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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » One or two spaces after a period?

   
Author Topic: One or two spaces after a period?
Stephan
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I was told by teachers my entire life to hit the space bar twice after a period. Like this. Now, halfway through my graduate studies in educational technology, my professor is insisting on just one space. Like this.

What really got to me was reading a book on my Kindle this morning, and noticed two spaces quite clearly.

Which is it? As a teacher, what should I teach my students?

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TomDavidson
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Single space. The double space is now outmoded.
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Aris Katsaris
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One space.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Unless you're writing something for publication, it doesn't matter at all.

And even then, it matters very little.

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TomDavidson
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*nod* There are scripts to remove double spaces which are part of standard formatting macros nowadays.
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Samprimary
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If you are using anything with modern typesetting (in effect, if you are not using a literal mechanical nonelectronic typewriter) two spaces after a period is wrong, and on the off chance you are using something which does not automatically format off the extra space FOR you (like most of the internet; try using double space vs single space on your posts and notice how there is no difference whatsoever) your copy editor hates you and has to fix your writing for you if you double space after periods.
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Aros
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Live and die by the Chicago Manual of Style. It switched to single spacing in 2003 (not that long ago for some of us). We need to change with the times.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
I was told by teachers my entire life to hit the space bar twice after a period. Like this. Now, halfway through my graduate studies in educational technology, my professor is insisting on just one space. Like this.

You'll note that both of those appear as a single space when viewing your post.

There's your answer. [Wink]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
*nod* There are scripts to remove double spaces which are part of standard formatting macros nowadays.

The fact that his browser had a macro that was canceling out this extra space, and that he hadn't realized it, made me chuckle.
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rivka
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It's not the browser. It's the forum software.
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
*nod* There are scripts to remove double spaces which are part of standard formatting macros nowadays.

The fact that his browser had a macro that was canceling out this extra space, and that he hadn't realized it, made me chuckle.
Me to, now that has been pointed out to me.
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
It's not the browser. It's the forum software.

Ah! I was just about to ask my professor about that. It is an online class, so why would he care if the browser fixes it. That explains it.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
your copy editor hates you and has to fix your writing for you if you double space after periods.
Like I said, it matters very little.
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Samprimary
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Here guys make the triforce

  ▲
▲ ▲

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Stone_Wolf_
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It will always be double! Don't believe the lies! Our love will never die!
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SteveRogers
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I put seven spaces after my periods.

You just can't see them.

Because they're spaces.

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GinetteB
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Want to go for global publishing? Use one space. We Europeans can't live with the double.
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mr_porteiro_head
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double space == genocide?
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Belle
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I had to retrain myself away from the double space a while back. At first it was hard, but now it's completely easy and natural to only use one space.
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odouls268
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So far in my career as a college student, the Purdue Online Writing Lab has always been provided to us as THE resource for staying up to date on current formatting guidelines for official manuscripts.

According to the OWL, the current MLA guidelines state:

"Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor)."

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

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advice for robots
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GC went the rounds on this a while back. Actually, I was surprised to learn how many people still prefer the double space. I guess I thought it disappeared back around when I stopped using it, circa 9th grade. [Smile]

quote:
Want to go for global publishing? Use one space. We Europeans can't live with the double.
But Europeans, at least the French, can live with extra spaces before colons and percent signs, not to mention commas for decimals. It's a quagmire. [Big Grin]
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Vadon
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As far as I know, the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters. If you use a monospaced font, like Courier, you do a double-space to distinguish it from other uses of a period (like in acronyms). Most typeface choices (like Times New Roman) are variable-width fonts. These fonts are designed to adapt the spacing after a period such that a double-space is not required. I'd cite an online source, but I get this from my brother who does design work and is a bit of a typeface elitist.
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The Rabbit
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I'm not sure I can actually see any practicale relevance in publications. Not only are most common fonts these days variable-width fonts, but almost all publications are right left justified. To accomplish this, its necessary to vary the width of spaces.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
GC went the rounds on this a while back. Actually, I was surprised to learn how many people still prefer the double space. I guess I thought it disappeared back around when I stopped using it, circa 9th grade. [Smile]

quote:
Want to go for global publishing? Use one space. We Europeans can't live with the double.
But Europeans, at least the French, can live with extra spaces before colons and percent signs, not to mention commas for decimals. It's a quagmire. [Big Grin]
Still screws me up after 4 years. You owe me: 4.000,00 CZK... huh? But I pretty much have it down these days.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
As far as I know, the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters. If you use a monospaced font, like Courier, you do a double-space to distinguish it from other uses of a period (like in acronyms).
I use a mono-space font more than I use any other font.
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happymann
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Double space automatically puts a period at the end of the sentence. Try it. [Smile]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:
I had to retrain myself away from the double space a while back. At first it was hard, but now it's completely easy and natural to only use one space.

