Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period
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- Two Spaces After a Period: Why You Should Never, Ever Do It
- Farhad Manjoo
- Jan 12 2011
- Word count
- 1290 words
This article appears to come out of significant misunderstandings about the differences between different forms of typed and typeset text, combined with the author's surfeit of obnoxiousness and self-assuredness to create a ridiculous result. Apparently, as the correction notes, they originally even found a way to incorporate a petty insult toward Julian Assange in their rant, for some reason.
As I've written elsewhere at length recently, using one or two spaces in most places doesn't matter aesthetically when using even halfway decent typesetting, because the displayed result will be the same, and that result, for English typesetting, will have more somewhat more space between sentences than words. The choice also largely didn't matter in 2011, when this was written. The author seems to completely miss that, in most typesetting, spaces are not a fixed size at all: the size of spaces will change depending on characters, position, justification, and so on.
The Complete Manual of Typography that the author refers to appears not to be a guide to typesetting, but to typography in word processors, and actually has a somewhat more reasonable discussion of the topic, including both a complaint that word processors use multiple space characters for alignment and physical spacing and don't collapse multiple space characters like better typesetting systems, and a point that using two spaces in monospace text makes sense. They then go on to give a reasonable recommendation (single spacing in word processors) given the broken behaviour of Word. Yet the point here appears somewhat lost on the author of the article: using a single space character in those circumstances still creates more space between sentences than words. It is not ‘an ordinary space.’
Of course, part of the frustration here is that, whether or not this has changed over time, it has definitely been my experience that the people who are angry about two spaces and insist that using them is horrible far outnumber and outmatch in vehemence the people who argue for two spaces universally, whom I've never met at all.
But the true and inexcusable travesty, to me, is that the author, publishing as a ‘technology’ journalist, appears to be so self-assured, mean-spirited, and ignorant, that they would, in their correction about their original insulting of Assange, attempt to create a new insult—that Assange ‘used a monospace font’ in emails—apparently not understanding that Assange would almost certainly have been writing plain text emails, and thus would not have chosen the typeface for the emails at all, though, despite the author's insistence that no one uses monospace fonts, monospace was and is the standard.
I hate this Slate article. The arguments are entirely subjective ("doesn't it just feel better?"), yet somebody always posts it in discussions on double spacing like it's somehow an authoritative source.
I mean sure, but no ones pretending that's a scientific article.
Very interesting, but I think there's gotta be some kind of generational gap somewhere. I know the teacher in the article is telling her students to add two spaces after a period, but I have rarely if ever come across this. I've had people mention it, but like the majority of people my age and at least the ones who I went to high school with, this wasn't even a thing.
Double spacing after periods only came onto my radar in college! No one I know, minus my parents, really even knew about the rule or its existence. I feel like this might be a generational divide. ESPECIALLY since, during my college years, English teachers would actively tell people NOT to do it, if they did it at all.
It definitely seems like a generational thing to me. When I took typing class in grade school we learned on actual typewriters, and we were taught to always use two spaces after a period, which was hammered home by giving us demerits whenever we didn't. Enforcing two spaces actually made sense in that context though, since (as the article mentions) typewriters' monospace type, and sometimes inaccurate movements and inconsistent inking, could make it hard to actually spot the periods on a page without the additional whitespace.
And I suspect the only reason why it still lingers is because many older people (like myself) continue using two spaces out of sheer habit, and some even continue teaching it to others as the "correct" way because that's what they were taught, and they have never taken the time to consider why they were taught it in the first place, and why it isn't necessary anymore. So now it's basically just a habitual vestigial limb from a bygone era, before modern personal computing and the web, and before the better, more accurate, easier to read, and higher resolution fonts that developed along with them.
My parents are journalists and taught me how to type on typewriters. They never told me anything about double spacing. They're both 65+. But I'm not in the US.
i thought only foreign language speakers did this because i had never met anyone outside my family who two-spaced
I just learned that people do this, apparently, because of Word officially saying this is incorrect. I've never actually seen this though, I also never had a teacher say to use or not to use two spaces after a period.