Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OMG! You can totally see her double spaces.

Up until recently, I had no idea that double spaces after a period were so offensive to many industry professionals.

Apparently back when there were monospaced typefaces (yeah, look up the word) for things like typewriters and DOS documents, a double space after the period was deemed necessary so you could easily see where one sentence ended and another began.

Now that most fonts are proportional, the status of double spacing has been changed from aesthetically pleasing to unnecessary, annoying and unprofessional

Oh COME ON!!! 

Does it really (I mean really) make that much of a difference?

Apparently yes. 

Depending on who you ask.

Arguments against double spacing:

They create holes in the page that jump out at you and are annoying.

They’re old fashioned.  (Old fashioned?  I’m only twenty-eight years old for crying out loud!  When did schools start teaching kids to type with only one space after a period? Cause mine obviously missed the memo.) 

My arguments in defense of continued double spacing: 

Double spaces are prettier.  Ex:

Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. 
(Are you feeling the claustrophobia?  Are you?  I know I am)

Three blind mice.  Three blind mice.  See how they run. 
(Admit it- It’s like taking a nice fresh breath between sentences.  Really.)

A double space gives the writer and the reader the time to breath, to think- that one extra second to assimilate the information from the sentence that came before.  We need it!

They say it sticks out.  I say it looks cleaner.

 Pot-A-to / Pot-AH-to.

Sure, it wouldn’t be moving mountains to just pay attention and train yourself to put one space after a period.  But it’s the principle of the thing!  -- Like why I won’t ever use the word ‘sneaked’ in place of ‘snuck’.  (*shivers* - word still gives me the willies)

What do you think?  Should industry professionals make such a big deal about double spaces?   Are they really that offensive?  Do you still use them or have you been able to train yourself out of them?

PS- I had a fantastic time combing the blogosphere for clues to DL HAMMONS WHODUNNIT contest and got to check out bloggers I’d never met before!  The prizes are insane and this is probably the most fun and original blogging contest I’ve ever participated in so check it out!

67 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

I'm thirty and remember being taught to not do the double-space thing anymore at Uni. How long have you been living in France? LOL ;o)

Katie Mills said...

I got outta college in 2004! My alternatives were always english lit classes and no one every said anything! So, I have no idea when this all came about.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I took typing in high school in the 80's -- on typewriters. They were electric, but just barely, and they had big honking keys.

It's hard to train yourself out of a an automatic action. In fact, look at my double spaces in this comment!

I did not know they had become anathema, though. Guess I'll have to work on it. Phew, single-spaced this whole paragraph. It's taking concentration, though. Burning away creativity ...

Sarah said...

I think I learned this in graduate school--and I had the opposite reaction. I loved it! Less key strokes. More compact. I don't have to think about whether something's coming after a comma or period. And maybe it saves a few bucks in the printing of a book, as the text takes up less space?

Laura Pauling said...

I figured it out a few years ago. It's really easy to switch over. The 2 space habit didn't take 21 days to break. you can do it!

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

Yeah, like I'm a dinosaur compared to you...and I've known double spaces were a no-no since back in the the... in the...whenever dinosaurs lived.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

A great post! I had not idea double spaces after periods were a no-no these days. (Did I just do one there or not? I'm feeling weirdly hypervigilant now, and I am not sure I like it, lol.)

Laura's comment made me laugh: "The 2 space habit didn't take 21 days to break. you can do it!"

Do they make a patch for it? Gum?!

Thanks for tweeting this post. :)

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

"I had not idea..."

I am a native-speaker of English, really. I've been saying for YEARS that Blogger needs an "Edit" feature! Bah.

Obviously, I am really flustered by this whole double-versus-single space thing! ;-)

Gina said...

I have a whole lot of extra spaces to delete in my manuscript. Single spacing sucks.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I didn't know this rule until I started querying novels. No one cared about it when I was in grad school. Or at least my thesis committee didn't comment on. They were too busy drilling me on the difference between ventilatory threshold and lactic threshold.

I prefer one space. Less work. Might even save some paper.

Dan said...

