I don't think it's worth getting worked up about.

Synova said...

Publishers want monospaced fonts for manuscripts because proportional fonts mess up word count approximations. One space after a sentence looks squashed to me since I'm usually typing (and printing) in courier new. I've gone through a bunch of bs to get my computer not to "fix" stuff for me automatically.

Not that I suppose anyone really cares too much anymore, but now it's habit and I don't see any real reason to change the habit any more than tell my computer to go ahead and turn the curly-quotes back on.

But do we really do two spaces after a period because of typewriters? I had thought that having an extra space went back to hand-set and Linotype typesetting. The same with putting the spacers between the sentences themselves.

It's like punctuation or capitalization. Every now and then it becomes fashionable to want to toss the comma out or leave off the capital at the beginning of a sentence but breaking up a sentence with pauses is as important as breaking up text into sentences of varying lengths and paragraphs, short and long, to force rhythm and pace into the prose.

Those mechanical things not only make it easier to keep track of meaning (try reading something without that variance and eyes quickly blurr) but can be used to manipulate tension and emotion.

It's foolish not to use all tools available just because someone else doesn't see the point.

Skyler said...

Everyone began to type wrong? How can it be that the first typists were wrong?

The widened space is still correct. It's just some word processors are smart enough to take care of it for you. That doesn't mean the extra space is wrong.

DADvocate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DADvocate said...

I'm from the single space school.

BTW - most browsers agree. They will only show one space no matter how many spaces (I entered 10 spaces after the word "spaces" but you probably only see one) you enter unless you use the non-breaking space tag. Try it.

Seven Machos said...

The widened space is useless and stupid. It has always been useless and stupid. It is now especially useless and stupid.

Kylos said...

C R Krieger, if you'll look closely at your iPad's output when you double-tap space, it actually replaces the two spaces with a period and a single space.

DADvocate said...

I see Kylos already mentioned that.

I work with HTML everyday writing web surveys. Ever so often someone will tell me there's two spaces between words. I'll tell them "No" and for them to do a copy and paste into Word or such and see. It's always one space.

Skyler said...

Sometimes two spaces is required. Such as on naval correspondence or even legal writing.

Seven Machos said...

Two spaces is not required in legal writing. There are simply judges who are wrong.

Also, most judges don't care. It's just merely a stupid convention that people follow, in the same way we stupidly say "NOW COMES THE PLAINTIFF" in all capital letters at the beginning of a document. No need for it. At all. Nor is it a rule. But nobody wants to stand out.

murgatroyd666 said...

He uses two spaces after every period. Which—for the record—is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

"Inarguably." I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.

I think it's inarguably the mark of a fascist mentality to demand that other people conform to your way of doing things, when ultimately it doesn't fucking matter.

It would be interesting to see what a descriptivist such as Eugene Volokh would have to say about this fellow's reliance on authorities.

I can go either way on spacing.  Sometimes I use one space after a period.   More often I use two spaces.     Heck, of the spirit moves me, I might use more.     It isn't as though I'm wasting paper or electrons.

Seven Machos said...

I agree that two spaces isn't wrong. It's just stupid and useless. Personally, I'd rather be wrong than stupid and useless.

Pastafarian said...

Seven, I'm not convinced that the extra space hurts anything. It would seem to me that it would make the ends of sentences more obvious, and so make things easier to read. If you're able to see the period perfectly well even when reading fast, then I don't see how the extra space hurts you in any way.

It's like the white line along the right-hand side of the road -- if you don't like it, ignore it. But it might help to keep some people on the road.

Pastafarian said...

You know, it wasn't until the second time that I read Murgatroyd's last comment, that I even realized that he'd fiendishly used 5 or 6 spaces in there.

I didn't even notice it. I'm not sure why you find it so offensive.

Since this stuff apparently changes from time to time, maybe we should push back and get this thing changed back to two spaces.

Fellow Amishmen! Who's with me? To the ramparts!

murgatroyd666 said...

It's one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left.

Ah yes, those canonical, universal rules ...

I visited New Zealand in the mid-1980s and was amused to discover that:

* Some men's shirts and jackets had their buttons on the left.

