Double? Trouble.

You might recall how thrilled I was to have Tara writing an article for the spring issue of Ye Olde Publishing Company’s parenting magazine. But when she had me look over a rough draft last night, my excitement turned to despair. Not because she had left any participles dangling or mispelt werds. My wife is a solid writer! I’m afraid the sin she had committed was far worse.

She inserted two spaces after every period.

I gasped out loud. Literally. That was followed by a “Nooooo!!!” so long and drawn-out it required three exclamation marks.

Here’s the thing: nothing in the world bugs me more than double spacing after a period. It’s an antiquated habit that dates back to the Typewriter Era. Back then, an extra space was needed to indicate the beginning of a new sentence because the spacing between words on a typewriter was uneven. Every letter was given the same amount of space, be it an l or a w, which led to some pretty janky-looking sentences.

Fortunately, monospaced typesetting, as it is called, went the way of the dinosaur when modern word processors and proportional fonts came along.

I should clarify: it didn’t turn into oil, but rather, disappeared.

Yet, some people cling to this frivolous habit…even when called out on it. I once got into a heated Facebook exchange over the double space debacle that rivaled that of the current political divide.

People are passionate about this and refuse to acknowledge the error of their ways even though Slate says “Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong” and Microsoft Word flags two spaces as an error and all the major style guides concur that a single space is the correct way to go. Even Jennifer writes, “Nothing says over 40 like two spaces after a period!”

Listen to Jennifer. She is wise.

Not that Tara isn’t, of course. It doesn’t matter anyway; I’m going to edit her gardening article before submitting it, and you can bet your ass there will only be one space after those periods.

And you thought I had strong opinions about the Oxford comma

(Man alive, I’m rivaling Autumn Ashbough in the hyperlinks-per-square-inch category today.)

Speaking of Oxford commas, back in 2013 I went toe-to-toe with my boss over the whole thing. It’s two hyperlinks back, if you want to read about that. Suffice it to say, my attempt to convince him to adopt the Oxford comma for official use in our corporate communications failed miserably. So, when I started my job at CenturyCo, I debated even mentioning any sort of preference. After all, my boss comes from the world of journalism, where Oxford commas are a no-no. Did I really want to march into another losing battle?

Well, the answer is yes, because I’m a Taurus (ergo, stubborn). I pleaded my case with her and, much to my surprise and delight, even though the company officially adheres to AP style, she acquiesced and said she was fine with making exceptions to the rules in certain cases. I learned later that my Team Oxford predecessor had made a similar argument in favor of adopting it a year earlier and was summarily shot down. Which means either I’m more persuasive or my boss was simply too worn down to put up another fight.

Clearly, she is not a Taurus.


In other news, after an abnormally warm winter (which you are probably well aware of because I’ve been bitching incessantly about it for months), our weather is about to turn cold. How cold? Real cold, yo.

I’m totally okay with this. I didn’t move to South Dakota for 60-degree winters! Plus, we bought ¾ of a cord of wood that we’ve only used sparingly and have the grooviest basement this side of 1974. The more excuses we have to build roaring fires and hang out down there, the better.

They’re also forecasting a little snow, and while a lot of snow would be better since we’re in the midst of a persistent strong drought, we’ll take whatever moisture we can get at this time.

Hope you have a great weekend!



Categories: writing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. OM gosh, Mark. I have researched the two space thing in the past and mixed information online. I greatly appreciate you clarifying this point and the “why” behind it. I have been lucky to have a couple of stories published, one in an online magazine and one actually a hard copy, and no one called me out on it. Maybe they were too kind, or easily formatted the stories. I am embarrassed I am at fault along with your wonderful Tara. I respect everything you say, Mark, and from this day forward I will retrain myself. 😀I want to be corrected and I greatly appreciate constructive criticism. Maybe it is the spinach between my teeth thing…..please let me know! Do publications toss your story if you have used two spaces? Asking for a friend.😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nope. Nope. Nope.
    One space after a comma, semicolon and colon. Two spaces after the end of a sentence… Period, question mark or exclamation point! It is horrible on the eyes to have sentences run into each other without the extra space as an additional indication that this is different than just space between two words!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Guess you feel strongly about this. Like I said on Facebook, it was hard for me to break the habit too, but I’ll tell you, the first time I sent a manuscript to a literary agent and they told me to use single spacing if I ever wanted to be taken seriously, I was a convert. Never looked back. As a writer with both style and brand guides to adhere to, all of which specify single spacing, I really have no choice anyway. I’m sure it’s not nearly as big a deal for most people, so if you want to keep adding those extra spaces after your punctuation, go for it.

      Like

    • The intersting thing is that your comment, Rob, only has one space between sentences. That’s because most websites apply automatic sentence formatting when you submit info. So even though you may have *typed* two spaces after each period when leaving your comment, it’s displaying with only one space. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t believe you called out my hyperlinks-per-square-inch! (Andy laughed so hard when I read him that sentence.)

    It’s the history major in me–I’m compelled to cite my sources. Especially when I’m blogging about current events (or denigrating certain dog breeds). Also, I’ve found that I get a lot less mansplaining commentary if I overwhelm readers with facts.

    And if you want to be on Team Oxford Comma, Team Hyperlinks is a prerequisite.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must be over forty. I like lots of space between my sentences. Don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Damn. I inserted like, six spaces after each of my sentences just now. Stupid WordPress autocorrected it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Neither my boss nor the person who writes the press releases with the boss, use Oxford commas. I always insert them when I edit. Then I ship off those pr’s before either of them is the wiser. Suckas.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am a staunch advocate of the Oxford comma, and my boss is notorious for putting two spaces after a period, which drives me bonkers. Formatting be damned!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oxford commas matter (for real, they’ve impacted the result of legal cases!) and I applaud your success. Double spaces after periods are body memory I’m never going to break at this point (save the children!) and am thankful most HTML strips them out to one unless they are specifically coded to be there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oxford comma, yes. Double space? That’s a double no from me as well. Of course I’m the girl who does this…. so what do I know?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh dear, I have to disagree about the two spaces after a period. I know it’s not the done thing anymore but I love those spaces. Makes it easier to read what is front of me, especially if I’m interrupted while reading. I can find where I was much faster. Also, love the Oxford comma.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Maybe nothing says over 40 like being able form a complete sentence with proper punctuation and grammar. 🤪
    Really I didn’t know that the double spacing after a period was obsolete. I still do it and wondered why WordPress was marking it as an error. Thank you for the education. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It takes me a long time to give up the two spaces, but that’s just because that’s how I learned to type. The thing I find so funny, is that the ardent Double-Spaces insist that the two spaces make stuff easier to read, but at the same time, even though most websites automatically remove the extra spaces, I’ve never heard anyone COMPLAIN that it’s hard to read comments etc. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I laughed so hard at the “she’s a solid writer” bit! HAHAHA! HOHOHO! LOLZ <— me
    I also work in a field where the Oxford comma is not practiced and it makes me crazy. Therefore, I employ the Oxford comma consistently when writing my professional correspondence, be it paper letter, email, or fax. (My field is big on the fax.)
    I began internet with two spaces, dunno when I gave it up. Don't miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

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