I'm going to keep using double spaces until they lock me up like Galileo and force me to recant.

"There...are...two...spaces!!" (gratuitous Star Trek reference)

salarsenッ said...

I remember when I started writing Googling this exact topic. You should have seen the hits I got. Try it. Crazy, contradictory, and confusing. I did eventually figure it out.

Martin Rose said...

It's a transitional problem. That is, wasn't all that long ago typewriters were the norm so double spacing was necessary; but now that PCs have taken over, there's still teaching methods that have yet to change to update with the times. . . I understand that people used to type "30" at the end of each MS for some, obscure typesetting reason, but no body does that anymore either . . .

Angela Felsted said...

I didn't know they were taboo until a few months ago when I read it on someones blog. And I think getting all annoyed about the number of spaces a person puts after a period is just plain petty, especially when it's so easily fixed.

Just go to the find field in your computer, type in double space, then type in single space in the replace field. Oh' my, that took what, five seconds?

walk2write said...

Having learned to type back in the 70s, of course I used two spaces. For years and years. When I took a course in medical transcription in the late 90s, we were told to use only one space because it saved the clients money and us (the scribes) valuable time. Every keystroke adds to the cost of a document. I'm pretty sure the publishing companies have a similar economic reason for disliking those extra spaces. I actually like them for the same reason you do, but it's difficult to break an old-new habit.

Aha! You're another clue holder, I see.

Summer Frey said...

I'm soon to be 25, and I've never done the double space, though I remember my mom trying to convince me it was right.

Emily White said...

I personally think there are far more important things to get all worked up over when it comes to writing. Like you, I'm 28 and I was trained to type using the double space. Maybe people who have trouble typing already can slow themselves down enough to make sure they only press the space bar once, but I'm a fast typist. I don't consciously think about what I'm typing. I just do it.

And yes, I think it looks nicer. It's more refreshing to the eyes to have that extra space.

Angelina Rain said...

It really depends on the professional if they accept it or not. However, if the book is great and that’s the only problem with it, I think it would be silly to reject it based on that alone. I had an editor reject my manuscript because I broke one little writing rule. That editor trashed my work and called it unprofessional, it’s their loss because three publishers loved that story and found my rule breaking original.

Justin W. Parente said...

I made the switch to single spacing after periods when I began falling in love with the Courier typeface. I just wasn't a fan of Times any more. I liked how crisp Courier looked, so I decided to do the third draft of my MS with the single-space rule.

Wasn't as hard as you might think. It becomes a background ability like remembering indent.

Or using your favorite punctuation (for me, it's the emdash).

However, I was totally turned off one day when I read an agent's site page saying they WILL NOT, WILL NOT take manuscripts with two spaces after periods. Big turn off at the time. Granted, the agent looked like she'd been around a while, erm...80 years, I would guess.

Thanks for this great topic.

JWP

mshatch said...

From a reader's standpoint, I don't think I care. But as a writer, I can't remember ever not single-spacing between sentences - and I'm a bit older than 28. I think how you learned is more random than age. My son's gf, who is 24, also double-spaces. She grew up in Maine. Funny, too, when I heard she did this I had to find out whether she was correct or I was. Turned out, we both were :)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I still double space after periods, for all the reasons you advocate. I even just did it, automatically, after that period! A crit partner pointed out that I should single space, but it's a hard habit to break.

psst Today's the Bernard Pivot blogfest :))

Hope your day is awesome!

Kelly said...

I just read about this about four months ago. So I've been submitting with double spaces for a few years. That's what I was taught to do in typing class, and I was never told otherwise!
You can do a search and replace to make sure there are none in your manuscript. Put in two spaces for search and one space for replace.
I'm so glad about that option because I do the double space sometimes out of habit!

Cherie Reich said...

I remember in school we did the double spaces until in college it was changed to one space. Then, some publishers wanted two, so I went to that, and now they want one, so I changed to that. I just wish people would make up their minds!

But, I like the single space. I catch double spaces a lot when I proofread people's work. And, I think there is this nifty way to make all double spaces into a single space, but I don't know how to do it. I hear it is out there. So, if you find that out, you can always write it the way you want and then format it otherwise.