* In bathtubs and showers, the hot tap was on the right and the cold tap was on the left.

* Telephone dials -- yes, they were still using rotary-dial telephones -- had their digits arranged in reverse order from the ones I was used to.

They drove on the left side of the road, too, but fortunately I had been warned about that.

C R Krieger said...

Kylos.  So it does.  I had never noticed that.  It realizes that people see two spaces as the distance between two sentences and then imposes its own views.  The word "fascist" has been used in this thread, which is a little strong, I think.  But Adrian Monk like would not be too strong.

Thanks.

Regards  —  Cliff

Seven Machos said...

Pasta -- If we could get to the point where it was truly a preference, fine. I would stop calling it stupid. I'd still argue it's useless.

Meanwhile, we have people who write this: I drove Mrs. Jones' awesome "coupe". And then they insist on using two spaces between sentences.

Paul Brinkley said...

Tsk. Everyone's losing sight of the real question here: after being taught two spaces for so many years, who can we sue for reparations?

Seven Machos said...

Murg -- I am told on good authority that in some places, a nod of the head means no and a shake mean yes.

You bring up a very important point. For most things, what the law or custom is actually is doesn't really matter. The important thing is that we have a law custom and that everyone knows what it is.

In the spacing case, there is a custom that has outlived its usefulness and is, in fact, adding extra and unnecessary time and energy to something most people today daily. Two spaces should go.

Angie Schultz said...

I always use two spaces, because that's how I was taught in typing class, back in the Mesozoic. I almost never see them show up in the final product -- the software always takes care of it.

...I do most of my writing in LATEX.

A few years ago I was submitting stories to SF magazines. They still want you to format your submissions old skool, as typescript. So I found a LaTeX document class that simulated monospace Courier. That always left in the extra space.

murgatroyd666 said...

In the spacing case, there is a custom that has outlived its usefulness and is, in fact, adding extra and unnecessary time and energy to something most people today daily.

I'd say that the custom that's outlived its usefulness is enforcement of an arbitrary rule that makes no difference to the meaning of a sentence.  I use spacing that looks best to me, based on the appearance of the typeface, on the legibility of the text, and on my mood when I'm writing.

There are seemingly arbitrary conventions in text that do matter, because using or ignoring the convention can alter the meaning of a sentence.  One such is the terminal comma.  The classic case for the terminal comma is the sentence "I'd like to dedicate this book to the people who have had the greatest influence on my life: my parents, Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand."

People who first learned British English or Programming English punctuation usually think it's absurd to put a period within quote marks when it isn't part of the quote.  Programmers who learned "proper" American English have to be retrained to violate the American convention when they're writing code or instruction manuals.

Seven Machos said...

I love the serial comma.

q12345q6789 said...

"I love the serial comma."
Really? Who gives a f**k about an Oxford Comma?

(I fell willingly into that trap,
Vampire Weekend fan that I am.)

Quaestor said...

I wish I had had Fanjoo's article to wave under my advisor's generous nose when he rejected my thesis proposal for not having two spaces after the period. I got such an upbraiding. "How could you not know that, it's absolutely standard usage" he sputtered incredulously.

After that I added the extra space religiously, until MS Word's grammar check began to hound me about it with equal devotion. (It was the Office 95 generation, methinks) I also adopted the Oxford comma consistently about the same time the two space rule was hammered home, but so far Word likes my commas, even my occasional Shatnerized punctuation, so I'll probably persist with that style.

BTW, before Fanjoo went into high dudgeon mode over the one v. two space panty wad, he should have purged his own eyes of beams. He embedded a superfluous space after the last period in his fifth paragraph which caused an irregular line spacing.

JAL said...

I am a two spacer, even though blogger and other computer word processors "fix" it for me. Without asking.

The reason? Besides being "trained" that way (you would not believe what an awful type-r I am[I was never a "typist"]), it makes it easier to visually track the sentences and it gives another signal that the idea, or part of the idea represented in the sentence is stopping.

I read very fast but still find a page visually makes more sense when there is a sense that there are pieces to the communication. Also means I don't have to "look" for the periods. ("Full stops.")

