Maybe you guys can help me. I’ve been having a grammar
feud discussion with a friend of mine, and I don’t want to get into naming names, so let’s call her Blori.
So it all erupted when we started discussing – and I mean, how many of us don’t talk about this every day – in printed documents, how many spaces go after a period. One or two?
Now, before she shed her mortal coil and joined the angels and Baby Jesus in heaven, saintly Sister Cephas instructed me: “Dear little Steve, always use two spaces after a period.” To which I replied, “Yes, Sister.” – and happily went about the rest of my education using two spaces in righteousness.
Now imagine my surprise when Blori ranted the other day (you could practically smell the bile, or maybe that was sulphur, hmmm?), “There is only ONE SPACE after a sentence!”
And so, dear readers, I ask you to vote – how many spaces should be placed after a sentence?
(And remember, Baby Jesus and Sister Cephas are watching…)
52 thoughts on “Space Wars”
But really, kids these days can’t be asked to type out the whole word “you.” Also, two spaces after colons and the state before the zip code.
I’d forgotten about the spaces between the state abbreviation and the zip code. Good one!
I was taught one space during my Catholic school upbringing. Hmmm.
You must be remembering incorrectly.
I’m going to have to actually try it. There. It’s one.
I think that in typing class though I did learn two. Weird. Obviously I didn’t learn it very well!
I tried to be a smart-axx once and send Blori a message with 3 spaces between sentences — and the app auto-corrected it back. To one space.
One space. Unless you’re drunk.
(Oops – sorry, Sister). ;)
I was also taught that there were two spaces. Maybe rules are different for print copy editors…
That being said, “Blori’s” grammar rage face should not be trifled with!
Do not mess with an angry Blori!
Two, unless you’re up against a 140 character limit. :-)
G — or a grant application where space is limited!
I agree with Garloo. Twitter trumps everything else, but the rest of the time, it’s two.
Crap, I just looked in the Chicago Manual of Style that I used during grad school; it says one space.
Middle school cannot be wrong, can it?
Manual schmanual, I say!
I always thought it was 2 spaces on the printed page, but only 1 space on the screen. Now that I do practically nothing printed any more, it’s always one space for me.
H — it is fair to say that when Sister Cephas was teaching us, there were no terminal screens!
I took typing classes back when there were secretaries (always women) who typed letters for their bosses (usually male). The rule was two spaces between sentences. One space is used after semicolons, commas and other punctuation “breakers.” Later, when I was typing term papers for beer money, I was told to put two spaces after the period. Period.
Two spaces, and a cup of coffee with that, ok hon? Thanks.
Would you believe that you are both correct? Back in the day of the manual typewriter, the rule was hard and fast and it was “two spaces after a period”. That was because fonts were not proportionally spaced and so extra room was needed to indicate the end of a sentence. Since then, the creation of proportional fonts has changed the rule to “One space after a period except when it is two (i.e., for fixed fonts).”
I should have read this before I replied! Ditto could have been my answer. Wait- how many people remember what a ditto even is?????
As in Partisan America, such a thoughtful answer is unacceptable!
Though to be honest, when I full-justify a page (like on a grant), I usually go to one, because two ends up looking “wrong”.
Nope, nope, nope. No sitting on the fence. You have to choose a side. 8:-)
Way back in the dark ages, when typewriters were the hottest thing, the double space was used at the end of a sentence. Now, I am not sure of the reason why exactly, only one space is needed. I would be interested to know the ages of the people voting for 2 spaces. I have a feeling there is a generation gap showing here.
Yes — I think us “old-schoolers” weren’t taught the “new-fangled” single space lesson when we were walking uphill to school both ways. :)
In the snow, don’t forget the snow.
Well, some of us anyway.
Basically, if I’m writing it, I put as many spaces as I darned well want in between my sentences. Two.
Damn straight! — oops, sorry Sister
That’s why I said darned … I’m not Catholic, but I don’t want to be beaten with a wooden ruler either.
