Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spaced Out

Spaces between sentences. I can’t remember what brought about this thought, but I’m guessing it was something boring.

When I was in school, we got marked down if we handed in a paper without TWO spaces after the period. College was the same. Two spaces, the professors insisted. Well, the English professors. My science teachers cared not even a little as long as it was in semi-coherent English. But that’s getting off topic.

There’s a lot of talk about what started the two space rule, with some insisting that it has to do with the use of strange devices known as “typewriters” and their monospaced fonts. However, there’s just as good an argument that using two spaces has nothing to do with typewriters, or typesetters and printers desiring a wider space between sentences, and the only reason for the abolishment of two spaces is to lessen printing costs. The only facts that are definite are that large gaps between sentences were common for centuries before the printing press and the typewriter were invented, and using only one space is a recent habit that seems to be getting more popular.

For a while after I started writing, I stuck to the two spaces. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I found out that two was becoming passé, and now even the MLA says one space is preferred for papers and manuscripts (although the APA is still sticking with two). But there are those out there who are literally insane about two being more aesthetically pleasing, and the vitriol is almost as bad as the people who want to abolish the apostrophe.

What say you, peeps? Which did you learn was the “right” one? Which do you use now?


  1. I was taught to type on a (manual) typewriter, and it was definitely two spaces. I know that one space is preferred now, and I have worked to overcome the habit of using two. I've gotten better at it, although I sometimes do slip up.

    It's no biggie. Copy-editors take it out later in the larger publishing companies. Smaller companies want you to go back and take it out, because they are often more short-handed and they will expect their authors to turn in a manuscript with correct formatting.

    Ha, ha -- The first place I learned to reduce the space was on Twitter!

  2. I was taught to double-space in school, but then a published author who critiqued my work informed me that two spaces was too much. I've retrained myself to single-space.

    Abolish the apostrophe? Sacrilege! :P

  3. If you went to school before the 20th century, you most likely learned two spaces. It is the online environment and digitalness that has changed that. It just looks awkward on a computer screen. I did have to make a changeover when I started blogging and had to completely re-adjust the House document to accommodate the single space.

  4. Whoops, I just turned in a paper using a single space.

    I learned double-space-after-period in typing class in the 9th grade. I did that until I read online (a couple years ago now) that it was passe. It took me not as long as I thought it would to reteach myself single space (although I still do double space in texts as the phone fills in the period for me then).

    Now single space is automatic. And that paper... I don't recall anything in the syllabus saying double space after period. I'm not going to worry about. The grammar, at least, is good.

  5. I use single spaces, both in writing for myself, and academics. I never get called out on it by professors, and I don't look for it when I'm marking other papers.


Please validate me.