I am flexible, and don't lose any sleep over it. I just do it because it makes sense to me.

wv swintatra

murgatroyd666 said...

    Speaking of conventions, I notice that Manjoo ignores the time-honored, universal convention of beginning the text of a paragraph with four spaces.  Instead he employs the barbaric, illegitimate style of inserting a blank line between blocks of left-justified text.
    The illiterate fool!  Hasn't he ever read any books?
    What sort of man would do such a thing?  What's the world coming to?
    Word verification: "readul" ...

John Lynch said...

Whatever. Tell it to publishers.

It's like the QWERTY keyboard- it's inefficient but everyone already learned how to type so changing it would cause too many problems.

For that matter, the English language is a mess, too.

So what?

Kirk Parker said...

What Kylos said, except for the "at fault" part, which makes it sound like a bad thing when it's not.

Quaestor said...

Fanjoo, Manjoo... who the fuck cares?
(damned furriner)

The guy's is just angling to be the bearded Shavian crank of his times. The one space two space brouhaha is about as important as which end of the egg to crack. It's like shooting ghoti in a barrel.

wv: cordumb - a fatal RAM error

Seven Machos said...

Cue Andy Rooney voice: Is it one space? Or is it two spaces? These kids today...

kimsch said...

I was taught 2 spaces in typing class (not keyboarding). We also did lovely portraits of Abe Lincoln and other "mystery" pictures by following the directions: 3 spaces, 2 x's, 9 spaces, 4 l's, etc...

Years ago I retrained myself to use one space, probably around the time I stopped using typewriters completely.

vw: denium

BJM said...

They'll have to pry two spaces out from under my cold dead fingers.

@Pasta

Word 2007/10 does autocorrect or flag it, depends how you set up your templates and rules.

BJM said...

@Questor

Dude, you crack an egg on the side. One quick whack on the counter and the shell divides cleanly into two halves.

wv= presto - I shit you not.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am a one space guy, and both my boss and my office manager/para-legal are two-spacers.

I have a word macro that removes extraneous spaces. She (the office manager/paralegal) hates it, but my boss doesn't know enough about computers to turn on the right options to see how many spaces I have. But, then, that is why he is a two-space guy. And, so he is going on the technology committee at our law firm. Next thing, two spaces will be mandatory for several hundred of us.

For him, I blame learning on a typewriter, and then getting on law review. I wouldn't be surprised if law reviews were still mandating two spaces. After all, that is how they have always done it, and so that is how it will always be.

Chip Ahoy said...

These   things you're calling    typewriters  .     Please tell      me more about   them    .

Quaestor said...

@BJM

Dude, you completely missed my literary reference(s)!

Bender said...

Do lefties have to be tyrants about everything?

I never have understood the appeal of being a language fascist and grammar Nazi.

To hell with English teachers, to hell with stylebooks, to hell with the damned elitist Bluebook. Language is a dynamic thing -- it grows and expands and contracts and changes.

Bender said...

The rule here is quite easy . . .

No, the rule here is quite easy -- it's a free country, do whatever the hell you want. If you accurately convey and communicate your idea to the reader, then you have done it right. Period.

bagoh20 said...

I suggest that when you get to a period, just stop writing.

Quaestor said...

@Chip Ahoy

Typewriters - the infernal machines used by Lucifer to create bureaucracy.

wv: antetio - the thing that arrives before your Hispanic uncle

bagoh20 said...

"antetio ..."

Ha!

T J Sawyer said...

I'm so happy to read this!

I have been telling people for years that Web Browsers don't render multiple spaces correctly. Now I can just tell them that they have been typing incorrectly since high school.

It appears to me that typographers were unable to get what they wanted through the legislature. That is, the typing teachers wouldn't pass their laws. So they took an administrative solution. They took control of the web browsers and refused to honor any request for multiple spaces without special permission (ampersand nbsp).

Even though I know this, I just can't get my thumb to quit going "tap tap" at the end of every sentence.

Deb said...

He's so worried about one vs two spaces after a period when the real threat to modern civilization is the improper use of the apostrophe.

wv: enjuddly

traditionalguy said...

