Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can I Get a Ruling: One or Two Spaces After a Period?

First off, congratulations to my childhood hero Rickey Henderson for being elected into the baseball Hall of Fame!! Not only was Rickey an incredible hitter and base stealer, he also said things like "Rickey don't like it when Rickey can't find Rickey's limo" (no seriously, that's an actual quote), making him spectacularly entertaining off the field as well. Rickey might just be the first baseball player ever to give his entire acceptance speech in the third person.

Now then.

I'd like to issue a parental advisory right now. Because of the impassioned feelings on both sides of this issue, this debate could get ugly.

Let's get this one settled once and for all.

(Deep breath)

One space or two after a period?

Bracing....

(Thanks to lotusgirl for the idea.)







304 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 304   Newer›   Newest»
Crimogenic said...

Yup, I'm ol' fashion. I was taught two spaces after a period. It was burned into my brain. Beat into me. Okay, not beat, but it was a horrifying learning experience. And until I'm told I have to change my spacing, I will probably do two spaces until the end. Besides, I didn't even know this was an issue until I recently read it in the blogging world.

JenA-GreenInkEdits said...

I do want to say that my preference for 2 spaces is that I learned to type in an old-school typing class on an actual typewriter (which were considered pretty antiquated even at the time - I'm only 31). And so my natural typing motion is to put in 2 spaces and I'd have to seriously concentrate on retraining myself if I were to have to move to just 1. Still, I know a lot of places are moving to just 1 and using 2 is increasingly considered antiquated - when I work in Dreamweaver, for example, I can't type 2 spaces into text without actually going into the HTML and adding an extra " " after my first space. Which is a huge pain in the butt and as a result, my web pages all just have 1 space. Not by choice but by laziness :) I'm not so OCD that I think 1 space is wrong; I just want it to be consistent throughout a document. So if you start by using 1 space, you do it throughout. Ditto if you start by using 2 spaces.

Mark Wise said...

Why would you want two spaces after a period? Double spaces is illogical, immoral, and from the Devil. There is no other reason to do it unless you are trying to make your story appear longer than it really is.

Just Say NO to Double Spacing! - brought to you by PADSAP (People Against Double Spacing After Periods)

clindsay said...

I find myself deleting the extra spaces in manuscripts and cursing wildly. I think in the old days of mono-spaced fonts, the two-spaces thing may have helped make a manuscript more readable. But with every other font, it seems to just cause annoying gaps in the text.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Nathan,

It's correct today to use one. Before there were proportional typefaces, and every letter and punctuation mark occupied the same width on the page, two were necessary to make that sentence break clear.

Now, unless you're using Courier, just one is necessary. Editors will remove it, so you might as well save them the trouble.

ryan field said...

I just always heard it was old fashioned to use two spaces. I heard they did two spaces for a reason, back in the day, but I don't know what that is. So I prefer one space, and no publisher or editor has ever complained about it. I heard they also had roll up windows in cars and that you actually had to stick a key into a car door to open it. But I'd rather push buttons.

C.D. Reimer said...

I learned my typing on a typewriter. Two spaces is a natural for me. The only time I use a single space is with Twitter since every character counts.

Phil said...

Microsoft Word tells me one space is correct therefore it must be so.

RW said...

One!
For the reason Martha explained. Two spaces is a habit the more senior among us picked up in typing classes that use typewriters. Computerized word processing programs make it unnecessary and weird. I'm constantly removing them in copy that I edit as part of my work.

wolf said...

I was taught to use two spaces, and that's what I did, but then I read over and over again in agent & editor blogs that it should be one space, so I switched. Unfortunately, my current novel manuscript was written with two, and I'm still trying to figure out an easy way to switch all of the two-space breaks with one space. Don't want to uselessly annoy an agent, after all.

Kate said...

Like most people who have reached the age of adulthood, I was taught to use two spaces as a child. It seems the convention changed after typing moved from typewriter to computer, but I'm realatively young and learned to type on a computer. I didn't hear to cut out the second space until I was in my twenties. Somehow the change came easy for me, and I've been a single spacer ever since. Still I can see how people that spent decades typing on typewriters could have a harder time making the shift.

Serena C said...

What Martha said. A lot of people hang on to the "two-spaces" rule because they think their old typing teacher is going to suddenly appear and rap them on the knuckles, but that's not a good enough reason in my book!

I learned with two as well, but as soon as computers and proportional fonts started becoming more common, I unlearned it (almost 20 years ago). Embrace change already, people! You don't want white rivers in your manuscript, do you? :)

Jude Hardin said...

Unless your childhood hero was Babe Ruth, you should use one space after a period.

Serena C said...

@wolf:
Can you do a find and replace? Even the most basic text editors should have that feature.

Susan in NC said...

1. Was taught to use TWO when I learned to type (on a typewriter).

2. Switched to ONE when I began using a computer.

3. Switched back to TWO when I heard, on various writing blogs and web sites, that this was considered the industry standard.

4. Now I'm just confused. What do YOU say, Nathan?

Kim said...

I ran across this same puzzle on another forum.

Most said one space. Those who learned to type on a typewriter said two.

Very interesting.

Ben said...

I was taught to use two spaces. I will continue to use two spaces, even though the technology no longer requires it. I am using two spaces after a period right now. I use two spaces after a period in my manuscripts.

I don't consider this a question of grammar so much as style, and when it comes to style, there's quite great room for variation. As such, if my manuscript is grammatical and my story interesting enough that an agent wants to read it, why should two spaces matter instead of one?

If it's really a big deal for that person, I can just do a find/replace to switch them all to a single space.

Dorinda Ohnstad said...

I too am among the old typewriter generation and two spaces is something I do automatically. Since the publishing industry prefers a single space, I have slowly worked towards making single spacing my automatic response. Still working on it. I tend now to have a mix. It takes time to undo many years of habit, but it will happen eventually.

Good news Wolf, I have found that an easy way to edit them out is to do a find and replace and simply put in a double space for find and a single space for replace and waa lah, they all get corrected with the push of a single button.

Martin Willoughby said...

I also use two spaces. I have submitted many short stories with 2 spaces after a fullstop (period to Americans).

Only one magazine has ever insisted on one space after a fullstop, so I changed it for them.

Is there an industry standard on this, or is just down to age/teaching? (I'm 45 by the way)

Scott said...

I said two cause a) it still helps when reading very small print, b) it's how I was taught, c) I fear that, thanks to the computer, all writing will become lik this n teh futr, dnt u? LOL!!1!