I've been doing the double space after a period since the mid 70s. It's not a habit I've been able to break. Luckily, it's pretty simple to set the Word options to auto-correct it so I don't have to retrain myself.
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Jeff C.
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I originally wrote double because that was how I was taught, but recently I've noticed the trend back to single. I'm not surprised that it was officially changed. I've also changed to single in the past few years, so I guess it doesn't matter.

I say do what you want. Single looks more normal to me at this point, simply because I don't see double anymore. However, every once in a while, I feel the need to do double and I have to stop myself. Silly, I know, but old habits die hard.

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Happy Camper
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Ever since I started typing I've used a double space. And I've never had anyone complain. However, I've also been in fields that really aren't too nuts about being sure to get everything in formatting exactly right.
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Jon Boy
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
As far as I know, the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters. If you use a monospaced font, like Courier, you do a double-space to distinguish it from other uses of a period (like in acronyms). Most typeface choices (like Times New Roman) are variable-width fonts. These fonts are designed to adapt the spacing after a period such that a double-space is not required. I'd cite an online source, but I get this from my brother who does design work and is a bit of a typeface elitist.

Actually, that's a myth, but one that nearly everybody who thinks they know about spacing believes. (I believed it until recently.) Sentence spacing used to be much larger, and the amount varied over time. But over the course of the twentieth century, the standard moved to just one space. Some may think that two spaces (or an en or em space) looks better, but setting an entire book that way is time-consuming and prone to errors.
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
As far as I know, the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters. If you use a monospaced font, like Courier, you do a double-space to distinguish it from other uses of a period (like in acronyms). Most typeface choices (like Times New Roman) are variable-width fonts. These fonts are designed to adapt the spacing after a period such that a double-space is not required. I'd cite an online source, but I get this from my brother who does design work and is a bit of a typeface elitist.

Actually, that's a myth, but one that nearly everybody who thinks they know about spacing believes. (I believed it until recently.) Sentence spacing used to be much larger, and the amount varied over time. But over the course of the twentieth century, the standard moved to just one space. Some may think that two spaces (or an en or em space) looks better, but setting an entire book that way is time-consuming and prone to errors.
From the article
quote:

By the end of the Second World War most American books and an increasing proportion of English books were printed following the typewriter's English spacing approximation rules.[11] Around this time, the practice of single spacing became more prevalent. There were various circumstances which could have contributed to the change. For example, there was an increase in high-volume low-cost mass-produced printing (e.g., newspapers, pulp-novels, magazines). Also, a significant innovation in the typewriter was the breaking of the typewriter "grid" in 1941. "The grid" referred to the uniform spacing of each letter space in the monospaced font used by the typewriter. In 1941, IBM introduced the Executive, a typewriter that used proportional spacing by "breaking each cell of the grid into fifths."[12] Although proportional fonts had been used in various forms in typesetting since the invention of movable type, this innovation broke the hold that the monospaced font had over the typewriter—reducing the severity of its mechanical limitations.

I'm actually having trouble finding where it's a myth. Seems like the article is backing up what my brother said.
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Jon Boy
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You said that "the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters." That's the myth. Extra spacing was standard before typewriters were invented, though it was achieved with a single large space (an em quad). Using two standard spaces on a typewriter was an approximation of current typographical practice and had nothing to do with the fact that typewriters were monospaced.
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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
As far as I know, the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters. If you use a monospaced font, like Courier, you do a double-space to distinguish it from other uses of a period (like in acronyms).

Like in abbreviations. Acronyms do not use periods. [Smile]
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by Speed:
quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
As far as I know, the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters. If you use a monospaced font, like Courier, you do a double-space to distinguish it from other uses of a period (like in acronyms).

Like in abbreviations. Acronyms do not use periods. [Smile]
Whoops. [Smile]

quote:
You said that "the reason the double-space came about was because of monospaced fonts, common with typewriters." That's the myth. Extra spacing was standard before typewriters were invented, though it was achieved with a single large space (an em quad). Using two standard spaces on a typewriter was an approximation of current typographical practice and had nothing to do with the fact that typewriters were monospaced.
Right, and when computers(and according to the wikipedia article, typewriters that broke the "grid") came about with variable-width fonts they were able to more closely approximate the em-quad with a single space. I'm having trouble seeing the whole "myth" aspect of what I said. People want a certain amount of space between their sentences. Monospaced fonts resulted in people wanting two spaces. With variable-width fonts that could create the space for you with a single space, you didn't need to double-space it to get the distance.
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Jon Boy
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But an em quad is not a single space, and a single space in a variable-width font does not "create the space for you". An em quad is equivalent to four or five regular spaces, though sometimes the practice was to use an en space or smaller. Independent of advancements in typewriters or word processors, typesetters began to reduce the amount of space between sentences until it was the same as the amount of space between words. Double-spacing was an approximation of an earlier typographical practice that has now been done away with, and it had nothing to do with variable- or fixed-width fonts.
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Vadon
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And I'm asking you to show me the source of that given what I quoted from the wiki article you provided backs my brother's claim that innovations in fixed and variable width fonts are what helped push out double-spacing after periods. I'm asking you to show me what part of the article is backing what you're saying.
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Jon Boy
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The part of the wiki article that you quoted is speculation, and it's not very well sourced. That whole paragraph is a little muddled. This article gives a pretty thorough history of sentence spacing, though it's prone to using rage caps and ad hominems against people who disagree. If you want to skip all the early historical stuff, scroll down to "The True Origins of the Single-Space Standard". But the whole thing is worth a read.
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
The part of the wiki article that you quoted is speculation, and it's not very well sourced. That whole paragraph is a little muddled. This article gives a pretty thorough history of sentence spacing, though it's prone to using rage caps and ad hominems against people who disagree. If you want to skip all the early historical stuff, scroll down to "The True Origins of the Single-Space Standard". But the whole thing is worth a read.

