More Controversial Than 50 Shades

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What’s that, you say?  I am talking, of course, about using one space or two after punctuation between sentences.  To read the many blogs vilifying us two-spacers, one would think this is the single most heinous grammatical sin an author can commit.  Using two spaces indicates you are either an amateur, a dinosaur or that you lack class, education and good taste.

Seriously?  What the hell?  Come on folks, when you read my blog entries, do you cringe on the cusp of each new sentence because of an extraneous space after punctuation?  Really?  If, on the other hand, you have no idea what the Sam Dickens I’m talking about and are still happily typing two spaces after each sentence or perhaps even helpfully correcting your daughter’s English assignments to add the additional spaces she omitted, allow me to educate you.

The two space habit is apparently a holdover from the days of manual typewriters and monospaced font, which allocated an equal amount of horizontal space to each character and made it difficult for readers to spot the break between sentences.  Since few of us write on old-fashioned typewriters anymore (seriously, if any of you actually do use a manual typewriter for your first draft, I will officially create and award you a “Rockin’ It Old School” medal at my earliest possible convenience), and modern digital typewriters and computers use proportional fonts which eliminate the problem that double spacing solves, that extra space is like a gallbladder.  You don’t need it.

Or do you?  If you scroll through the comments left on the most controversial blogs on this subject, you will find at least one dissenting opinion citing the re-designation of the two space rule in the latest edition of the APA Manual of Style.  “Regarding punctuation in manuscript drafts, APA suggests using two spaces after periods ending sentences to aid readability.”

Wait, does that mean APA suggests using one space after periods ending sentences regarding punctuation in final, published manuscripts?  Who cares?  The APA is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.  Why in the heck does it even matter what it says?  I am so confused…

The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), which is widely considered the Gold Standard for publishing rules, “A single character space, not two spaces, should be left after periods at the ends of sentences (both in manuscript and in final, published form).”  Well, there you have it.  The use of two spaces is just wrong.  So why, you ask, did I use two spaces between every sentence in this post?  Obviously, I am a rebel without class or good taste. Which only those of you who actually read this blog will ever know.

In her sample edit, my editor, Michelle Josette, noted that the usage of two spaces drove her batty, but because she is awesome, also recognized it was still matter of personal style, so instead of fixing my erroneous spacing, actually corrected sentences where I omitted the little bugger.  While she dutifully added the second space to improve consistency in my sentence structure, she also recommended we use single spacing in the final manuscript, and I will follow her recommendation.  (Replacing double spaces with single is really as simple as using the Find/Replace function on your word processor of choice. It takes all of a few seconds.)

However, for now, for the purpose of this blog, I have no plans to change my evil, tasteless ways, because its my blog, and I happen to like that extra space.  In fact, due to the miracles of modern technology, when I copied and pasted this blog into WordPress, it automatically corrected my spacing from double to single, and I had to edit this post to add extra spacing between every sentence just to maintain my classlessness!  I make no promises I will go to such lengths to prove myself in the future.

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