January 13, 2013

"Exactly two years ago, Farhad Manjoo ranted against people who still type two spaces after a period."

"To this day, people are still talking about the article. And some of them make a point to leave two spaces after all of their periods. In honor of the piece's anniversary, we are reprinting the piece below."

I linked to it then, and I'm linking to it again.

Now, could everyone please stop?

73 comments:

Mike said...

Am I the only person who likes two spaces because it makes paragraphs easier for me to read?

Hagar said...

Not quite right. Two spaces if the preceding period mark is for an abbreviation.

Bob Ellison said...

That's a weird and knowledge-impoverished rant. Like many, I was taught in typing class to use two spaces after a period, an exclamation point, a question mark, or a colon. It becomes a habit.

It also renders text more readable when using a fixed-space typeface like Courier.

Fritz said...

It's so hard for those of us who learned on actual typewriters.

Unknown said...

If I use 2 spaces, auto-correct automatically puts in the period on my iPhone.

Bob Ellison said...

Also, did Farhad Manjoo not notice that parsers are well-aware of the two-space convention? The blogger.com comment engine converts them to single spaces. So do most phones and almost everything else I type on. Google deletes all leading and trailing spaces. This is not rocket science.

Beldar said...

I am consistent: Two spaces in copy designed primarily for hard-copy (or for reading in the exact same format as a hard-copy, like a .pdf file). One space in copy designed primarily for online use, like blog posts and comments and emails.

Aesthetically two spaces wins. HTML makes it impractical to maintain that aesthetic value, but it doesn't mean there is no value.

Bob Ellison said...

Well, so long as I'm being pedantic and persnickety, I should note that I should have typed "well aware" without the hyphen.

Beldar said...

@ Hagar: Did you get that backwards? As taught in traditional typewriting classes, two spaces followed a sentence-ending period, or following a colon, but only one space after a period that was used to indicate an abbreviation, or for a period that's part of an ellipsis.

And don't get me started on em-dashes, en-dashes, hyphens, and their spacing!

Beldar said...

Kudos to Mr. Ellison, whose list above (1/13/13 3:07 PM) is more comprehensive than mine was, and he's correct: Two spaces also after a sentence-ending question mark or exclamation point.

Does this remind anyone, slightly, of Rathergate?

Rob said...

Furthermore, Manjoo neglects to mention that use of double spaces results in many lines beginning with a space, because of the operation of automatic linefeeds in word processing programs and computerized text entry mechanisms such as these comments.

Kylos said...

Bob, as Beldar noted, it's not just Blogger but all HTML pages on the web. HTML collapses all adjacent spaces into a single space.  In order to get more than one adjacent space to appear in HTML you have to use the entity  

Kylos said...

Unknown, if you weren't aware your phone is actually converting the double space into a single space when you type.

Bob Ellison said...

Interesting point, Kylos. Thanks for the tip.

Rob said "Furthermore, Manjoo neglects to mention that use of double spaces results in many lines beginning with a space, because of the operation of automatic linefeeds in word processing programs and computerized text entry mechanisms such as these comments."

I'm trying to understand this. Really, I am. It's been maybe 30 years since a commonly used text editor existed that didn't ignore extra spaces due to what used to quaintly be called "word wrap".

What are you talking about? My phone isn't good at spaces, but I have a very simple phone. Presumably my microwave, if it supported custom programming ("Heat up Bob's bowl of chili!"), would not bother with careful parsing either. But those are exceptions. Maybe I misunderstand you.

rehajm said...

They may take away my guns, but they can't take away my extra space. From my cold dead hands. (makes vacuum gesture with hands)

Bob Ellison said...

rehajm, your demand for "extra space", with implied violence, calls to mind Adolf Hitler's infamous appeal to lebensraum.

Michael said...

No. I will not stop. I will continue to go two spaces. I wil not be lectured about English usage by someone named Farhad Manjoo.

Synova said...