And there's nothing wrong with white space. Easier on the eyes, innit? Manuscript sizes are judged by word count anyway, so that argument doesn't seem to stick, either.

Regardless, I think we can all agree that it is a very important issue and I'm relieved to be addressing it in this forum.

But really, what do agents/publishers prefer?

ryan field said...

If you double space on a comment thread after a period, will it automatically become a single space? I'm curious. I just did it. I want to see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Copyeditors use one.

Use one.

Why cause more work for the underpaid copyeditor?

ryan field said...

Even though I doubled, looks single to me.

debra said...

I too learned to type on a manual typewriter. Two spaces was drilled into my head and two spaces has forever been my default.

MzMannerz said...

I was taught to use two spaces, however, in the space between that lesson and now (multiple decades) I was taught again that two spaces is obsolete, unnecessary, and can actually throw off the spacing in a document as Microsoft Word, et al, are not programmed to factor in two spaces after a period.

Two spaces were necessary for typewriters and their unique limitations.

Anonymous said...

I never knew there was a controversy over one space or two. It never came up in any of the conferences I've been to or any of the books on writing that I've read. Hmm.

But I guess I'm an old fogey. (at 41) I still use two spaces.

WandaV in AL

Natalie said...

Oh, this has been so polite so far. People can get pretty worked up over this...

You don't NEED two spaces (thanks to proportional type fonts), but it's still an "acceptable" standard. The gap does interrupt the flow of the text, but some people still like it. Hopefully, someday everyone will filter over to one space.

In the meantime, find/replace is a lovely feature to get rid of them:)

MzMannerz said...

"I fear that, thanks to the computer, all writing will become lik this n teh futr, dnt u? LOL!!1!"

Thank you, Scott, for providing today's first laugh out loud moment for me. :)

terryd said...

If your manuscript is perfect in every other way, use two spaces to give copyeditors something to do. Otherwise, use one.

Anonymous said...

I am only 21 and was always taught to use 2 spaces and still do so in my college papers...

-Jon

Robena Grant said...

I voted for one space. It saves trees. Also, it helps make me look like a younger author, and I'm all for looking younger ... at least on paper.

Amanda said...

I known it's supposed to be one, but two was burned into me when I learned how to type, so I can't help myself. I do two automatically. It's hard to curb habits at 90 wpm, you know? So after I'm done writing, before I submit anything, I do a find/replace in Word and change all double spaces with singles, because I know it's proper. I don't like the way it looks, because I'm used to my way, but I do it anyway.

Justus M. Bowman said...

They taught me two. I ended up using one. *shrugs*

Grats to Rickey Henderson. I remember having some cards of his.

Kimber An said...

Once and for all-

Write out numbers under ten, twenty, or one hundred?

Seems like every person and every guide says something different.

Sigh. I'm inclined to say one hundred just because it looks nicer.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Dude,

In an age of texting and other shorthand for English, I'm just grateful that people know how to use a period. Period.

Sarah Jensen said...

I used two because that's what I was taught in school. Typing on a typewriter, not a computer keyboard. But I'm up for learning new things. I've been told one is the new thing, and since much has changed since I went to school, I'll go with the flow on this. I don't mind change.

Kim said...

This is an easy one. Two spaces were used back in the day of TYPEWRITERS when every letter and symbol occupied the same amount of space. Now that we're using word processors, you should only use ONE SPACE due to fancified computer technology that . . . oh, wait, Martha Brockenbrough already said it! She's absolutely correct.

Steve Fuller said...

If you want to hear some great quotes from Ricky Henderson, just listen to Jim Rome. Classic stuff.

And the better question is, when did we lose the comma when referring to three items. As in, "Joe bought pants, shoes, and a hat." Now it's, "Joe bought pants, shoes and a hat."

I have the hardest time eliminating that second comma.

acpaul said...

Two spaces after the period is a hold over from typewriter days. Word programs automatically insert enough extra space after a period.

Marsha said...

One! One! ONE! :)

I worked as an editor at a publishing company. We'd never dream of two spaces. It's just wrong!

Justus M. Bowman said...

Hmm...after reading some of the article, it seems Rickey isn't as happy about his Hall of Fame status as one might expect.

JJ said...

I am of the old-fashioned school and also put two spaces after a period. I'm only 23, but this is what we were taught in my 4th grade typing class back in 1994. It's become such a habit that I always type two spaces after a period, even though Microsoft Word now auto-corrects me. But I can't help it! It slows me down to think, "Oh wait, only ONE space after a period now."

Dara said...

I only put one. Always have. At least that's what I was always taught (perhaps it shows my age):P

JohnO said...

I love that, thanks to HTML, this whole debate is rendered in one-space-after-the-period. And no one seems to mind.

If you're that Pleistocene about it, use two. It will default to one on Web pages, and in most publishing houses, where they'll simply run a find-and-replace.

Back when I was working on the SF peninsula, I saw Ricky order a sandwich. Ricky liked the the sandwich the way Ricky liked the sandwich, and Ricky didn't mind making everyone wait until Ricky got the sandwich the way Ricky liked the sandwich.

On the upside, he was completely oblivious to us, so we just stared at him the whole time. Good ballplayer, though. I would have voted him in, too.

Stephanie Fysh said...

Doubled spaces in lines of text are more than twice as likely to create lakes and rivers of white space across lines: there's more space to become contiguous with other word space. And when that happens, it's not innocent white space anymore -- it can cause the same hiccups in the reading process as stacks and ladders of non-white space.

Marty said...

I grew up a Giants fan and hated the A's all except Ricky Henderson. You just got to love a guy as talented and over-the-top odd as Ricky.

Two spaces for sure - that is from one who learned to type on an old manual typewriter. Modern computers (I use a Mac) will accept one or two and make both spacings the same in the final format.

Anonymous said...

And Jim Rice? What about Jim Rice?

AP Style requires one space after the period.

When I edit other people's writing, the first thing I do is search and replace those annoying double spaces, and I do it more than once, because who knows how many spaces some people use ... Yes, a holdover from typewriters, unnecessary in our enlightened computer age.

Annette Lyon said...

There's even a debate about this? Every editor I've worked with since 1997 has insisted on one space because we're in the digital age now. Two spaces is a fossil.

No impassioned feelings--just reality.

ineti said...

I was taught to put two spaces after a period, so that's what I do in all my manuscripts unless I'm following guidelines that specify otherwise. If an editor or typesetter wants to change it one space, they're certainly welcome to do so.

My focus is on the writing, not the small stuff.

Sarah Jensen said...

