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Wide White: Double-space or single-space?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Double-space or single-space?

I read an article the other day in Slate that argued against the use of double-spacing between sentences. The article begins,
Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.
Well, they didn't exactly leave any doubt as to where they stand.

I realize this is a pretty trivial subject, but it's something that anyone who writes has to wrestle with.

The old school way of doing things is to use double-space. That's how I was taught to type and is how I did things until sometime in the last year or two when I was called out on it by Bill. I realized pretty quickly that there really was no reason to put two spaces between sentences and it wasted a lot of time anyway. Of course it didn't waste a lot of time at once, but over time, all of those extra clicks add up.

But I'm curious, what do you do and why? I'm guessing most of us use one way or the other based on what we were taught, but I wonder if there are any other reasons or if it's something you've never even considered?

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Anonymous Kandi declared,

I think it's ironic that the author of that article was fussing about wasting space by using two spaces after a period...and yet felt it necessary to use four adjectives to describe "wrong." Am I the only one noticing this?

1/20/2011 7:11 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I guess everyone has their grammar quirks. Personally, I really don't notice too much when people double-space instead of single-space, but I know I have enough other stupid quirks...

1/20/2011 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Heather declared,

I use single space - I had never even heard of people using 2 spaces after each sentence. Must be homeschoolers... haha you know I'm kidding!

1/20/2011 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Ellen declared,

I used to double space, as you did, because that's how I was taught as well. Then I was retaught, as you were :) Double space is definitely old school, I've noticed older people do it.

1/20/2011 8:05 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Heather, I'm finding a real mix in people our age. Jamie - NOT a home schooler! ;) - uses double-space and my sister (Ellen) and I were taught double-space, but others I know have always been single-space. My guess is single-space has been phasing out for a while and is incrementally taking over.

1/20/2011 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

It was mandated for me in college up through when I graduated in 2001 so it wasn't something that just old people do.

Although being that I graduated from undergrad 10 years ago could put me in the realm of old :(

1/21/2011 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Blada declared,

Hi Joey. This is great timing because I was also taught to double space after a period. Recently, Lisa saw me typing that way and she said, "You know you don't have to do that anymore."
No, I didn't know that. But Lisa graduated with a degree in Communications and she keeps up on these things. She has books that describe what the rules are, and follows people like GrammerGirl. She also publishes content in print and online so she has to know stuff like that. I'll be sure to tell her about this post, she'll love it.

1/21/2011 8:56 AM  
Blogger watchman declared,

I never did that. I do recall it being taught to me, however. Perhaps it makes sense if we all still used typewriters.

I am, however, a big fan of the single quotation mark (') European style.

'I will not double space after a sentence,' said the man with too much time on his hands, 'but I will use European style quotation marks'

1/21/2011 9:10 AM  
Blogger -V- declared,

Wow - I honestly feel like I'm in the twilight zone right now. I'm one of those 'old folks' (36) who was taught to double space, has done so religiously since high school, and prior to reading this, had no idea there was any other acceptable option! Hmmm... wonder if it will be more work to keep typing the extra spaces - or to attempt to teach myself to change it.

Did someone mention single quotes were an option too? Really?? Or is that just a blatantly rebellious streak? ;-)

Heck - I always resented punctuation rules as a writing major; why defend them now, I suppose...

1/21/2011 11:43 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Watchman, I don't know if I was aware of the single quotes. I do know that Europeans put the period on the outside of the quotation mark.

American: "I am here."
English: "I am here".

V, I don't know if this is just an age thing. Like I said, I used double space until about 6-8 months ago. I can tell you from experience having gone from doing it all my life to dropping the extra space, it was a much easier switch than I thought it would be! It's SO nice to no longer have to worry about missing the space, which I often would do when trying to double-space between sentences.

1/21/2011 12:50 PM  
Blogger Reuben declared,

just did a find and replace on a 25 page document to replace all instances of " " with " "

1/21/2011 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Chet declared,

I now use single-space because my phone made me...kind of. I have a flip phone, so I could get slapped by the iphone guy I guess. Anyway, when texting, if I put only one space after a period, the phone automatically capitalizes my new sentence. If I use two spaces, the auto-capitalization feature doesn't work.

On a humorous note, I just went back and fixed the three double spaces I had following periods in this comment. Guess I haven't completely adapted... And I'm only 21!

1/25/2011 8:43 AM  

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