Search This Blog

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wanna be startin somethin?

Okay, a loooong time ago, I spent two hellish summers taking typing classes.  Yes, I'm old.  We loved the IBM Selectrics, but hated the Royal manuals.  My brother gave me an electric typewriter for Christmas/birthday/graduation that lives out in the garage as we speak, that got a hell of a lot of use.  One of the major things I learned from Mr. Donham was to double space after each period, each sentence, actually. 

I'm doing it now.  It's a habit I've had ingrained for a loooong time. 

Have you noticed, when you post on a blog, a board or Facebook, it's changed to only one space between sentences?  Have you really looked at a book published in the past oh, say, eight years or so and seen that there is only one space between sentences?  Go ahead, look and come back.  We have more to discuss. 

Okay, Smack Upside of the Head for Today: "Using a single space means that you understand that technology has changed since the decades ago when you first used to type." --Alissa Walker, in "Good Design Daily: Do You Double Space After Periods?"
Walker references by Farhad Manjoo, who has gotten almost 1,000 posts, some hateful and angry that she even makes the suggestion we should change.  Current style manuals and typographers are clear that the one space rule should be, well, a rule and still folks are adamant that they won't change. 
Or, as my good friend Pam Asberry put it when she posted this recently:  "Don't hate me.  I'm just the messenger."

Now, these posts give the reason we put the extra space in--typewriters used monospace fonts, where each letter took up the same space.  With these big, fancy computers, the proportional fonts used automatically adjusts the space, because the lower case "i" uses less space than a lower case "m."  When you have a sentence starting with a "W," it truly looks better to have that extra space in there with some fonts.  I can't tell you how much time I spent line editing when I changed fonts on my completed manuscript, because it was easier to see if I had one, two or three spaces between sentences. 

But, earlier this week, I took the advice above and did "Find and replace" for periods, exclamation points, question marks and quotation marks on my 518 page "Seven Days."  When I finished, I looked at the bottom and saw it had gone down to 512 pages.  SIX PAGES (yes, I meant to yell) of extra spaces between sentences. 

Think about it.  That seriously affects your word count.  When it gets scanned in to whatever program, it'll get automatically switched to one space between sentences anyway.  Your angry Comments will be published with only one space between sentences, no matter how hard you pound that space bar twice. 

In other words, this is yet one more thing that has to change, needs to change.  Don't know about you, but I particularly hate change, even though it is often for the good.  Six pages I don't have to sweat over cutting works for me and it was simple to do.  I won't miss those extra spaces and I'll bet you won't either.  If you want to keep typing them, that's fine, just remember to do your search and replace at the end.  You'll get a more accurate word count and take a giant step forward toward what your computer already knows anyway.  And as Pam says, you can teach this old dog some new tricks. 


  1. I know what you mean, I learned the same thing in computer classes in high school, although technology says otherwise. I've been able to make the transition pretty easily as the little colored squiggly line appears below when you type that extra space. C'est la vie!

  2. Great post, Julee! I've been double spacing after periods longer than you have, since I learned to type during the summer between fifth and sixth grade. So if I can do it, ANYONE can. Thanks for the shout-out!

  3. Certainly. Damn it, I just hit the space bar twice again! LOL!