And the better question is, when did we lose the comma when referring to three items. As in, "Joe bought pants, shoes, and a hat." Now it's, "Joe bought pants, shoes and a hat."

What Steve? No that's not right. I don't think I could give that one up. Two spaces to one, okay. But lose the last comma? No way.

And I echo Kimber An's question:
Write out numbers under ten, twenty, or one hundred?
I'm up for a discussion on this.
:)

Brad Green said...

I'm going to be experimental and edgy and use three.

Sarah said...

There's a controversy about this?

Really?

I use two spaces, and yes, I did learn on a typewriter. I was fine with yesterday's post- no angst there- but changing to one space?

Good grief.

How long did it take those of you who switched to the dark side to get used to it? Seems like you'd be backspacing at the end of every sentence for a while...

Colleen said...

Are you kidding me!!?? Two spaces! Two years of high school typing classes (yes, TYPING...I'm just that old) cannot be wrong.

Perhaps a more scientific survey would be to ask the person's age as well. I'm betting that all of us 35 years and older would be voting for two spaces.

Melospiza said...

After having had to return to a few manuscripts and weed out every single double space, I am now a one-space typer.

Ink said...

You've all convinced me. I just switched to single space and started the ol' Find and Replace dance on all my manuscripts. It's great to have a community of anal reten... charming and helpful writers.

:)

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

Julia Weston said...

I can't vote. My mother and high-school English and typing teachers ingrained in me the two-space rule. It's as good as coded in my DNA. But just before I voted I flipped open my dusty AP style guide. ONE SPACE!!!

My finger won't click. I am shaken to the core.

Nathan Bransford said...

Don't worry Steve, we will fight the serial comma battle another day.

Steve said...

When I was copyediting at S&S Children's, the first thing we did with any copy--from cover copy to front matter to the manuscript itself--was find and replace double spaces with singles. Since some writers even enjoy throwing in the occasional triple or quadruple space--Lord knows why--it usually took a few F&R passes through to get everything nice and tidy.

Ashley said...

Wow. I'm totally confused now.

I'm only 23, and I had a typing class in high school where we were taught to use two spaces! And that is exactly what I did all through college and that is what I continue to do.

Now I read all these comments from people saying that they are old and only use two spaces because that's how they were taught when using a typewriter???

Nathan, now I feel as if my whole word is off balance!

Anonymous said...

Now I am wondering if I was the only person who grew up with computers that learned 2 spaces was correct. The again, I notice windows tends to view one space as correct will linux supports two.

-Jon

Ashley said...

Whoops. That should read my whole "world" not "word". Sorry.

Cam said...

Follow the AP-style rule of ONE space after a period (and all punctuation marks for that matter). To whom do you answer, your typing teacher (who's not with the times if they're still teaching 2 spaces), or an editor, who has to search-and-replace every two-space entry throughout an MS with a single space? That's the dilemma of many online and print editors who are driven crazy by story submissions with two spaces that then have to be edited to fit the text into a tight space. Be safe. AP style is always a good bet.

Lee said...

Just be reading the comments, you'll figure out just where we all fall, age-wise.

Older ones, like me, will say two: because in the Gregg Typewriter curriculum, it said 2.

However, younger folks who wouldn't know to listen for that little bell at the end of a line, will say one.

Thanks Nathan for making me feel so old.

Michelle (MG) Braden said...

I can't stop double spacing at the end of a sentence. It's ingrained into me. I type 72 wpm and by the time I realise that I'm supposed to have only used one space I'm long gone. LOL So, now, I just type the ms that way and fix it with the find & replace. Most of the epubs I have worked with want only one space.

As for the comma question. I agree! I always put that last comma in a list, i.e. periods, commas, and question marks.

Also, for numbers being written out, I've been told (who knows when - maybe typing class? LOL) that single and double digits are written out, but triple and above the actual number is used.

Bryn Greenwood said...

What if I'm entirely ambivalent and I just wish somebody with some authority would make up his effing mind and issue a proclamation. Maybe the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and Stephen King could get together and make a ruling on this?

Nancy Coffelt said...

For all you two-space holdouts -

what about the trees? How many trees have given their very lives for your two-space habit? How many more need to die?

As a proudly modern one-spacer, I can sit smugly on my greenie laurels while kicking back on my hemp fabric upholstered couch, sipping my organic soy chai latte and contemplating my contribution to saving the planet.

Ashley said...

Okay. I don't think I can type another sentence of my WIP without hearing which is correct. Call me naive but I had NO idea that editors got irritated by two spaces.

Robert A Meacham said...

I agree with CAM. This gives me great relief in the noggin, considering that when I accidentally use two spaces my computer sticks its tongue out at me and I begin hearing voices.

Leslie said...

One space because verily, that is the way of the world. I don't like it because I learned the 2-space way, but there you go!

Anonymous said...

It is one space if your manuscript is too long and two if it is too short. Is that too hard to figure out? It's like queries, if you suck at them get someone else to write it if you're good write it yourself.

Whirlochre said...

As with any convention, preference and usage will depend on the wishes of those penned up in the convent, and I'm guessing we're seeing a shift from (the old standard) 2 to (the likely new standard) 1, with the speed of change likely being dependent on the desire of the 2s (like me) to drag their habitual heels.

In the end, I can't think this matters very much at all. But who knows — it may be the start of a global conflict.

Stina Rose said...

I was so excited in college when I learned that I only had to use one space...I will never go back!

dernjg said...

I was taught to write for newspapers, where space is at a premium. So it's always one space for me.

Jean said...

Let's settle this once and for all and consult the gods of style. APA:http://www.apastyle.org/faqs.html#14

And in case you don't want to follow the link, here's what the gods say:
"Unlike manual typewriters, word-processing software uses fonts that result in proportional spacing, so additional spacing around periods is no longer necessary. Uniform spacing around punctuation also saves a step in preparing word-processing files for electronic editing. As a publisher, APA does not return manuscripts on the basis of the spacing around punctuation."

Jean

Anonymous said...

Nancy Coffelt said... what about the trees.

Um... submissions are electronic for the most part.

dan radke said...

I'm a recent one-space convert. And I've never looked back.

Get with the times you archaic two-spacers.

Bill Womack said...

The double-spacers remind me of a Brit who got pulled over in Kansas for driving on the wrong side of the road. "But officer, I was taught to drive this way!"

Buck up. Technology changed, and so did the rules. Switch to one space now, or risk causing a horrendous pile-up. Lives will be lost, people!

Fortunately, if you've got a two-space MS, it ought not to be too tough to simply find and replace all instances of doubles with singles, as was said earlier.

