Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Many Spaces After A Period?

When did they stop telling people to put two spaces after a period?

I had no idea, absolutely zero idea that this wasn't being practiced any more.

I thought the increased tendency towards a single space after a period was a combination of two things:

1. People learning to type themselves, and never taking a formal typing class where they were told to insert two spaces after a period.

2. HTML formatting not recognizing a difference between a single space and two spaces, and showing them both as a single space.

But, no. Come to find out that the Chicago Manual of Style people want the second space obliterated. The much more generous people at the Modern Language Association say there's nothing wrong with it, but still say they use the single-space form.

Apparently books haven't used the second space since before the middle of the last century.

This is amazing to me. This is like being told that i stopped being before e fifty years ago, didn't your grandparents get the memo?

This is one innovation I don't know if I can handle. I figured out how to install my wireless router. I'm not a complete fogey. But my poor thumbs are so trained to put two spaces after a period, they sometimes want to do it when I'm typing the period as a decimal point.

Could we maybe get a recount on this one? I think I may have filled out my ballot wrong.


theFrog said...

Didn't you have Mrs. Mitchell for AP English Comp? I could swear she covered that in her class because I remember being stupidly giddy that I'd never have to retardedly double-space again.

GoodyScrivener said...

I think we talked about this on the 'Rack recently? Anyway, I was taught double space in the late 80's and I've been doing it for so long that it's force of habit now. My daughter, who's a freshman now, says they weren't taught anything specific, but when I've proofread reports for her, she's typically used a single space.

Personally, so long as it's consistent through a document, I don't understand why it's such a big deal.

Erik said...

I don't even know who Mrs. Mitchell was. I only had AP English my senior year, with Trauber. She and I didn't have that good a relationship. If she had told me this, I would have assumed it was a lie she was telling me to make me look bad and my papers seem less polished.

And yes, it was that thread on the 'Rack where I first heard of this, and it completely shocked me. Don't ask me why I waited until now to post about it. Maybe my shock finally overcame my fear of looking stupid for not knowing already.

KipEsquire said...

It's merely the result of the rise of justification over right flush in modern word processors. For right-flush text, double-spacing is still entirely appropriate.

Double-spacing in justified text is not only unnecessary, but also distracting and unappealing aesthetically.

Anonymous said...

Today I felt like I was going a little crazy. I went to a placement agency where they administered a spelling/grammer test to me and I noticed after EVERY sentence there was only 1 space.
I was like, "is this a trick?" so I turned them all into 2 spaces only to find that that wasn't what they were looking for.
I have always put two spaces after a period. I was taught that way in typing and English classes.
I can't imagine how the change of this was something I never heard about! I am truly floored.

Anonymous said...

I was as astonished as everyone else!!! I am having problems adjusting to the one space thing also. My writing is now all over the place. I think I even did two spaces by mistake while I was writing right now! crazy!

Lidon said...

I'm with you! I guess I'll start using one space now since that seems to be the trend, but I was never told this either! I just randomly noticed the single space with someone's typing and then started noticing it more and more.

I was taught the double space growing up and all throughout college, not one professor ever corrected me or suggested I use a single space. I think it's funny when people make such a big deal out of it but at the same time, I don't want to feel "outdated" either.

Th. said...


Have you been successfully redeemed?

Erik said...

Let's just say when a tweet is coming up a wee bit long, I usually know what punctuation mark to look after to trim a bit.