Changing to one space makes sense, but getting bent because people were taught two spaces with old typewriters is just sad. I try to remember just one space, but hitting the space bar twice is habit to me. It's not a moral failing.

Bob Ellison said...

Beldar, what do you think of the single-space after question mark or exclamation point rule, and no capitalization thereafter? because I have long deployed it. It makes sense! when it makes the text flow.

Maybe I'm just compensating for being lousy on spelling and syntax. But (and here I violate yet another rule) I like writing that sounds like oration. The Professor tends to write that way. You can imagine her saying her text aloud.

Petunia said...

Not going to stop using two spaces. It's correct. That article was stupid two years ago and it's even more stupid now.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Every man knows you should give a period all the space it needs.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that what is important is consistency. And, it is easier to be consistent with one space, esp. since I long ago wrote a Word macro that removes double (or more) spaces (without, in my case, affecting revisions).

Used to be somewhat of a running war with my old boss. He would put them in, and I would remove them. But, with the macro, my job was the easier one. His preference came from being a law review editor. My retort would be that that was before they were using word processors. BTW - we also fought over when to put punctuation inside quotes.

kimsch said...

It took me a long time, but I finally stopped typing two spaces at the end of sentences. I learned how to type on a typewriter and that was the conventional wisdom of the time.

Does anyone remember the picture puzzles on a typewriter? Line 1: 17 spaces, 5-%, 3 spaces, 2-&, 17 spaces. etc., etc. And when one finally finished you'd have a portrait of Abraham Lincoln...

edutcher said...

??????

Where I was, as long as you got the period, semicolon, and commas right, they didn't care about spaces.

EDH said...

What galls me about two-spacers isn't just their numbers. It's their certainty that they're right.

Spoken like a true ticktockman.

Chip Ahoy said...

Heh heh heh, you said 'colon.'

timkb4cq said...

I'm old enough to have learned to type on a typewriter and I still use two spaces - not just because I learned that way but because I find it more readable.
As someone who did a bit of typesetting for newspapers in the 70's & 80's I have this issue with the article.   Yes we only used one space at the end of sentences - but it was an "em space".   It varies somewhat, but an em space is about twice the width of a regular "0x20" space in most fonts.   Since typical electronic document formatting does not render the spaces at the end of sentences as em spaces, I use two regular spaces for the same visual effect.   Unfortunately, online, it's a challenge to keep those extra spaces from being removed - although as you can see from this post, it is possible if one is determined.   It's a small issue so normally I don't bother but I doubt I'll ever stop typing the second space.

Kevin said...

I'm to the point now where 1) I don't care what people say about how many spaces I use to end a sentence while I am alive and 2) What the youth do to annihilate the rest of civilization after I'm dead I don't care about because I'll be dead. We gave you the path to the stars, and you threw it all away. A generation away from the singularity, you chuck it out the window because math is hard. If you end up in burkas and scratching up wild root vegatables with your fingers and eating them raw to survive another 4 hours, it's all your fault.

Chip Ahoy said...

The real typewriter learning people also have a problem with whacking the air every time they hear "ding," it's a problem if you're in the way. Otherwise you can have fun playing on their propensities with the use of a little bell.

ding whack
pause
ding whack
paaaaaaauuuuuuse
ding whack
paaaauuuuse
ding whack

Chip Ahoy said...

You get 'em reacting like a cat annoyed by a laser light.

ding whack

Act all innocent like you have nothing to do with the bell dinging randomly.

ding whack

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

Not really sure why I'm posting this since I prefer one space, but if you paste the following snippet of JavaScript into your browser address bar and save it as a bookmark, you can then click the bookmark after typing a post on blogger to convert all double space ended sentences to use    instead. This will prevent HTML from auto-collapsing your double spaces into single spaces. Note that this only works after periods, exclamation points, question marks and colons per Bob's earlier post.

javascript:(function()%7Bvar%20tags%20=%20document.getElementsByTagName(%22textarea%22);for(i=0;i%3Ctags.length;i++)%7Btags%5Bi%5D.value=tags%5Bi%5D.value.replace(/(%5B%5C.!%5C?:%5D)%20%20/g,%22$1  %22);%7D%7D());

Kylos said...

