I’m outraged!

by DaniGirl on October 18, 2006 · 4 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything, Wordplay

I’m outraged! Outraged, I tell you. Is nothing sacred?

I got a set of documents back from an editor the other day, which in itself is usually enough to twist my knickers. (I’m not so fond of being edited. I don’t mind it when they catch actual mistakes, but I tend to bristle over suggestions of a stylistic nature. I suppose I should work on that should I ever want to actually get anything professionally published.)

Aside from the usual complaints about formatting and a couple of typos, I came across a note saying that I had too many spaces after each period and that the new standard is only one space after a full stop or other final punctuation mark.


Only one space after a period? Bah! One space after a comma or semi-colon, two spaces after a period, exclamation point, question mark or colon. If nothing else, I know that rule is sacred. It’s in the Bible, I think. It was certainly drilled into my head over an old Underwood manual typewriter in Grade 9 typing class.

So I hopped on the trusty Interwebs to gather evidence to support my cause… and to my great dismay, found out my editor was (gasp!) correct. I googled ‘how many spaces after a period‘ and found at least four pages of entries discussing the subject. How could I have possibly missed this debate before now?

Apparently, now that we have proportional fonts – thanks to online word processing – the old practice of indicating the end of a phrase with a double space is now rendered unnecessarily redundant. Even my most trustworthy Canadian Press Style Guide advocates only one space after a period. It’s a whole new world. I’ve never felt more obsolete.

I politely told the editor that after 25 years (ack!) of ten-fingered typing, it would take a lot more than a simple rule change to disabuse me of the satisfying double-thumb-thwack on the space bar at the end of a sentence, and that if she valued consistency, she would accept my two-spaced full stops. She took a long look at me, perhaps evaluating the extra white showing around the irises of my eyes and the little vein throbbing under my ear, and nodded silently.

There are some things that are simply sacred. I’m learning to deal with prepositions at the end of a sentence or split infinitives. I can live with or without a serial comma. But this is my line in the sand: I will never relent to a single space at the end of a sentence. Never!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaniGirl February 10, 2009 at 8:11 am

Oops, I guess the original comments for this one didn’t make the transfer to the new domain. Fear not, here they are!

I say, if the two-space rule was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
dean dad | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 9:14 am | #


They broke me of the two spaces post period habit in J-skool. Throws off all the formatting in the newspaper if you have two spaces post period. And it’s a big pain to have to go back and remove all your double spaces in a 3000 word feature story. That was a lesson I’ll never forget
suze | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 9:29 am | #


suze: it shouldn’t be that hard to remove double spaces if you’re using a word processor. (and are creative with search and replace)

dani: I’m with you on the double-spacing. I’ve known it was a “no-no” for many, many years, but you can’t take away the “double-thumb-thwack.” Besides, it would slow me down!
Miche | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 9:53 am | #


I have to admit that I cringe when two spaces are used after a period. But fortunately, you don’t have to drill this habit out of your head if you can just remember to do a quick search and replace when you’re done writing: search for two spaces and replace with one. (You could even write a quick macro to do this automatically.) Voila! No more prissy editors (ahem) getting all huffy at you.
Suzanne | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 10:08 am | #


LOL, Suzanne, I almost tipped my hat to you in the post itself – I was thinking of you.

Ahem, yes, I suppose I could theoretically use a tool to replace my two spaces with one. But I won’t.

(Aren’t you glad you’re not MY editor?)
DaniGirl | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 10:18 am | #


I came from the home of a typing teacher, I’ll use 2 til I die, guess I’m not going to make your editors cut, hehehe! I also come from the home of an English teacher and my grammar sucks….guess you can see who had more influence on me eh?
Jerri Ann | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 10:25 am | #


I had no idea it became an official rule to use only 1 space! I had just noticed it when it reformatted my Word documents.


It is a Brave New World.

DeanDad~you cracked me up.
Cakes | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 10:36 am | #


Well, Dani, the giant gaping scission after your periods has been bothering me for some time, but I was too polite to say it.

I know one space is right, I do, but the worn spot on my space bar is testimonial to my double thumb twacks as well.
Marla | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 10:37 am | #


Oh Marla, sometimes I think she sees another dimension to the universe!

Having most of my writing background online where a double space requires actual html code to correct, I had to get over the shwack shwack in a hurry. One easy way to correct documents is to Select All and then Find and Replace. Put a shwack shwack in the Find field and then a single shwack in the Replace With field. Will correct all slips of the thumb in a second.