Tina Lynn said...

I've never been a double spacer. *ducks*

Candyland said...

Yes, it's what I was taught but now, in my daily jobs, I HATE correcting everyone's double-spacing. It's a pain.

Olivia J. Herrell said...

I remember being appalled when I found out, too. Of course that was, umm, 20 years ago. :) Now I'm a single-space snob. You will be, too. In no time. I promise.

Great to see you again! that rebel, Olivia

Talli Roland said...

I've never double spaced. And I'm, well... over age 35. I don't like it! No to double spaces! NO!

randine said...

Wow I had no idea that this was such a "hot button" issue... lame joke, sorry, couldn't resist.

In nursing school I think we were taught to double space. But I don't think I've double spaced in my manuscripts- I'll have to check, though.

Interesting post. Thanks!

Jen Daiker said...

No to double spaces!!! I'm with Talli I've never fallen victim to double spaces (luckily). I've always found it strange but a lot of people do it.

Love the photo... I'm still giggling!!

Angela Scott said...

You crack me up.

It wasn't until a year ago (refreshing my writing skills by taking a writing class) that I was told no go on the double spaces. It floored me.

But, now, I've trained myself not to hit the space bar one more time. I think I heard somewhere (I could be wrong about this. Most often times I am) that when the MS goes to publishing, the "computer" (I don't know) throws in the other space so now you have 3 if you have the double. Does that make sense? And I think I heard (again I could be wrong) that publishing houses want only one space so they can fit more on a page, less pages equals less money they have to fork out.

Anyway, you always brighten my day with your quirky ways.

Meredith said...

I was taught double spaces. Single spaces freak me out, but I'm trying to adapt. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I always used only one space. *ducks flying objects*

Melissa Buell said...

They never taught me in school either and I'm 29! I found out when I was finishing an important final paper for an English class to graduate (I graduated last year - I took time off to have kids). My friend reviewed my paper and told me about the double space "no-no" and I was shocked! I spent a lot of time looking it up on MLA sites for the right answer. Blah. I've had to train myself to not double space and it's been hard.

Lindsay said...

I was always taught single spaces in school. So I've never used double spaces. The first time I saw it being used it was, like, 'Oh,' *confused face* LOL.

Elena Solodow said...

I *just* heard about this single-space after periods thing this year. I ended up switching over to one-space and now I'm used to it - but when I first heard, I was shocked.

Old Kitty said...

I am a proud old fashioned gal and will always and forever use double spaces after a full stop. So. There. :-)

Take care
x

Patti said...

I don't think it should be a big deal, but for some reason that I can't pinpoint, the double space really bothers me.

Caitlin said...

To be honest, I haven't thought of the double space in years! My typing class in middle school taught us to double space. But then again, the printers that we used still required the paper that was connected with perforations and had the edges that you had to tear off. We had some pretty old equipment.

Come to think of it I probably still used the double space after periods until about halfway through high school and then I just...stopped. But after reading this I did a little comparison of my own in Word, and I'll admit, the double space still looks pretty nice!

LTM said...

I've personally just gotten in the habit of one space after the period, but hubs is CONSTANTLY fussing about this. He's a two-spacer. Me = you. Potato, potahto. Is it REALLY that big a deal? No. :D <3

Sandra Rose Hughes said...

Huh. When I learned to type, they also taught me the whole double space thing. I am not sure when I learned otherwise. All that matters is that one person has transmitted their idea accurately to another person- thus the purpose of written language has been served.

klahanie said...

I've always double spaced after a period, or in English, 'full stop. Always have, always will. And this is coming from the 'grammar anarchist' :)
Have an awesome day. In kindness, Gary

WritersBlockNZ said...

Wow I had no idea it was an issue! I'm only 24 and I was taught to double space at school. I have to do it - it's engrained in me, but fortunately there's a simple grammar checkbox in word that will automatically change them to one (or back to two) if anyone was to ask me to change it.

Kate said...