Rules, rules and more rules. What is this world coming to? There are traffic lanes wide enough for large trucks...and while using the digital device I can wander between the lines in my smaller sedan. You ruler types probably demand that every driver has to go straight down the middle.

rhhardin said...

Look at any *.txt file. It's monospace.

The comment box is monospace, for that matter.

The underlying computer format is monospace.

What's atop that is done by experts, so it's ephemeral and variable, a creature of high fashion.

Naturally they want everybody to fall into line, but tomorrow it will all change again with new experts.

Clyde said...

I learned to type in 1975 on a manual typewriter. I was taught to use two spaces at the end of every sentence. I still do.

Bob_R said...

Yep, another LaTeX user here. I type two spaces after a period (like I just did) because I learned that way, and I never knew that even knew that the correct "rule" for proportional fonts was to type only one space. I can't imagine I will change because a lot of my writing is either (1) in Courier (e.g. right now) where the double space looks better, or (2) in LaTeX where the double space is ignored. The only place the single space makes sense and matters is in programs that are only fit for writing bullshit like Word or email. When you are writing bullshit it doesn't matter how it is typeset.

mrs whatsit said...

I was taught to use two spaces after the period in high school typing class, and internalized it. Fast forward to the telecommuting age: I went to work for an online publisher who insisted on one space after the period. OK, internalized that rule. Left that job and went to work in a new job: two spaces required. Got that rule re-internalized. Now what???

mrs whatsit said...

Dammit. I carefully put two spaces after all my two-space sentences, one space after all my one-space sentences, and about five spaces before the "Now what?" in that comment, and Blogger changed them all to one boring space -- thus ruining the whole point of the comment.

Is there no liberty left in life even to punctuate as one pleases?

Tregonsee said...

I learned to type in the early 1960s, two spaces following a period mandatory. That is not likely to change. However, on the very rare occasions that I send something in to be published, my last step is to do a global replacement of a period-double space with a period-single space. Takes about 10 seconds, mostly my typing. Makes no real difference since all the publishing packages do this automatically, but makes a good impression on the editor.

campy said...

Tsk. Everyone's losing sight of the real question here: after being taught two spaces for so many years, who can we sue for reparations?

Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and John Boehner.

Everything's their fault.

Henry said...

Designers know that the first thing you do with third-party content (Word) files is a simple search and replace -- search for two spaces, replace with one.

Just don't accidentally search for two spaces and replace with zero.

MarkD said...

It's two spaces for readability. I loathe software that frustrates my intent. Your brain processes information in chunks. The two spaces are easier to pick up quickly.

I have an old edition of A Japanese Reader. The book begins by teaching hiragana, a phonetic alphabet. The example sentences havenospacesbetweenthewords. You know the English words, so you can puzzle that out. What does nospac mean? I can't find it in the dictionary.

Yes, I learned typing on a typewriter. It's two spaces.

Shanna said...

Damn. How can they go and say everything I was taught is wrong!

(I also think it looks better with two spaces)

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

"....men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left."


No,no,no, It's so you can unbutton each other at the same time.

JohnL said...

What my colleague Dan Hallahan and I found bordering on odd was that the editors at the American Psychological Association suggested it was O.K. for authors to insert the extra space after sentence-ending punctuation. We called 'em on this over at SpaceWaste.

Of course, the typesetting houses the APA employs can simply run a find-and-replace through the manuscripts to excise the excesses. But doesn't it seem goofy to have authors insert them in the first place? If people used monospace fonts these days, perhaps it might make a little more difference, but barely.

elcrain said...

Silly and pointless Slate article. (You can leave as many spaces as you want when you enter text, and your word processor will fix it. No space is wasted, no bogus aesthetic sensibilities offended, no typesetters' knickers twisted.) The piece is either a joke or yet another attempt to deflect attention from the left's terrible, horrible, no good, very embarrassing week.

I must agree about QWERTY, however. It's downright abusive, and I wish future generations could be spared the horror of it. Five years ago I retrained myself to the Dvorak keyboard following hand surgery. It's an easy setting change in Windows and probably most other operating systems, and there are Dvorak tutorials on the web. It took a year to make the switch, during which my nervous system was completely shorted out, but worth it.