Brian Jay Jones said...

Two spaces. Because it looks better. I also put two spaces after each period in an ellipses, just to be annoying.

Ink said...

And even though I just switched (20 mins ago) to single spacing, I've found the whole "save the trees" thing inaccurate, since the switch didn't change the page count of a very long manuscript (sadly...), though that manuscript was chaptered (but then won't almost every manuscript be chaptered or broken up in some way?)

Now, of course, we get to see if I can actually remember to type only one space after a period... or maybe I'll just finish every sentence with ellipses...

My best, as always,
Bryan

Jenn Johansson said...

Just for information's sake, I took my finished ms that I am currently editing which was all done with two spaces after the period and performed a find and replace with one space. It took all of five seconds and came back with 4,871 replacements confirmed. I voted for two, but according to Word, I'm flexible. :)

Jael said...

One.

Professor Tarr said...

Igrewupinanagewhentwospaceswasthenorm. Itcertainlyseemstoaddsomewhitespacetomyramblings. Iwillprobablystickwithit. Ineverthoughtitwasanactualcontroversy,though. I sawitasmoreofacuriosity. PerhapsIhaveotherissuesI'mnotawareof.

Sorry. You know it was so ingrained upon me as a youth to have two spaces that when I interview animators over on my Animated Lives! site
(http://animationblock.typepad.com/editorial/animated_lives/), I painstakingly - and quite painfully go through each line of html adding in the   to get the requisite comfort level.

I honestly would be sooo relieved to find that I could abandon the typewriter caprices of my youth and mature into a nice old one-space-after-a-period gent. Seriously. It is a habit. Still. (Obviously!) But it is one I could gleefully teach myself to break.

The Anti-Wife said...

Two. That's what they taught in typing class back when the machines were manual and it is forever ingrained in my head.

Terra Dawn said...

I would like to say that I am 25, was taught in a computer class, and was taught two spaces. I was taught two spaces all the way through high school and the beginning of college up until 2002. After that, teachers just didn't seem to care anymore. I've tried to change my "two-space" habit, but it's "two" ingrained. (Can't pass up a really terrible joke.)

Just_Me said...

We are not using typewriters.

No one is getting paid by the line.

Stop padding your page and keep writing. The obsession with two spaces can't be healthy.

L.C.McCabe said...

Nathan,

I was convinced on this very subject by the loquacious Anne Mini.

Standard format *requires* two spaces after periods.

It allows for more space to do hand edits and for the trained eye, it "looks better."

She expounded on this very topic over a year ago and one of her posts can be found here:

http://www.annemini.com/?p=1719

There is no one I know that has more passion about this topic than Anne Mini.

In deference to her profoundly superior knowledge of this topic, I continue to create two spaces after each period as my fingers were taught years ago in typing class. (Yes, I'm that old.)

Linda

spinregina said...

As a copy editor, I have never heard of two spaces being allowed. We search and replace two spaces with one, when we get a script submitted by someone who does that.

Megan said...

I'm 25 and was taught two spaces (yes, by my mother, who learned on a typewriter). I also like the look of two spaces better. If someone who will potentially give me money for my writing wants me to change it to one, then a little find/change and I'm set.

I think the best comments are the ones that said they didn't even realize it was an issue until the read it in the blogging world. If it's only an issue in the blogging world, I'm not going to get too worked up about it.

Kimberly Derting said...

As a Two-Spacer, my editor asked me to go through a replace them all with one space during editing. Sure. Simple. Easy enough.

Yet, as I'm working on Book Two, I find myself *stubbornly* holding out and using two spaces.

Trust me, save yourself the headache! ONE. SPACE.

L.C.McCabe said...

I looked at Anne Mini's blog again and found a more current post that deals with this very controversy and expounds on the difference between manuscripts and books on one versus two spaces after periods.

Check it out:

http://www.annemini.com/?p=1780

Knows-His-Pen said...

After more than twenty years as an editor, I found it quite an adjustment to use one space between sentences instead of two. But the logic is irrefutable, as clindsay and others point out here, especially with digital fonts. (Actually, to be correct, and old-fashioned, digital typefaces! A font is a variation on a typeface--or used to be considered as such.)

Speaking of which, where is the outcry over the recent reversion to the truly old-fashioned practice of using ordinals with dates (March 15th) rather than the cleaner, more eye-appealing cardinal (March 15), which was the standard until Microsoft quietly added its ordinal marker as a default autocorrection. That little "th" is made even more irritating because it is programmed to appear as a dainty little superscript, and it looks silly in most printed copy. But the only way to remove it, for most of us, is to go into the Tools section of Word and change it.

Hey, maybe folks like it. So, Nathan, how about another poll on the dainty li'l ordinal that's creeping into the language?

jackykendricks said...

Being lysdexic (dyslexic for those who don't get the joke), I find I can't distinguished between a (,) and a (.) without that little bit of extra space. Especially in novels with tiny fonts. Or on a computer screen. Maybe more so on the screen than in print.

In either case, Double space for the win!

Megan said...

On a whim, I just did a find/change on my 260 page work in progress. 8479 instances of double spacing were changed, reducing my 260 page document to 258 pages. A second sweep caught another 13 but didn't change the page count (zero on the third). How many trees did I save there?

Adaora A. said...

I say one. I find myself to be extremely annoyed when looking at the glaring hole that (in my mind), is too big and unnecessary.

Congrats to your baseball hero. To be honest, I've never watched a game of baseball (longer then 10 minutes in my life). It's all about football (the proper original, where you use your feet), and basketball.

D.A.A. Price (aka Elgin) said...

All fashion trends aside, why would anyone spend the time to add all those extra spaces, when the first thing the typesetter does when they receive a manuscript is to search through the text and strip them all back out? Double spaces after periods is pointless, and a much easier habit to break than cigarettes or heroin.

Mim said...

I used to do two, until I started writing online. Then I was quickly told to change to one. After a few months of retraining myself, I use just one. And I couldn't go back and forth depending on what I'm writing. Let's stick to one!

Lapillus said...

I was taught two in college and have to use two for my work, so two just comes naturally now. So much so that I've never even considered what my manuscript should have (???).

Tia Nevitt said...

If you use two spaces, they're easy enough to delete before submitting. Just do a search and replace. Enter a period and two spaces in the "find" portion, and a period and one space in the "replace" portion. Execute the search. Presto.

I was a two-space girl until a friend of mine told me that today's modern fonts now includes enough room so that the additional space after the period isn't necessary. So after 20 years of typing with two spaces, I have trained myself to using one space. It really wasn't that hard.