Should read:
"to convert all double space ended sentences to use    instead."

sinz52 said...

timkb4cq,

To insert an em space or en space in Microsoft Word, you can invoke Insert\Symbol\More Symbols... and choose Special Characters. You'll find em space and en space there. You can even assign shortcut keys to those.

Strelnikov said...

Never.

Astro said...

When I first saw that article two years ago I knew right away he was dead wrong. Then I read the whole article. And I suspected he was right.
So I investigated by typing some paragraphs with one space and with two spaces. Yep, one space was the clear winner. Those two space gaps looked like the paragraph was stuttering. I was surprised how easy it was to drop the 2 space habit.

JAL said...

No. It's easier to read.

tree hugging sister said...

I am a two-space person.

While I am still allowed to be so.

Kirk Parker said...

"The blogger.com comment engine converts them to single spaces."

Nope, it just leaves them alone; html itself renders any sequence of whitespace characters as a single space.


And please, everyone: go look at some typeset volumes from yesteryear; high-quality ones. "Two spaces after a period" is a typewriter convention meant to alleviate one of the visual shortcomings of monospaced fonts (just like underlining is a typewriter-conventional replacement for italics.)

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Dammit! When I was taught typing in Jr. High, ca. 1955-56, I was taught two spaces at end of sentence. It's the right thing to do, and I still do it.

bridgecross said...

Farhad Manjoo is the poor man's David Pogue. If by "poor" you mean "drooling nincomboob."

Gene said...

When I first read Manjoo's essay a couple years ago, I thought it was satire. I mean, someone who issues such dogmatic injunctions on high over something as inconsequential as a blank space had to be either joking or completely round the bend. On a second reading, I now think it's the latter.



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

I'm with you, Astro. I read the article when it came out, considered the points it made, and decided it all made sense. I've been using single spacing ever since.

I learned to type on a typewriter in the mid '70s and the two space rule was definitely in place then and I never gave it a second thought. I tend to be a traditionalist in many areas. But after reading that article I would describe my reaction as "free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last"* because it did make so much sense and I was happy to drop the extra effort of the extra space.

*Towards the end of my bike ride today I rode past the Free at Last Bail Bonds agency. I smile whenever I see it.

kimsch said...

I had to change to "one space" because APA formatting requires it and I would points off papers if I used two spaces...

Sam L. said...

I refuse to care.

southcentralpa said...

"Now, could everyone please stop?"

In the immortal words of a naval aviation safety poster, the answer is not only no, it's good gosh golly no.

Levi Starks said...

The problem with consistent inconsistencies with keyboard generated correspondence is that forensics investigators will use it against you in court to prove you wrote the ransom note.

Paddy O said...

I don't even realize I'm doing it. It's hard-wired into my typing. I have to always go and do find and replace in documents, finding the 2 spaces and replacing them with 1.

I've double spaced in this comment after each sentence. Even when I'm thinking about it my thumb just double-taps.

Richard Dolan said...

I like the two-space look. Too densely pixilated pages aren't inviting to the eye. You need to break it up,, let the eye rest just a little bit longer on lovely, white blankness as it moves down the line and page. Especially if the text is made up of long sentences packed into long paragraphs.

The one-space crowd needs to loosen up, get past all that text-jamming constipation, and squeeze an extra space out of the Charmin.

bagoh20 said...

Just tell which convention is the one that pisses off the assholes. That's my only goal.

C R Krieger said...

While I see "Bagoh20's" point, I like the readability of two spaces and use the ampsand and the "nbsp" and then a semicolon and then a space to achieve it.  It has become a habit, like returning the carriage was a habit.  I assume nbsp is "non-breaking space", since it works that way.

But, this is like serif and san-serif.  My wife likes serif and I try to avoid fights with her over it.  Others?  Not so much.