Worth a read for entertainment purposes, definitely. For someone that characterizes the article from Slate as "self-righteous," the author certainly had a holier-than-thou attitude to the "fool"s and "liar"s they criticized.

But I digress. Here's what I find interesting in this new article.

quote:
But why did the change occur? Here, there seems to be no direct historical account, but there are two theories often given. First, there is the obvious benefit to production cost that comes with reduced spacing. Less whitespace means less paper, which means fewer pages, which means reduced costs. Margins became smaller around this time, and standard interword spaces often went from about 1/3 em to 1/4 em. Is it not surprising that the wide gaps after sentences would have to go as well?

The other theory is that a single uniform space simply required less expertise (and less time) to set. Before the advent of Monotype and Linotype, hand composition was a complex task that required a real craftsman to solve spacing issues from line to line. But the new machines made the process much faster and easier, again reducing cost of production.

Along the way, however, it also reduced the expertise required to set the type. Operators could punch in the letters very quickly, and worrying about different width spaces required time and training to pay closer attention to syntax. Furthermore, when a line needed to be expanded or compressed, it was easier to simply expand or reduce all spaces in a line, rather than to deal with the aesthetics of how to handle the various width spaces (which had complex rules that can be found in many of the manuals cited above).

The death knell for the large sentence space, still imitated by a few Linotype operators in the mid-1900s with a double space, was more new technology. Further automation developed in the era of phototypesetting led to a situation where line breaks and extra spaces were truly problematic. Automatic line breaks could occur between two spaces, thereby beginning a new line with an undesirable empty space. The solution for programmers was simple: phototypesetters would simply ignore extra white space and treat it as an error. All white space would be collapsed to a single, multipurpose space. Spacing was one area where the 1960s marked a great decrease in diversity. No wonder the subsequent editions of the Chicago Manual couldn’t imagine a world with different types of spaces: such a world was made impossible within the bounds of current technology.

In sum, the primary rationale behind the shift was probably not aesthetic, since printers had accepted the same conventions for centuries. Instead, it was a move generated by economic concerns. Publishers wanted cheaper books with less whitespace and less time and expertise to typeset, and the technology they developed required simpler and lazier methods of spacing.

(Emphasis mine)

This author starts by saying there's no direct historical record, offers two theories that are often stated(by who?), then says as a definite "it was a move generated by economic concerns." Plus there were no sources cited within the suggested section of the article. Just emphatic claims that people are lying when presenting two "possible" theories that suddenly become definite by the end.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
The part of the wiki article that you quoted is speculation, and it's not very well sourced. That whole paragraph is a little muddled. This article gives a pretty thorough history of sentence spacing, though it's prone to using rage caps and ad hominems against people who disagree. If you want to skip all the early historical stuff, scroll down to "The True Origins of the Single-Space Standard". But the whole thing is worth a read.

I am going to have to show that article to my professor just for fun. He had us all read the Slate article in his posting about using single spaces.
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Teshi
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I had to inform my mother about the double space not being used any more in around 2008. I have obviously grown up in a world (in a world...) where one space was completely normal because nobody ever told me about this two-space thing until I caught her making two spaces.
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Chris Bridges
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
It's not the browser. It's the forum software.

It's not that, either. Browsers simply don't show more than one space no matter how many you put in unless you use actual HTML code to force a space.
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Jon Boy
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But some forum software will code extra spaces into nonbreaking spaces, which do show up, while other forum software just leaves them as regular spaces, which do not show up.
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aspectre
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But it's still stupid that ya can't space to start a paragraph without using code.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
But some forum software will code extra spaces into nonbreaking spaces, which do show up,

Then there should be some extra protections at the browser level. If a person who still double-spaces after periods is, tragically, not protected by their forum's corrective formatting, it would render this gaffe non-invisible to the world. The browser should step in and automatically detect the presence of someone's shameful fixation on typesetting obsolescence ... and cut out the superfluous post-period spacing, protecting both them and those young or impressionable enough to be drawn towards orthodox ignorance of proper text formatting.
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