I'm astounded that so many people on here double space! I always associated it with older folks who did secretarial work back in the days of manual typewriters and shorthand.

But then school never taught me to touch type either. Is that when you all leared to double space?

Certainly many of the submission guidelines specify not to.

Kindros said...

Back in my day, double space was the standard. I was shocked when I got to college and that whole rule was turned over. I'm to use to single space now. Oh well, maybe I'll have to bring it back with you.

D. Rhodes said...

hell's bells! i had no idea double spaces were annoying. i was taught the rule in school because i'm so old that i took typing class - for you young things, a typewriter is a noisy thing with paper instead of a screen and the keys take some effort to press.

anyway, then i forgot to double space when computers took over the world (kinda like i forget to capitalize). then i had to relearn double space after the period when i started my dismal attempts at fiction, because i thought i had to do it that way.

that's it. i'm going back to poetry!

Diana said...

I am a 2 spaces type of gal too. Now I just clind on Find/Replace and type in a code so it cleans it up for me.

ctrl f (find) then put two spaces
then ctrl f (replace) one space

(It's been a while since I've done it so I hope that works)

I'm following you.

Dominic de Mattos said...

I've never even heard of two spaces after a full stop. (and there you have a clue ... I can't bring myself to type "period" - it's unnatural! - and I wonder whether this two space thing is a US foible?) and this two dashes thingy the em-dash? That's a new one to me too. That one I have to get used to if I am going to submit to US magazines.
Of course it might just be that when I was at school (in the cave man days) they didn't teach boys to type!

:Dom

J.L. Campbell said...

Habit is a heck of a thing. I still type hit the spacebar twice after a full stop. 'Course this means taking them all out afterwards. Somehow though, I doubt I've ever been rejected based on that alone.

Kristin Rae said...

I'll be 28 in a week, and I was taught two spaces after a period... are they really saying not to now?!?! That's too confusing!!

Nicole Mc said...

I had no idea about this till about 3 months ago and I'm still having trouble adjusting. My fingers just hit the space bar twice, I can't help it!

KatyDid said...

Have you read the Slate.com article where “Farhad Manjoo” (if that is his real name) takes Wikileaks Julian Assange to task – even questioning his sanity – because he put two spaces after his periods in old love letters?

The article was taken down (because, as it turns out, Assange had not actually used the double space thing), but the Assange-less article is here (http://www.slate.com/id/2281146/).

These double space haters seem pretty hardcore, though. I wouldn’t want to met them in a dark alley…

Corinne O'Flynn said...

LOL! i recently blogged about the double tap after sentences being a no-no. I heard about it on twitter and have been trying to recover since. *backspace* I was taught it was vital! VITAL!! The new regime must end.

New follower!
Corinne

WritingNut said...

YES... I'm totally with you on this! I'm 27 and I was always taught that you should double space after a period... but then again... I was also taught that dialogue tags were GOOD.. sooooooo.... :D

The Good Wifehold said...

Sorry Katie, not with you on the double spaces. I've actually only just started to hear about this... perhaps it's a difference in anglo-cultural worlds? (I'm an aussi) Certainly the old Word spell/grammar check helps in this regard. However - very funny post! TGW

Colene Murphy said...

Huh, I never learned the double space thing but you're right. That is kind of prettier...I think it's nuts that it's so offensive. I mean, I say it should be a preference but not a career ending mistake. That seems silly to be so uptight about a space.

Hart Johnson said...

*dies laughing* Oh, my dear... you and I are on the same page. I like the look better too (and actually wrote a whole blog post once advocating for 'snuck'). Besides THAT, though, professionally, I publish in scientific journals (dense type, tiny print)--and they mostly still demand the double space, so I can't break the habit. I just, when I get to the end, to a 'find/replace' and put in one space for two automatically when I don't have to look at it anymore...

Stephanie Faris said...

I remember reading about this in the mid-90s, when I was writing romance, and I promptly worked to consciously change my double-space habit! It took a while but now I don't even think about it. It's always one space after periods, question marks, etc., even when writing blog comments.

alexia said...