When I took typing I was taught to use two spaces. I still use two spaces. Anything else looks wrong. And my computer only corrects me if I use three or more spaces. It seems to be equally happy with either one or two.
I am detecting a “learned two spaces when typing” versus “learned one space on the computer…” generation gap here.
I was taught two, in typing class. I have been using 2 spaces ever since!
Mr says that the old standard was two spaces after a period. The new business practice is one space after a period. (no one told me this!!!)
Apparently, we’re cutting back everywhere!
I always used two unless I had a character limit, mostly texting. Now I often use one when writing on the iPad. If you are done with a sentence you can hit the space bar twice and it adds a period and ONE space for you! Who would have thought there were such strong opinions out there about it?
T — well, if you could have heard the vehemence of Blori’s tirade, you’d have realized that it was a pretty sore topic! :)
I am surprised the Blori hasn’t weighed in here yet! Come on Blori.
Although from what I remember is that her reasoning is that of venera4’s up there. It USED to be appropriate for two spaces, but now is not. But hey, I’m all about tradition!
And in writing this response I have realized that I have actually switched to using one space after a period. I wonder when that happened. I blame Blori.
Me too! Let’s get her!
Well, as Blori, I must vote for one space. ONE SPACE. *laser eyes*
So does the AP Style Guide. So does the Chicago Manual of Style. Which means pretty much all books, newspapers, and magazines say one space. Which counts for a lot of votes!
Also, I took a copyediting class in graduate school, and they reiterated the one space rule. Graduate school with a degree in publishing whips Catholic grammar school with a ruler.
So, I don’t care about the votes. I AM RIGHT. *laser eyes*
Well, Cori — if that’s your real name — I suppose if you want to go along with your egghead, elitist “Manuals” and “graduate” courses, then perhaps you are correct. But last time I checked this is still Amurrica and THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN!!
Well aside from “manuals” and “graduate” courses, you do have to worry about the laser eyes. They often settle debates.
Laser eyes win every time!
TWO. : )
You should’ve allowed “other.”
I was “raised” (could read and write before kindergarten–taught by my northerner/ pseudo-Canadian mother British English, which I broke from at uni *but* it sneaks in from time to time) using 2.
In the last 5 years, since I started a wee writing group, I was beaten over the head and corrected as to many things (hey, *I* didn’t study English or writing–art major, dur?), including 1 space after a stop. So, I’ve changed that, too. It’s always something. People are so demanding — I don’t actually mind rules but they CHANGE the rules on me!
I was taught throughout grade school, especially in typing class, to use two spaces between sentences, but only one space after colons, semicolons, commas and periods used in abbreviations (including one space between the state and zip code of addresses). However, I have learned to use only one space between sentences for online publishing after many forums reduced my double spaces to single spaces after sentences. As others have pointed out, it’s a style issue. Go with what your employer or publishing company prefers. If it’s for your own blog, do as you like or follow the style guide of your choosing.
i can’t vote because the factual response is “depends upon the font”. for kerned fonts (which most computer apps use), the rule is 1 space (because the whole point of kerning is correct spacing). for mono-type fonts (including typewriters), it is 2 spaces.
i only know this because I was studying “printing technology” as we moved from monotype to kerned fonts and it was part of our lessons. it still took me years to break the double-space habit.
I learned typewriting on typewriters that stenographers and secretaries used before the computer era. After the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, there was a period and TWO SPACES. ALWAYS. And I continue the convention.
Oh, it seems I don’t follow the convention, as I read my previous comment again ! Now I am confused. Thanks Steve..Hrmmmmph !
I too remember from Typing class to use 2 spaces, but once I started using the computer I went with the accepted single space.
I think the information others have mentioned about the spacing being based on the font used, makes a whole lot of sense as to why there are two different ‘rules’.
Well, I am way late on this. I, too, was taught two spaces after a period in middle and high school typing classes. Not too long ago I learned that this is passe, and one is the new norm so I’ve changed my two-space ways. It took a while to retrain my right thumb to only hit the space bar once. So, um, I vote one and two?
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John Scalzi (and Farhad Manjoo) weigh in on this: