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How many spaces after a period.


Pete Bruno

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A very helpful thread by Cia about Dialogue Punctuation prompted this.  When I was taught to type (way back in 1970) it was mandatory that we double space after a period.  The explanation I recall being given was that the period was the expression of a complete thought, unlike a coma which a brief stop or pause. 

 

So I continue to use the double space, even though it is not the current style, and I find that it is much easier to read.  Here is a link to a great article I have found on the topic http://theworldsgreatestbook.com/how-many-spaces-after-a-period/

I would also like to include a part of a great comment from a reader named Kevin, I think it sums it perfectly.

 

"Double Spacing allows for people to more easily recognize a hard break in the cantor of the speech or narrative. It’s also an visual reminder that the comma is a short breath while a period is a definitive pause."

Edited by Pete Bruno
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That is one of those stylistic differences that comes from the evolution of writing along with a lot of other small differences, like how to space ellipses. I did double spaces at first while typing stories as well, but gradually grew out of the habit. Word typically corrects those now, so most authors who are newer or who didn't learn from original typing practices before Word was the 'staple' (eg, typewriters, where the double spacing was really necessary and how I first learned--yes I actually used a typewriter once upon a time, lol) only use single spacing.

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I was always taught to double space and that's how I still do it.  It just doesn't look right to me if I don't.  However, with tablets and smartphones and people drifting toward those devices when writing, single spacing is a lot more convenient.  I don't know about everyone, but if I try to double space on my tablet while writing, it will autocorrect to a period where the first space was placed and then a just a single space between the newly placed period and the next sentence.  It's too tedious to fix that problem so on my tablet, I single space.  But it kind of irks me all the same. :)

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I'm using the Word 2010 and it doesn't (thank God) correct or even green line it.  What I do find interesting is if I place a period of Mr or Mrs it red lines it as incorrect.  Yet another style issue!

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My understanding is that this is a holdover from manual typewriter days. Typewriters used a fixed-width font, and the double space helped identify the end/start of sentences.

 

With computers, most people use proportional-width fonts and as such, the double-space has a smaller impact. The space character width isn't as big as it is with a fixed-width font, so the double space doesn't stand out as much.

 

Fixed width font.  Double space after period.

Fixed width font. Single space after period.

Proportional width font.  Double space after period.

Proportional width font. Single space after period.

 

As you can see, the double space with the fixed width stands out. The double space with the proportional font doesn't (at least not to the same degree). I believe this is primary reason the approach has been dropped.

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Like the fall from grace of the Oxford comma, I think this stems from telegraphy, originally. On a telegraph or teletype, every character counted.

 

The only constant is change. We can choose to flow with the current, or set anchor.

 

I like the Oxford comma, but single space after periods. You pick your battles.

 

Remember, the written word conventions evolved to depict the spoken word. After a point, throw out the rules and make your own.

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Talk about poking a sleeping lion with a sharp stick :lol:

 

I always double space after a full stop (period).  

 

Thankfully MS Word doesn't have the audacity to autocorrect me :)

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Like the fall from grace of the Oxford comma, I think this stems from telegraphy, originally. On a telegraph or teletype, every character counted.

 

The only constant is change. We can choose to flow with the current, or set anchor.

 

I like the Oxford comma, but single space after periods. You pick your battles.

 

Remember, the written word conventions evolved to depict the spoken word. After a point, throw out the rules and make your own.

 

 

OHI0022-WRI-CommaCuts-sm.jpg

 

tumblr_m5it9oGl1e1qduhpqo1_500.jpg

 

lets drop orl speling rools and pungkchuashun and skroo the oksferd koma and evrything els :lol:

 

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Always:  Two spaces after the end of a sentence.  Always:  An Oxford comma for the reason illustrated by Zombie.

 

I'm using the Word 2010 and it doesn't (thank God) correct or even green line it.  What I do find interesting is if I place a period of Mr or Mrs it red lines it as incorrect.  Yet another style issue!

 

You might check to see that your settings are for U. S. usage vs. U K usage.

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I never used the double space and I never heard of it until today. Call me ignorant. I believe at least here in Germany nobody does/did that, even when they use/d a typewriter. I actually called my mother, she confirmed she always used a single space behind a period.

I did hear of the Oxford comma, what a relief.

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I never used the double space and I never heard of it until today. Call me ignorant. I believe at least here in Germany nobody does/did that, even when they use/d a typewriter. I actually called my mother, she confirmed she always used a single space behind a period.

I did hear of the Oxford comma, what a relief.

 

Ignorant! 

 

(What?  He asked me to. )

 

Seriously, you're not ignorant at all.  I've always double spaced after sentences, and it's become a habit.  But there are significant challenges to this rule.  Some interpret APA Style (for academic papers) to ban the use of two spaces after the period, while others do not.  I could not come up with conclusive evidence in support or opposition to it, so shrugged and decided that it was a personal preference thing. 

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It wasn't easy to let go of my two spaces after a period and Oxford commas, but they are no-no's for (fiction) manuscripts these days (submitted to US publishers). I've learned to adjust, but not always willingly. The Oxford comma and I go way back. I miss it.

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From my typography class, I was taught it was a hold over from the typewriter like Graeme said earlier.

 

On the typewriter all letters and punctuation took up the same space on the page, so the double space was to make a better visual break at the end of a sentence. With the advent of the word processor and letter spacing being dependent on the shape of the letter, (An "i" takes up far less space than an "m") the convention was dropped.

 

So now, the expected standard is a single space after the period.

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White space in a document is important visually and I always use a double space after a period.  I was trained that way in typing class in the early 1960's (and yes they had electric typewriters back then).  As I recall, WordPerfect which was the first really good word processing software suggested it.  MS Word which supplanted it did in the earlier versions as well, but I have not kept up with it as I still use Word 2000.  

 

Fortunately, GA does not impose the single space rule after a period or a colon!

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From my typography class, I was taught it was a hold over from the typewriter like Graeme said earlier.

 

On the typewriter all letters and punctuation took up the same space on the page, so the double space was to make a better visual break at the end of a sentence. With the advent of the word processor and letter spacing being dependent on the shape of the letter, (An "i" takes up far less space than an "m") the convention was dropped.

 

So now, the expected standard is a single space after the period.

I had read the same thing, however this article basically dispels that theory.  http://theworldsgrea...after-a-period/

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not exactly. Even in his addendum, the tracking between words changes from line to line and the emspaces are inconsistent. Fully justified text doesn't always allow for that. His examples are lovely pieces of text, but hardly dispels the debate. Now if he was showing examples of left justified text to compare directly, I'd be more likely to agree with his thesis.

 

I'm not saying the double space is wrong. It's simply a more modern convention.

Edited by Mann Ramblings
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As I said earlier I never heard of double space after period until I stumbled over this thread. So I looked for more information and found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing

 

I think it clears the why and when the double spacing started.

 

I love Addy and his wonderful research brain. 

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I had to chuckle.  One of my beta readers and I had a discussion about this not to long ago.  He asked me why I kept double spacing after a period and I told him it was how I was taught.  He told me it was wrong and was fixing them.  I told him no it wasn't and to stop fixing them.  Needless to say, I double space.  It's how I was taught and it's how I still do it.  It looks wrong to me if I don't.

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