Hang in there.
scarbiedoll | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 12:26 pm | #


I remember learning this, and was completely in shock as well… I mean in our line of work as Communication Experts, we pride ourselves in the double space after the period.

How dare the blessed Canadian Press Style Guide go against us wihtout any notification. What next? They will probably take away my (…) I could never function without them, or the exclamation point for that matter!!!!!!!
Sara | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 12:29 pm | #


I’m too verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves… ok I do see the point with today’s fonts and all but why, oh why was I not cc’d on that memo either? I hear ya DaniGirl. Tis a sad day indeed.
Myra | 10.18.06 – 12:36 pm | #


Holy crap, I had no idea about the new single space rule! See, I’m still doing 2 spaces here! My thumb has been trained for lo these many years, and I don’t know that I can un-train it. But thanks for keeping me current on all things grammar.
Sugarmama | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 12:48 pm | #


If you just heard a gasp, it was me trying frantically to replace the wind that has been knocked from my lungs at your revelation. I had no idea that one space as now the accepted way to punctuate. No idea at all.

I thought the two-spaces rule was inviolable. Ack!
Zany Mama | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 1:42 pm | #


I hang my head in shame for not knowing this. I’ve been out of the editing gig too long. Sigh. (check out my spaces–TWO FOREVER!)
Michelle | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 2:36 pm | #


Oh Dani,
This means I owe my kids an apology! I thought they were just being lazy and careless when typing their projects and essays! They told me that they were told 1 space…I fought the ole, “In my typing classes, which I took 2 years of, it was always 2 or I lost marks!” I guess I now have to suck it up and apologize to them.
Brenda, shocked!
Brenda | 10.18.06 – 5:03 pm | #


Gag…gasp…cringe…Cry Say it ain’t so Dani…say it ain’t SO.

How will I have stop the double Wack at the end of a sentence? See just did it again…and why didn’t they send us double wackers a memo?

Gee whiz…Nothing is sacred.
Sharon | 10.18.06 – 5:46 pm | #


You go girl!

And yeah, as much as I agree with you, I’ve had to succumb to the pressure. It’s called technical writing and a damn style guide.

Ah well. At least I have search and replace.
Bethany | Homepage | 10.18.06 – 9:43 pm | #


I feel so old. When did this happen? How did I know nothing about it? Where have I been? Um, is it odd that I’m typing this at all? Should I have a computer that just knows what I’m thinking now and it just pops up on the screen?

P.S. Sorry to those who cringe at the double click click. It’s a habit and I’m old. Old habits never die…
PeanutButtersMum | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 12:47 am | #


Wow Dani, you really come of with all the stuff. Add me to the list of can’t believe they changed things without telling us. There should be at least a spot on the news or in the paper or something. Just don’t leave us dangling like that .
BeachMama | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 8:07 am | #


Old habits die hard, I suppose. I never knew there was a rule regarding the number of spaces after a period anyway. I never took a “real” typing class, just taught myself. In elementary school we learned which fingers to use for which keys, but beyond that, I was on my own. Thank goodness I’ve only been using one space! lol!
Guinevere Meadow | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 8:47 am | #


how are we supposed to help our kids with homework if they keep changing all these sacrosaint rules?

once agina dani, my hat off to you for making me ever more aware of teh importatn issues at hand

your bud, double spacer till teh end
twinmomplusone | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 12:23 pm | #


I know! When I first started copyediting for LM, it just about undid me. Was it just the Canadian school system that taught this? It had something to do with Participaction, didn’t it.
Jen | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 2:12 pm | #


I will never give up the serial comma. Ever. (Unless the Chicago Manual does. )

I did drop the two spaces when I worked for a publisher, though.
Kate | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 3:49 pm | #


_Not only do I grievously miss Double Spacing for new sentences (in Blogger), I also regret the absence of Paragraph Indentations!
Classic | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 7:12 pm | #


I did not know of this major shift in the universe. I don’t even know what to say. It’s too much to take in.

Excuse me. I need a moment…
Sue | Homepage | 10.19.06 – 10:37 pm | #


2 Kevin February 13, 2012 at 2:27 am

As an editor, I can tell you, you are wrong. and double spacing drives us nuts because in layout it often messes up the spacing which auto corrects the kerning, spacing etc. Do your ed a favour and single space.

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