Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spaces after periods

I never thought I would have to talk about the number of spaces after periods in a workshop setting. I've just had it ingrained in my brain for so many years now (since I first started learning MLA) that you put one space after periods, not two. It's also what we teach people in typing and word procesessing classes. It's the new way. Putting two spaces after a period is very old school. (I will admit, until sometime mid-college, I was also convinced that you should put two spaces after a period, until I found out that rule was archaic.)

Here is an explanation from :

Today, using just one space is correct. In BC times (Before Computers), printing presses and typewriters used letters that were all the same width. To help readers see that a new sentence was starting, we inserted two spaces. Today, computers compensate for the varying widths of letters. An "m" no longer takes up the same amount of space as an "i" does. Thanks to these proportional fonts, we no longer need that extra space.

Even the Chicago Manual of Style says that one space is correct. But it seems like everyone still has their own opinion about this topic. I'd like to hear what you think.


Laurie said...

I want the editors who will be reading our stuff to come out of the closet.


"I am a one-spacer."


"I am a two-spacer."

Then I can modify what I send accordingly.

'Cause reading whichever format you don't like is hard on the eyes, and I want to be easy on the eyes whatever the preference.


Plus now I'm in a real quandary. My one writing group is a two-spacer and my other writing group is a one-spacer.

And both are really adamant.

I'm probably gonna go with the meaner writing group on this. (Duck Soup is too kind to ridicule and cause tears.)

Here is Anne Mini on the subject. I found her more than a year ago while I was preparing my first book to send out, and on her advice I added another space after every period - (I was one of those rare people who didn't take typing101 in high school - ye gads.)

Quote from Anne's site:
[After writers were advised to omit one of the spaces after a period] the result was pretty dramatic: mysteriously, half the submissions agents received were harder to read, and the change happened more or less overnight — and since most agents don’t read even the major writing blogs, it seemed to come out of nowhere.

How loud were those howls, you ask? Suffice it to say that the grumbles continue to this day. No one who edits text for a living would vote for this particular change. To most professional eyes, it still just — chant it with me now, readers of this series — looks wrong.

Crystalee will you still read my stuff if I keep the extra space? Or will you hate me forever?

Janet, said...

I'm of the old school and always did two spaces after a sentence. Only last year was I told it was wrong to do so. In my opinion I think it would be rather cruel of an editor to reject a manuscript just because someone put two spaces after a sentence other than one space. They should be more concerned with the topic and quality of the writing.

Dawn Embers said...

I remember when I was younger that in school we were taught to do the two spaces after a period. Don't remember why, but do know that's what was taught. I started to do the one space on my one in high school I think, or college... probably high school.

At least they are putting spaces in. I read an entry recently that didn't have spaces after periods or commas. I couldn't believe my eyes at first.

Anonymous said...

haha same here. i was a two spacer then converted to a one spacer! but now with my ipod touch when i type on it if i space twice it adds a period and one space, but i'm still spacing twice so it confuses everything in my mind....

Crystalee said...

Laurie, of course I won't hate you forever and I'll still read your stuff! It's more of the font you use that bugs my eyes, I think. I'm a standard Times New Roman or Arial kind of girl.

Laurie said...

He he he -- You and my other writing group are at serious odds with each other :-)

That is so weird.

Here is a copy/paste from their submission guidelines.

"Use COURIER for the entire work: text of the story, headers, title, byline, everything. You should have only Courier and no other font anywhere in your manuscript."

Crystalee said...

Laurie, is that the Sci-Fi-ish group that insists on Courier?

I checked SCBWI and couldn't find any guidelines that said appropriate font choices. It just baffles my mind that some people go against the standard fonts. I mean, Times New Roman is the default font in word for a reason!

And just because a certain writing group prefers a certain font, doesn't mean publishers will. I'm also thinking that maybe opinions differ between genres.

Laurie said...

Yes - It's a sci-fi group.

At least changing fonts is an easy fix for the eyes :-)

ctrl a.
font Times New Roman.