Wow, we have like a divided writing world here, with people on both sides of the issue. I heard about this a couple months ago on a blog. I'm only 28 and I was always taught to double space. And I was never corrected on this in college. I'm still double spacing, and I'm sure no good agent would reject an otherwise awesome book for this. But I suppose I can conform :)

Theres just life said...

And hear I thought I was being very proper when I remembered to double space. That was what I was taught in typing class back in the stone age.
This is the first time I have heard of the no double space rule.
Boy, have I been out of the loop. Thanks for setting me straight.
The twitter thing with no spaces at all still gets to me, though.

Pamela JO
http://theresjustlifeyaliveit.blogspot.com

Anne R. Allen said...

I've seen those no-double space fanatics all over the Interwebz. I even saw an article in something like HuffPo that suggested people who double space are mentally and morally inferior to single-spacers.

But I've also seen small presses that insist that you DO double space and won't consider single-space submissions.

I figure I wouldn't want to do business with any of them. Have you ever tried to respace a whole manuscript?

This seems very much like the toilet paper over/under debate. I once had a guest stomp out of my bathroom and announce to the room that I had hung the roll the wrong way, and it made her feel nervous about eating anything I prepared, because I was obviously not a careful person. (I had no idea which way I'd hung it because I DON'T CARE.)

Guess who didn't get invited back?

I single space now, because my last publisher said it was easier for him. I'm always willing to do something to be kind, but never to kow-tow to whiny, judgmental bullies.

Texanne said...

Back in the day, I turned in copy with two spaces after each sentence. The typesetter would retype my work, using only one space after each sentence.

The reason your publisher WOULD NOT WOULD NOT WOULD NOT accept your copy with double spaces is that he wasn't going to spring for the book to be typeset. He was going to use your file--just as you typed it. Cheap son-of-a-gun. And, as someone upstream stated, this can be fixed with a global replace.

I enormously prefer two spaces because, yes, the single space makes me feel claustrophobic.

Cool blog. Now I want ice cream. :)

Jan Morrison said...

Jeesh! I'm an old person so obviously a double-spacer but I don't think this is the REAL problem. I think the real problem is that SOME (not all, really not all) editors and agents are looking to be irritated. They are irritated because we writers are so sloppy and unprofessional that we simply can't keep up with the industry standards and we need to be punished. Punish away. I'm positive I'm doing something wrong - wrong use of em dashes (go to the corner Emily Dickinson), overuse of italics (hang your head Joyce Carol Oates) no attribution on dialogue (damn you James Joyce) and so on. I think I'll spend my time on trying to write a good book. Yep. That's what I will do.
Jan Morrison

nick said...

Adding a double space after each sentence would probably add another 10-15 pages to a novel. Heaven forbid!!

Wendy Altschuler said...

Oh man, I don't think I could stop double spacing. I agree with you that it looks cleaner. Now you've got me wondering what other bad old habits I have in my writing. ???

Bernardo Ferrara said...

The thing about double space, it's not only the way it looks - if it's prettier or not - it's really about money. I mean, take a 600-page book for example. Can you imagine how many pages we would end up having to add to that book? And this, not only does represent a higher cost to the publishing company, as well it will represent a higher price for us to buy it. And, when we are drafting the book's dool (a small version of it just to see how the pages are going to be ordered) there is a higher probability of blank pages at the end of it, thus, once again, increasing the price of the book and, taking the eco-responsible's point of view, wasting paper for nothing.
And let's face it, single space is just fine! You don't have to double space everything! I mean, if after a period you feel a single space is weird, why don't you double space between each word then?

Sophia Chang said...

Thank you! THANK. YOU.

I absolutely abhor the single space after the period and don't find it easy to read at all. It looks like one big-ass run-on sentence to me.

BUT...I sadly changed my entire ms to single spaces because it's "industry standard." ::crying::

Cheryl said...

I learned to type in the seventies. And I never had a problem with double spaces until recently. Now I get pulled up over it all the time. I still use them though, out of spite and because I just can't get out of the habit after over thirty years of using them. I just use the find and replace to get rid of them after I'm done.

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