Alcuria said...

Pastafarian @ 1/14/11 9:32 PM

You must be fucking shitting me. I don't believe it.

I'm afraid so. Just submitted an article to a journal that uses CMS. I spent a significant amount of time checking things like number of spaces after a period, no use of passive voice, etc. A major pain.

Progressively Defensive said...

They'll have to take my two-spacing after the end of sentence keypad out of my cold dead hand ...

two-spacing forever, it's on fascists, long live the revolution. That's two. That's two more. Ha.

Phil 3:14 said...

I reject your progressive single-spacism. Our overuse of such scarce resources as paper, bits and bandwidth is bequeathing to our children and our children's children a literary debt they cannot repay.

The minuscule period cannot by itself define the totality of thought contained in a sentence. Without the pause that the second space supplies the reader's mind is jammed with a torrent of information, leading to confused understanding, inappropriate assignment of cause and effect and ultimately to socialistic conviction.

Note the comma. Its size is greater than the period and yet it is only expected to contain the fraction of a concept we call a phrase. Can we expect so much more from the period?

If we allow such grammatical radicalism we will see an explosion of other punctuation perversion: the union of unrelated phrases joined only by a semi-colon; the freedom of periods to unashamedly stand outside the end quotation marks; the unnatural use of the hyphen when a comma will do.

Maybe the uneducated masses have surcame to the failed ideology of singe-spacism but I for one standly boldly and firmly as an exclamation point and declare

ENOUGH!

cokaygne said...

Interesting. First time I've ever seen this.

Like it or not, one of the major reasons for the dominance of English in the world (US and UK imperialism is THE major reason) is its flexibility. Unlike several other languages English has no Academy of retired professors deciding what is and what is not English. English is what people say it is. If everyone uses 2 spaces after a period, then 2 spaces it is. Period.

Unfortunately I react to stuff in Slate the way liberals and the media react to Sarah Palin. Even when Slate is right it is wrong. Slate articles always carry a whiff of snarky superiority that makes it hard for me to get anything out of it. They have a couple of fine writers - Applebaum, Hitch, Shafer, and the architect critic whose name starts with R and includes a lot of consonants.

WV: flang - a Texas word for adultery.

Teri said...

On my BlackBerry, if I type two spaces it puts in a period and one space and capitalizes the next letter for me. Useful for both sentences and "Mr. Jones" and "Dr. Smith."

So my old habit is vindicated.


WV: perad=A perad ends a sentence

Peano said...

Unlike several other languages English has no Academy of retired professors deciding what is and what is not English. English is what people say it is. If everyone uses 2 spaces after a period, then 2 spaces it is. Period.

Um, this isn't about English or any other language. It's about typography.

knox said...

And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do.

Boy, is this is ever the truth. I often have to do a "find and replace" for double-spaces to eliminate them all from a document or layout.

Blair said...

The rules are what we make them. If we were living in Roman times, THENTHEYWOULDVSENOSPACESATALL.

Personally, I prefer how a double-spaced manuscript looks to the eye. It is easier to read. Simple as that. A single space after a period makes things look too cluttered.

jamboree said...

No we don't. I changed the minute I got a GUI computer way back in 1986 or so when I was still in high school. I had already learned on a typewriter as well as used an old pre-GUI Apple of some kind.

It just seemed obvious that it was old school when the fonts came into play. I remember thinking about it and immediately deciding not to ever do it again.

jamboree said...

Just remembered why it was so obvious - because with a typewriter you indented at the beginning of a paragraph, but with any computer, even the earliest, you didn't -double spaces were like that.

Soon I believe it will be standard to say "u" for "you" and "ur" for "you're" and "u r" for "you are" - heh.

It's very annoying that Prince was ahead of the game.

KAYContinental said...

In ENGLISH (maybe not in American English) we always, always, always put two spaces after a full stop.
That is what I was taught at Grammar School, and that is what I teach all my students.
Susie Kay
KAYContinental English Direct