Sandy said...

Ugh. It looks like one-space is winning. I guess I begrudgingly agree that two-spaces is outdated, but it's So Freaking Hard to quit! I've had to delete every double space after my punctuation in this post.

I guess this can kind of be a late New Year's Resolution.

Aimless Writer said...

Rule? Two spaces. However Microsoft word automatically spaces after a period.

Elyssa Papa said...

I was taught two spaces in school and college, too. But that's changed since I've learned it's one spaces, even though it seems like this varies amongst different publishers.

So maybe . . . it depends???

Kate H said...

This isn't really an issue for debate. Use of two spaces belongs to the typewriter era. Computers do automatic "kerning," which means they give you a little extra space after a period so the following capital doesn't look too close. It's unnecessary to use double spaces, and it drives copyeditors and typographers nuts! Please, people, don't do it!

Tom Burchfield said...

As a professional freelance proofreader and editor, I had one space thoroughly beaten into my head by my mentors, period.

I posted a remembrance of Donald Westlake over at the Red Room at

http://www.redroom.com/articlestory/whatever-mask-he-wore-donald-westlake-1933-2008,

if you're at all interested. I'm not essay-ing on blogspot anymore, BTW.

Snarky Writer said...

I find it easier to separate sentences when there's an extra space between them.

Jade said...

Wow. What an amazingly impassioning subject!

The answer is, of course, ONE. I'm a magazine editor. Copy with double spaces after full stops simply means we have to spend an extra twenty minutes editing the damn thing. Searching for double spaces doesn't always work, because some (clearly deranged) people put in three spaces occasionally - just to be safe, perhaps? To still the voices in their head that warn them not to put the sentences too close together or fires will break out?

Aaargh. One, please. Just one!

AC said...

Everyone else has probably already said it, but ONE SPACE for the love. This isn't the 80s. Two spaces are not necessary.

I edit for a magazine and if my freelancers would learn this simple *new* rule it would save me TONS of time backspacing the crap out of their stories.

Laura D said...

To all the tree huggers out there. Two spaces makes minimal damage compared to useless filler. Editors gotta get rid of that too!

Anonymous said...

As a magazine editor, I don't have page space for your extra breathing room...it has to be one for formatting in articles. For books, go with what they tell you they want, but one space won't get kicked back to you for re-formatting, two spaces might

Stacey said...

I am used to two spaces, because that is how I learned to type. I think if I tried to type with just one, it would take longer than going back through and deleting them later!

Stacey said...

Oh and RW...I don't think it is just the "senior"s that learned the double space...I am only 25 and I learned it all the way through high school in my keyboarding class.

Ashley said...

Okay. If it is ONE space these days, someone needs to send a memo to every teacher in the country! I just graduated from college in May of 2007 and was never at anytime in my academic career told that I should be using two spaces instead of one. And I wrote a LOT of papers.

I have no problem making the switch if that is what is required. I just wish I wouldn't have [recently] been taught to do it another way. It gets stuck in your head and I do so much typing that those two spaces are just second nature to me. And now that I'm so used to them, they just look better, too.

Summer said...

Two! I had two English teachers, one in elementary school and one in high school, who were very emphatic about there being two spaces after a period, not one. When I got to college I was informed that two-spacing was outdated and basically made me look like a dumb hick. (Who knew punctuation could make you look uncool?) I tried for an entire school year to break the habit and switch to using only one space after each period.

When I finally managed to break the habit... I found that I hated it. It is much easier (for me, at least) to read and process text where there's a little extra space at the end of each sentence. It looks like a tiny difference, but it makes a world of difference in reducing mental fatigue when I read, as I wind up having to reread sections far, far less often.

I'm a two-spacer, and proud of it! :)

(In the interest of full disclosure, I do often use a typewriter when I write. But I didn't while I was in school, so it doesn't really have a bearing on my single/double spacing after periods.)

Juliana Stone said...

My fingers have been trained to type two spaces after a period. I didn't realize it was an issue either until one of my crit partners noticed, however, neither my agent nor my editor said anything about it. I guess until I'm told not too...I will continue with two spaces. Then I'll curse the whole retraining angle.

Marilyn Peake said...

I know that work submitted electronically is now supposed to have only one space after a period. It's so ingrained in me to have two spaces after a period, I found myself alternating between one and two spaces when I tried to retrain myself while writing fiction manuscripts, so I just went back to two. Interestingly, I was taught to use only one space after a colon, and recently found grammar/style guidelines stating that two spaces are required after a colon! Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorite writers, and he decided to leave out apostrophes in words that sound the same with or without them such as "don't"/"dont", and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In case this is supposed to be an argument, I will sum up by saying: So there! :)

Summer said...

I should also add - I do usually edit out the extra spaces before I submit something for publication.

The rest of the world, though, simply has to deal with my extra-space-taking-up-ness. :)

L.C. Gant said...

I use two spaces out of habit because that's how I was taught, but I absolutely hate the concept. One makes so much more sense to me, and eventually I'm sure I'll switch, but for now...two it is. As they say, old habits die hard.

Don said...

OK, this is one that I can speak authoritatively on. Two spaces after a period is actually a remnant of 19th century typesetting (not typewriting). Compositors were paid by the line, so not surprisingly, they began engaging in various tricks to increase their line count. Spaces increased from 1/5 em to 1/4 em to 1/3 em or more, and an extra space was inserted after each sentence. If you pick up a book typeset in the 19th century, it's painfully spaced. In the 1920s tighter spacing became more fashionable and became mainstream after world war two courtesy of the advocacy of Jan Tschichold (who redesigned the Penguin Paperbacks) and a generation of typographers trained in the wake of the return to quality in the 20s.

But typewriter standards, which were established during the dark ages of typography were never brought up to date. All sorts of post hoc explanations were created (legibility, monospaced fonts, etc) to defend the practice, but the truth remains that it was a consequence of the typewriter coming into existence in the late 19th century.`

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am amazed that so far the results are favoring one space. I thought everyone used two spaces. Regardless, it's too late for me to change that. As an English major, I used two spaces. In law school, I used two spaces. As a lawyer, I use two spaces (though I may ask my secretary what she uses; now I'm curious). And as a writer: two spaces.

It also surprises me that people say it's "old fashioned" to use two spaces. I'm only 27! I didn't realize I was already old enough to be old-school. Damn.

JLR said...