Regards  —  Cliff

kentuckyliz said...

Two spaces. For sure.

I threw in some extras there just to be pissy.

Erika said...

Farhad Manjoo also wrote a silly article on Slate a few years back--sorry, no link, Slate gets no clicks from me--declaring that eBay was, like, totally over and he didn't know what the appeal to people was anymore, and didn't have the grace to respond to the 2,000 or so commenters who pointed out Hay doofus, it's only the world's largest searchable garage sale, yo, where else are you going to find a copy of the cookbook that Holy Family Catholic Church of Shelbyville published in 1984 or a replacement for the cracked bowl in the Pyrex set your grandma gave you twelve years ago?

Sometimes he misses the mark. And really, I don't care. Two spaces looks better-as does inserting a space in my smilies. : ) Don't you agree?

Erika said...

But I don't care enough to work around it when Blogger takes away one of my spaces. : )

Jim Howard said...

I was kicked out of high school typing class for cussing, but before I left I learned that the right and only way to type was to leave two spaces after a period. Period!

bagoh20 said...

"While I see "Bagoh20's" point"

Now it's getting bad. I'm even the last to understand my own point. I really should be banned.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

Wow what a stupid prig! Really Ann, this bothers you?

tim in vermont said...

I am wondering if this article was written by Keith Olberman under a pseudonym. Seriously, did he learn this at the Cow College?

It reminds me of the time on ESPN that Kow Kollege Keith took time out to criticize the way fans pronounced the Jacksonville Jaguars as "Jagwires." To quote Seinfeld, it is supposed to rhyme with "fag you are." Not that there is anything wrong with that....

AllenS said...

I use two spaces at the end of a sentence when sending emails. Back during the days of hot metal printing, after a period there was an adjusting space band and an en space, with only an adjusting spaceband between words. Justified paragraphs would be created using the adjusting space bands so that alignment to both the left and the right was achieved. Paragraphs usually started with a two em space.

Paragraphs with a double space after a sentence are easier to read. This should not be disputed.

Paco Wové said...

Stop?  Ha!  As if.

MadisonMan said...

I just make each of my sentences long enough to be a paragraph.

Problem solved.

Clyde said...

I'd bet that Nanny Bloomberg, Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are all one-spacers. Why? Because they all know better than you how you should live your life, and that extends all the way down to picayune things like the number of spaces after a punctuation mark. For liberals, anything that is not forbidden should be mandatory. They like the clarity that such dualism provides.

AllenS said...

I just remembered, that after a ";" or ":" there was a spaceband and a thin space. Half the thickness of an en space, and an en space is half the thickness of an em space.

Lessons of old.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Let move on to the really serious stuff.

The city in Baja California, Mexico, across from San Diego is

TI-JUANA

There are two, and only two, of the letter 'A' in Tijuana.

Do *not* *ever* say Tiajuana.

Phucking Filestine barbarians.


Smilin' Jack said...

I'd never heard of using two spaces after a period until I read Manjoo's article. Is there no limit to the sick, twisted perversions in this world?

Incidentally, someone named Farhad Manjoo is likely to be much better versed in the rules of English grammar and usage than someone named John Smith. Great Britain taught those rules to its colonies before forgetting them itself in the decline of empire.

Crunchy Frog said...

Heh heh heh, you said 'colon.'

Punctuation goes outside the quotes, you heathen.

Note that you don't put two spaces after a semicolon; doing that would be half-assed.

Crunchy Frog said...

And no, it's not Jag-yoo-ar, dammit. That's the car company.

Jag. Warr. Two syllables.

gregq said...

No. I won't. :-)

Shawn L. said...

Two years ago?

Heck Robin Williams (no, not him) tried telling people not to do this back when she wrote "The Mac is not a Typewriter," about twenty years ago.

Writ Small said...

I'm certain this isn't the least important thing to be worried about. Well, pretty sure.

Willo said...

And on the third anniversary, a correction: His "history" is fabricated and the rant unfounded.

http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=324