Here’s an editorial issue I’ve been dodging for decades.  Right there, did you see it?  There it is again.  Two spaces between sentences.

Years ago I was taught that one types an extra space at the end of a sentence.  On, you know, a typewriter.  Never seen one of those?  It’s a gadget we used in the olden days, kind of like an abacus, ok?  I’ve been typing extra spaces ever since.  So ingrained is the habit I’m not sure I could quit.  And I think it makes a block of text easier to read.

But now, since I’m going to be the Editor rather than the Editee, I can no longer fall back on my writer’s prerogative.  I will have to repent my sins and follow the Big Orange Bible, and the BOB says no extra spaces.  Can I enforce the rule on other authors when I’m merrily extra-spacing my way through my own pieces? 

I will now try to type a paragraph without extra spaces. There, I did it once. Twice. But it feels wrong, friends, wrong. I may forget or backslide. Those little blank spots, two roomy spaces wide, may show up in my dreams, calling out their comfy temptations. Come on, they’ll whisper, don’t your words deserve a little elbow room? What prose could breathe under those conditions?

Pray for me.


25 thoughts on “SPACE. FOR. SALE.

  1. I have the exact same issue.  See?  Did it there, too.  Insanity!!  Someone stop me!! Eek, that looks wrong. Why are my  sentences so close? HELP!You’re in my prayers.

  2. My editor knows I can’t handle single spacing at the end of my sentences.  She quietly goes about fixing all my double spaces (two manuscripts worth of double spaces at this point) with nary a word about my error.  That is just one of many reasons why she will always be my favorite.

  3. Back to your question on tax credits.My IRS contact has promised an answer in about two weeks.That’s if you can believe the Government.Notice I have saved all spaces between sentences and it looks terrible.   I even like three better than two.

  4. I am a dedicated 2-space user as well.  Everything else looks so bunchy.  If you are using MS Word, you can always do a find and replace and find 2 spaces (type 2 spaces in the search box) and replace with 1 space (type 1 space in the search box).  Works so much better than just manually replacing them.Good luck!

  5. Ooh, I am a double spacer too!  I think there should be some type of petition to make both completely acceptable (but single spacing should be frowned on by the elite editors). Is it all to save paper space so books are cheaper to print?

  6. yup…guilty….double spacer also…I have a lot more bad internet issues to recover from…I’m going to keep double spacing.  Plus, I think it looks better.

  7. Everyone who ever took typing lessons learned to leave an extra space.  It does make it easier to read.  What is the reasoning behind not doing it this way anymore?  I intend to do it whether the BOB likes it or not.  So there!

  8. @turningreen – The Big Orange Bible is the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.@Rockinbear05 – The extra space was added because typewriters used a font in which every letter took up the same amount of space, which made it difficult to see at a glance where the sentence ended.  Typesetters, on the other hand, used fonts with varying widths (so the m took up more space than the i, for example).  As a result, printed books never had the extra space, while correspondence that was produced on a typewriter always did.  Since the computer fonts commonly used now have varying widths, the extra space is considered unnecessary.  But I still prefer extra spaces, and furthermore, I can’t stop! 

  9. I have the same problem with double dashes. Sometimes Word automatically corrects it and turns it into a longer single dash. It should do it all of the time, but the instructions for that programming in Help say to go to a feature that never shows up on my computer. (I love Vista.)Having spent a tidy sum on the BOB I should probably read it, but mostly I use it to take up shelf space on my desk. The Elements of Style is 97 pages long.  

  10. I am a two-spacer.  I am not changing just because the rules have, it is embedded too deeply in the typing side of my hard drive to be deleted without damage, and would slow my speed.  That may make me old, obsolete and out-dated, but that’s nothing new.xoxoxo

  11. I had to learn to use only one space when I was working at the newspaper, and I was surprised that it didn’t take me long to get into the habit.  Of course, once I left the paper, I went right back to using two spaces.  Why?  Because I could.

  12. I am also a two spacer and I think it does increase the ease of reading.  Perhapsweshouldgotonospacesbetweenwords.  That would save lots of space in books and newspapers, if reading ease isn’t the biggest priority.  Okmaybenot.

  13. And extra space is just a better look and wee bit easer to read. But if your printing a newspaper it adds up to an extra page. Now I wasn’t taught the way you were. And a typewriter is just a big ornament in my father’s  den, that on one ever uses. But I say if it looks better and you are not concerned about using an extra page, do what you do, then do what you’re told to do, when you’re told to do. I say damn the hypocrisy, hold on to it and be proud or it.

  14. I learned (76 years ago or so) that it was 2 after periods and 1 after commas.  My daughter has since set me straight.  I still put 2 after a period.  See?  I did it.  Pssht.

  15. Oh, I do understand. It took me a very long time to get out of that habit myself. My first papers in college were typed on an electric typewriter, believe it or not. Much luck to ya. . .

  16. Yep, late to the party as usual, but screw that noise.  I started typing on a Brother manual typewriter our uncle gave to us (along with the encyclopedias that listed Carter as the newest president), but I’ve always done it.  It’s a habit, engrained after what?  At least 32 years?  I don’t understand why there’s this new rule with computers, but there are also things that I am soooo glad I don’t have to do anymore.  Nothing like doing those damned footnotes, making tables, typing entire pages then (and only then) discovering that horrendous mistake that you can’t fix because you can’t put the paper back into the typewriter exactly as you put them in before….Now, I’ll admit that doing envelopes, labels, that kind of thing?  Nothing beats a typewriter, because by the time you fix the damned printer to do mailing labels, you could’ve done at least 10. Someone always prints something on your labels, or the thing overheats, and the labels turn out gray.But then again, I am soooo happy that I can save my work, edit it, and even e-mail it to myself if I’m silly enough not to put it on a flash drive.  Sometimes change is good.

  17. I just learned the other day that if you do a double space at the end of a sentence on a Blackberry, it will automatically put in a period.  See???  I think Blackberry trumps the BOB, don’t you???  

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