I've heard the two spaces after a period was antiquated, typewriter practice. But I graduated in 2000, we did have computers, and we were still taught the two space rule then. In college, I was still taught it. I guess it depends on where you live and whom teaches you. It would halve my speed to try to make myself not do two spaces, such an automatic gesture it's become to me, so I don't know if I want to learn a new method. But with word processors these days, it is easy to do a search and replace to get two spaces down to one (did it once for a submission). Not so sure about vice versa.

Jodi

Iain H. McLean said...

Firstly let tell you I'm British, living in California and freshly into my thirties.

I was told at school to have only one space after a full stop (period). Now I use MS word for some of my writing and it automatically defaults to two spaces. I've noticed this in some American publications so I just left it in there.

To me two spaces is like the cadence in music. It lets the reader/listener know that with in no uncertain terms the sentence is coming to and end and we're about to begin another. A useful device if you ask me.

Scott said...

Dang, who knew the one space, two space quesiton would generate so many comments. I still use two spaces. Until today, I didn't realize there was a big debate going on. I obviously need to get out more often.

I'm comfortable with the two space rule. I'm afraid if I try and change now, my manuscripts will be series of two spaces, one space, one space, two spaces, one space, two spaces . . . well, you see my point.

Kathleen said...

I do two. I love two. I think two is better. My fingers type two without even thinking.

But I'm trying to change my habit since it seems that almost everyone (including my dream publisher) does one. ::sigh::

I suspect it has something to do with the fact that many online things won't even accept two spaces and will winnow it down to one, no matter what you do.

Arianna said...

"Unless your childhood hero was Babe Ruth, you should use one space after a period."

That cracks me up. I couldn't even tell you who Babe Ruth played for. I'm 21 and use two spaces. Perhaps the real question is how old our English teachers have been.

And to all of you who say you can't understand how anyone can waste so much time adding in a pointless space, I am throughly confused. Do you even think about it? I just write. I don't consciously think about how many spaces I'm using...

Heidi C. Vlach said...

I plead the fifth. One versus two spaces is one of those things where no matter how I do it, someone always claims I need to go reread Strunk and White until I stop failing so hard.

Anonymous said...

I learned two spaces in high school typing. I've since unlearned it and my productivity has soared! Just think of all the time you save not adding that extra space.

Carradee said...

The biggest issue for me is consistency in something, but I definitely prefer the 2. It's easier to read.

Jenn said...

ONE!

As a formal editorial wonk who had to go through manuscripts chapter by chapter to search and replace period-space-space with period-space, I beg you, please don't make your poor, hardworking editorial assistant do that chore.

annathepiper said...

I was originally taught two spaces--until I started writing on the computer and one space became acceptable. Now I default to one space. But hey, if an agent or editor says to me that they'd really prefer two spaces, it's not a big deal to me. That's what global search and replace is for.

Seriously, what irritates me way more is abuse of apostrophes. Don't get me started on "your" vs. "you're" and "it's" vs. "its". ;)

Nocturnal Intellect said...

Wow, I am the one that is always different, but we only have two choices here, so I have to do it: NO SPACES AT ALL! *wink*

Katie Darby said...

I briefly worked for a magazine whose style guide omitted the penultimate comma to "save print space," yet they used two spaces after the period. This has burned an irrational (but no less fiery!) hatred of the double-spacing after a period.

Just one space! From a copyeditor.

Lady Glamis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

I'm eighteen, barely know what a typewriter is, learned to type when I was ten, and I've always used two spaces. My parents are published authors and use two spaces as well. That's the way I was taught, and, as far as I know, the way it is still taught.

Heather Harper said...

I was taught two after in a manuscript and one after in a query/synopsis.

Lady Glamis said...

I believe Natalie:

http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2008/12/why-you-dont-need-two-spaces.html

was the one who started this whole thing.... I haven't read through the comments to see if this was already brought up.

But then I did a post on my own blog about this.

And then apparently Lotus has mentioned it, too. Wow! What a snowball.

Well, here's my take on my blog:

http://theinnocentflower.blogspot.com/2009/01/sounds-of-silence-almost.html

And here it is from THE BIBLE FOR EDITORS:

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/OneSpaceorTwo/OneSpaceorTwo03.html

I get really passionate about this kind of stuff. My minor was technical writing, and we would have wars about this in college.

other lisa said...

There's a controversy about this? It's not two?

Ashley said...

Wow. We are a really opinionated group when it comes to spaces!!

I tried to check back in on this blog twice over the last 10 minutes and both times I got an error saying there was too much traffic on the site.

Too funny!

Misssy M said...

There should even be a debate. It's one space after a comma and two spaces after a full-stop. I beleive that to be international law.

Sorry, I don't do "periods"- that's something else entirely.

Professor Tarr said...

Just wait til we degenerate into Boxers/Briefs; Ginger/MaryAnn!

Michael said...

I was taught two spaces. It became a habit and it's not important enough to me to retrain myself to only hit the space bar once after a period.

Misssy M said...

You also spell believe with "ie". The fact that I didn't lends incredibility to my spaces assertion...but don't let that dissuade you.

Anonymous said...

I bet two spaces doesn't mean crap when an agent is looking for a good story. I doubt, we'll ever hear, "WOW, that was a good story, but I can't take on an author who spaces twice after the end of a sentence." HAHAHA, yea right!

Cyndi said...

I took graphic design and pre-press technology in college. In my typography class we were taught when typesetting a ms to Find & Replace every instance of double spaces with single. Can you imagine having to do this to a 100k word ms? Have some sympathy for the poor copyeditor and use one space.

Carley said...

I was taught two spaces, but then this was on a typewriter. I never use two now though, it just looks wierd to me. So I voted two because that's what I was taught, not what I actually do! :)

Nikki Hootman said...

ONE SPACE ONLY!

Two spaces is an obsolete holdover from the manual typewriter days. That we're even discussing this is just another example of how far the publishing industry lags behind the times.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Two. I've noticed some comments about that habit being an old-fashioned remnant from the days of typewriters, but I'm 25 and that's the way I've learned it from kindergarten. Two spaces also gives me an advantage if I need to send a manuscript to someone who absolutely requires one space after a period*: I can find and replace all those instances down to one space. Doing it the other way around would be much more difficult.

*(Note: I do not know if such people actually exist, but thier hypothetical existence works for my argument.)

Kait Nolan said...

I realize that the two space thing is a remnant from typewriters, and it is what I was taught in keyboarding in the 7th grade (approximately 16 years ago). I personally find having two spaces after a period easier on the eyes as I read. I can more easily see the end of one sentence and the beginning of another. Frankly, I think publishing has more important things to worry about--like the quality and content of the work.

Furious D said...

I was taught 2 spaces, and that's what I'm gonna do til the day I die, dagnabbit!

Lisa said...

Oprah can't believe she's still talking about weight and I can't believe anybody's still talking about this.

Yeah, yeah all of us (including me) who used a typewriter were taught two spaces after a period.

We don't use typewriters anymore. Let's get over it. Insistence on two spaces after a period says something about a person, and I'm pretty sure it isn't necessarily good.

Grace Peterson said...

I was taught the two space rule back in the dark ages--high school. When I began writing my column 2003, my editor informed me that I needed to use one space. So I think it's something that is changing with the times.

Annie said...

Three.

Lisa Dez said...

I'm wearing out my keyboard fast enough already. If I hit the spacebar twice after every period there'd be a hole in it by now.

Doug said...

In such an auspicious and inflammatory issue it looks like we will have to follow Congress's lead and compromise. Use 1.5 spaces.

:-D

Anonymous said...

I've noticed the one space people are hostile. Sheesh. Okay, maybe the two-spacers among us (even those old-fashioned 20-somethings in the crowd) are dead wrong. I highly doubt that using one space is going to give you a great advantage in the publishing world, but even if it does, some of you are so obnoxious, your agents/publishers will drop you anyway.

Sherri said...

I'm probably saying something someone else already said, but dang, that's a lotta comments!

I learned to type using two spaces, but retrained myself to use one for two reasons:
1. Computer fonts don't require them (as already stated by many) and,
2. The file is made much, much larger by all those extra spaces. Even though they look blank to us, the computer has to compile them all, adding unnecessary bulk to your document files. That's the main reason I switched.

bitemymoko said...

As a journalist, I was taught to leave one space after a period. The idea is to squeeze as many words as possible into small areas, so adding an extra space would defeat the purpose.

But if agents and publishers are going to judge my manuscript based solely on how many spaces I use, as opposed to, oh I don't know, writing talent, then they are idiots.

Life is too short (and I'm too old) to deal with idiots. When are we, the writers, going to put a stop to the tail wagging the dog?

Amy said...

My understanding is due to the use of computers we only use one. Two spaces were used on typewriters when the spaces were smaller.

It's that simple! :)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm old fashioned, and not only that, getting OLD! Can't see as well as I used to, so two spaces help this editor's tired eyes.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

That said, I often go in and remove the extra space in my own submissions. :)

How's that for a compromise? er, can I vote twice?

Nathan Bransford said...

bitemymoko-

Good grief. I would wager that no agent has passed on someone because they used either one or two spaces in the history of publishing.

Deep breaths, my friend. Deep breaths.

Melissa said...

One.

When I published a book several years ago, my editor asked me to strip out the double spaces before submitting the final manuscript. I've done one space as a matter of rote ever since. (And glad enough of it, since one space is correct in the business world.)

Caroline said...

I'd like to join the ranks of the twenty somethings who double space- maybe it became retro? I learned how to type using a manual on a word processor, by writing my first novel (may it rest in peace), and by taking a typing class on a computer in Junior High. In that order. So I have no idea when I picked up the double space habit.

I agree that it's tricky to change. The doc size arguments are compelling, though.

BJ said...

I use two spaces in my own writing. I like the extra whitespace between sentences -- it gives a clear division.

That said, the company I work for prefers one, so I use one at work. One actually came to be standard on computers during the beginning of the internet, because the markup languages (HTML) don't recognize the second space.

In my internet journey, I've found some editors prefer one space, some prefer two. So, I keep the two in mine. If an editor asks me to remove the extra space, it's a simple find/replace. You can't add an extra space that way. I sincerely doubt whether the number of spaces one uses is going to affect whether your manuscript is purchased or not.

Jordyn said...

ONE SPACE.
I was taught double-space in school when I learned to type but quietly switched over to single-space because I liked it so much better & it makes more sense.

earthchick said...

I had no idea there was a debate until I read this post. I've always used two spaces (everywhere except for Twitter) and my editors never told me otherwise. I also put two spaces after colons!

Josephine Damian said...

I taught myself to type and so it's ONE space for me.

I lecture writers who use two spaces brecause it dates you as a certain (old) age - you reveal your AARP status by your typing
habits.

B. Nagel said...

In college, the English program used the MLA style book. I had two years with two spaces and two years with one space (starting in 2004). Also, the possessive of Jones changed from Jones' to Jones's. That was the difficult change.

The Ms. S. said...

"Rivers of white space".

That's what an instructor in page layout told us (in an ominous voice) would be the result of using two spaces.

I shuddered and listened.

drachin8 said...

I prefer to use a random spacing algorithm--essentially a small program run on my finished manuscripts which randomly replaces every space with zero to five space characters. I find it makes the narrative far more interesting...

...

Okay, you got me. I grew up on two spaces, but switched over to one about a year or so ago. It took me a couple of weeks to adjust, but now my old two spaced stories just look weird to me.

ColoradoKate said...

"Perhaps a more scientific survey would be to ask the person's age as well. I'm betting that all of us 35 years and older would be voting for two spaces."

Okay, wait a minute. I'm older than dirt, so of course I learned to use two spaces on a manual typewriter. That said, when I started writing for submission I learned that one space was now the norm.

So I switched. It took less than a week to get used to it. It's no big deal, folks. Many things in life are much harder, trust me.

I voted for one space, and I'm well over 35.

wonderer said...

One.

I'm a copyeditor as well, using the Chicago Manual of Style, which requires one space. I learned to type with two (and I'm only 29), but I switched. It wasn't that hard.

Marc Vun Kannon said...

2. After a comma use one.

Craven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
:)Ash said...

Nathan:

You have a way of asking the touchy questions, don't you? :)

Two spaces. I'm 27. I went to school for 20 years. Two spaces seemed to be the norm from grade school through graduate school.

Craven said...

I don't have time to double tap. I barely have time to squeeze in punctuation.

Karen said...

Two, of course. I didn't know there was such controversy. Sad, really.

Mary said...

Two spaces looks ugly and very old-fashioned. I find it particularly odd in short letters -- as if the recipient needs a six-sentence correspondence chopped into bite-sized pieces. It is also a waste of energy. Why hit the space bar twice when once will do?!

Rob said...

Here's a fun wrinkle. When I submitted my manuscript to my publisher last year, they only requested a printed, paper copy. When I got the version back from them for final approval, the one last edit, none of the typos I found were in my original file.

Yes, apparently there are at least some publishers who are still RETYPING manuscripts rather than working off the author's file. Speaking of old skool. No deleting of extra spaces required at that point, I guess.

Which is good, because I am a unrepentant two-spacer.

Caroline Steele said...

One, out of habit, because I learned far too late that two spaces was the supposed 'rule'. But I don't notice either way, which also gives me no reason to change.

lotusgirl said...

Wow! What a response! Thanks for throwing this one out there. Ahem! I feel so honored. I'd like to thank the academy and Nathan...LOL!

I learned to type on a manual typewriter a very long time ago, and "2 spaces" was DRILLED into my head.

I've been working on eliminating my extra space for the last few weeks. The one space makes a lot of sense. Now when I see the 2 spaces between sentences, they gape at me like they are sticking their tongue out.

My husband thinks it's not worth the effort to switch, but I'm being an old dog that likes learning new tricks. *quickly checks back over all I've typed to make sure there are no 2 spaces gaping*

I'm still not sure if this isn't some vast conspiracy to drive a wedge between the generations. I'm just saying...

Jim said...

Hopefully this is one of those issues that silly writers angst over rather than actually write and/or mail out their queries.

Really saves room in the slush piles for the rest of us. ;)

benwah said...

Nice to see that a simple yes/no question about a triviality like this results in nearly 180 comments. Plot? Characterization? Query? Bah. Let's navel gaze on appropriate method of word count and the spacing after periods.

My vote, Nathan, is a big ole who cares.

ella144 said...

The rule is two spaces after a period. Using one space after a period has become a commonly accepted practice on the Internet and in other places for various reasons, but that doesn't make it correct.

That said, if my editor wanted one space, no problem. If he or she wanted two, so be it.

CathM said...

Like many have already voiced. I was taught 'two spaces, obviously'. But, I've been told by agents/publishers/published writers that the two space ruling is old skool and it is 'one space, clearly'. So - my vote's with one space! But does it really matter?

Alexa said...

I never knew this was a thing until I saw Lady Glam's post on it. I was never taught to type but somehow I use two spaces - mystery!

Anonymous said...

Can I just say that this whole "one space or two" issue came about solely because MS programmers can't program!!!

The old Word program used to have "issues" with line wrapping when there were 2 spaces at the end of the sentence. Before that little "glitch" got corrected, folks started just putting one space there.

BTW, Corel WordPerfect never had any such issues (it also doesn't arbitrarily re-format your manuscript, mysteriously change fonts, or just crash). This, and many other "issues" with Word would be why I refuse to write novels in Word. **arggg**.

J.F.

Di and Tom said...

you only do two spaces when you are in college... in the real world, time is money and taking the time for that extra space is a waste of money.

-Ann said...

I do editing from time to time and one of the last things I do is run a Find and Replace to replace every incident of two spaces with one space. It's a hold over from typewriters and scrunched in typesetting.

Brian Davidson said...

I learned to type using a typewriter, and had the two-space rule drilled into my brain. But I got over it. Because I hated the two-space rule. Nobody could ever explain to me why it was such a grand idea.

So, as Virginia Woolf would say, One, only one.

Jeanne said...

It's been so long since I've visited this site- been so busy with new homeschooling venture (Not out of desire- out of necessity. Kids in my daughter's "wonderful" middle school were having full on SEX in the stairwell prior to Christmas break. Not daughter of course. Anyway, enough was enough.) So glad to find that the topic of discussion is something I care about. ha.
TWO spaces. :) And that is what I'll teach Julia.

RED STICK WRITER said...

I also learned to use two spaces in 1967 in a high school typing class. An exception was learned the following year in my high school journalism class. Apparently newspapers prefer to use the space gained from using only a single space after periods for the folks who pay most of the freight, advertisers. Even papers of moderate size gain a significant amount of column inches for sale through this practice.

Colorado Writer said...

Two spaces. I believe Word makes me do it, but it might also be the 8th grade typing teacher who would smack your hand with a ruler if you let your wrists touch the desk.

cgeye said...

Two spaces, because I'll never know if my writing will be cut-and-pasted into a monofont setting.

However, anything I do for academia requires one space, because of their conversion processes.

Linda said...

I was a two beat girl until an editor told me to change it to one. So I did. Page count shrunk, too - delightful side effect. Peace, Linda

Meg said...

One. I grew up learning on to type on the computer. My mom had an old typewriter that my sister and I would play with. My mom says two spaces.

Anonymous said...

OK, When typing on a word processor...two spaces.
On the internet with e-mail or blogging...one space.

(But I voted for two spaces due to well embedded and probably out of fashion principles.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Dorinda,
A note from a dyslectic:
I used to say Wa La (or Waa Laa) too until my Dad caught me writing it. I guess I had never heard it pronounced very well. I had the idea right, but hey, sometimes you miss something, (like Gilda Radner's nevermind lady).
He gently asked if I had meant "voila."
I did.

Amber Lynn Argyle said...

It's one.
I promise.
Faster, easier, less paper. Plus, it's standard.
Two is old school. And who wants to be old?

Dick Margulis said...

I can't bear to read all these comments, so forgive me if this has been pointed out, but the canard about two spaces making sentence endings more visible with monospaced type on a typewriter is pure urban myth.

The historical reason has to do with when the typewriter was first commercialized, in the latter part of the nineteenth century. At that time--just before William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement started focusing on the "color of the page," (as typographers call it)--commercial typesetting, particularly in the U.S., was suffering through a period of low craftsmanship, as sharp operators padded typesetting charges by adding huge amounts of extra space after sentences (look at low-end commercial work of that period in any antiquarian bookstore if you don't believe me). The type writer was introduced into the office environment as a way for businesses to simulate typeset work in-house, thus saving costs. Mechanical limitations of the design forced a number of compromises, of course, among them the phenomenon of monospacing.

To promote the use of this device, secretarial schools began teaching typing, and at the manufacturers' suggestion they taught a double space after a period to better simulate the lousy commercial typesetting of the day.

Now if you have ever met a graduate of a secretarial school, you understand that once some factoid is enshrined in a textbook, it is going to be taught that way until the end of time, no matter what takes place in the world outside. This applies to grammar, and it applies to typing.

So while the world of typography underwent a revolution in quality and aesthetics that made a uniform color of the page the highest goal of the compositor, the secretarial schools kept on teaching two spaces after a period. It had and has nothing whatever to do with readability. It's just an anachronism. Get over it.

In any case, it makes no difference which way you type. The compositor is going to ignore your double spaces regardless.

Anonymous said...

I voted for two spaces! I think it puts more emphasis on the individual sentences, which is nice, and I like doing things the traditional way. :)

To God be the glory,
A SF writer

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