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Author Topic: Pedant? Calling Pedant! How many spaces after the period?  (Read 25095 times)
unnamed
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« Reply #45 on: October 02, 2008, 3:57:14 pm »

I was taught one finger-space between words, and two between sentences.

So was I. In high school, before computers, when an electric typewriter was the height of technological savvy. The world has changed. Alas.

Exactly. Then I went to college, and learned that lots of things I thought were "truth" in High School were not so.

Well, that too.  I was taught to type on a computer, by a lady of advanced years, and am definitely in the two-spaces school.

But in my original statement, I meant when I was learning to write with a pencil.
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gennidad
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« Reply #46 on: October 03, 2008, 12:18:23 am »

I remain firmly in the two-space camp, and will until the day I die.  However, I think this is one of those Mac/PC arguments: We have each chosen a way that works for us.  And, let's face it, it doesn't really matter, as long as (1) we're consistent, and (2) our editors (or other Powers That Be) are happy.

As for students, I'm just happy when they put any space at all after a terminal punctuation mark.

How about not using textspeak in a paper.  I actually saw this in a paper I was proofreading for a classmate.  I wrote a HUGE note on the paper telling them to get rid of the textspeak. 
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polly_mer
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« Reply #47 on: October 04, 2008, 10:37:01 pm »

Two spaces between sentences, dammit!  Otherwise, I cannot use the shortcuts in vi to edit the paper.

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schoolmarm
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« Reply #48 on: October 04, 2008, 10:56:30 pm »

Oh, good grief folks!  What style guide are you using?

APA=one space
Chicago/Turabian=one space. 

One space follows any terminal punctuation.

I don't write in MLA and I don't know what that style guide says.

I also learned to type shortly after Moses brought down the ten commandments.  I have to do a search for .[space space] and replace with .[space].  I then do a search for ! and ? just in case.

However, this post was typed with two spaces following terminal punctuation.  I AM, after all, a schoolmarm!
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polly_mer
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« Reply #49 on: October 04, 2008, 11:05:38 pm »

Oh, good grief folks!  What style guide are you using?
I just checked and the AIP style guide didn't mention it.  It mentions how to punctuate equations, but nothing about spaces between sentences.
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walker_percy
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« Reply #50 on: October 04, 2008, 11:09:02 pm »

I've heard one since the advent of word processing. Have no idea why.
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kilpikonna
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« Reply #51 on: October 04, 2008, 11:14:17 pm »

I was taught one finger-space between words, and two between sentences.

So was I. In high school, before computers, when an electric typewriter was the height of technological savvy. The world has changed. Alas.

Exactly. Then I went to college, and learned that lots of things I thought were "truth" in High School were not so.

Well, that too.  I was taught to type on a computer, by a lady of advanced years, and am definitely in the two-spaces school.

But in my original statement, I meant when I was learning to write with a pencil.

Me too!  I think that's why I transferred the behavior when I learned to type... and it's so ingrained that I, too, have to do search/replace to satisfy APA style.  You can see that this behavior is ingrained because I even do it here, in a thread where the majority will probably make fun of me... :)
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« Reply #52 on: October 05, 2008, 8:17:11 am »

I've heard one since the advent of word processing. Have no idea why.

Word processing made it possible for Joe Six-Pack to be able to use proportional fonts (previously only available to printers/designers). The argument for two spaces after a period comes from the days in which the average consumer/student/secretary used a typewriter with fixed-width fonts. The problem with fixed-width or monospace fonts is that there is too much spacing between the letters of each word for maximum readability. In other words, the problem is not with the spacebar character itself as with what that character is being used to separate -- words that are bloated with too much space trapped inside. So, in order to provide a clear visual cue that a sentence had come to an end, two spaces worked better than one -- a noticeably bigger amount of visual emptiness. It is, paradoxically, a matter of proportion.

Now that Joe Six-Pack can (and does) use proportional fonts, the space-inside-the-word problem is fixed. Characters cling to one another and are clearly visually clumped into words. Spaces between words are easier to process. Still, the space between sentences needs to be slightly larger than the space between words, in order to mark the end of a sentence; the viewer's eye often scans ahead slightly when reading, sees that the end of the sentence is coming up, and tells the brain that the idea is about to start wrapping up, so that needs to be perceived by the brain as a slightly larger space than those between words.

The argument of the one-spacers, which is the same argument that the printing industry has been using for a long time (do you have any recent books that are typeset with two spaces between sentences?), is that 1) when setting text, the space characters are actually stretched or shrunk by tiny, tiny increments to space the line visually, and using an extra space throws this whole delicate process out the window, and 2) the reader visually perceives the space between sentences to be larger than the space between words anyway, because the visual space *above* the period gets included with the adjacent spacebar character, and that inclusion (as small as it is) is enough for your brain to make the distinction.

Which is to say, you can go ahead and use two spaces if you want, but you are deliberately choosing to create what is universally understood among professionals to be bad typography. You will have rivers of white space running down the page.

It also goes without saying that proper leading is critical to maximum readability and aesthetics, and that double-spaced papers don't get any points in either category here. But the argument presented here has traditionally been that double-spacing allows the professor to write comments between the lines, so I can see why that hangs on.

VP
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generalist_j
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« Reply #53 on: October 05, 2008, 9:40:07 am »

vox,

Thank you so much for this clear explanation!!! I knew the truth, but never quite understood it. I was just parroting it. So, it's the appearance of the words that makes one space after the period sufficient? I had vaguely always thought something along the lines that on a typewriter, the "period" key didn't produce enough spacing, and so you needed to add an extra space.

I now know how to explain this to my two-spacing students!

GJ
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« Reply #54 on: October 05, 2008, 10:51:26 am »

VP's explanation of the two perspectives is exactly right.  I don't agree with her conclusion ("rivers of white space running down the page"), but I recognize that many people do and that more probably will as the years and decades go by.  What I found interesting in her post, though (and I say this with friendly amusement, dear voxy), is that while she adheres to the one-space sensibility, she (like many people) adds a space before and after her dashes--a practice I find odd and unnecessary.   :)
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« Reply #55 on: October 05, 2008, 11:48:26 am »

VP's explanation of the two perspectives is exactly right.  I don't agree with her conclusion ("rivers of white space running down the page"), but I recognize that many people do and that more probably will as the years and decades go by.  What I found interesting in her post, though (and I say this with friendly amusement, dear voxy), is that while she adheres to the one-space sensibility, she (like many people) adds a space before and after her dashes--a practice I find odd and unnecessary.   :)

Shall we have a new thread on this dash-spacing phenomenon. Why wouldn't you put a space if it's a dash and not a hyphen?  I don't often use dashes, so perhaps I'm just ignorant on this point.
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« Reply #56 on: October 05, 2008, 11:54:36 am »

VP's explanation of the two perspectives is exactly right.  I don't agree with her conclusion ("rivers of white space running down the page"), but I recognize that many people do and that more probably will as the years and decades go by.  What I found interesting in her post, though (and I say this with friendly amusement, dear voxy), is that while she adheres to the one-space sensibility, she (like many people) adds a space before and after her dashes--a practice I find odd and unnecessary.   :)

Shall we have a new thread on this dash-spacing phenomenon. Why wouldn't you put a space if it's a dash and not a hyphen?  I don't often use dashes, so perhaps I'm just ignorant on this point.

In the early part of the twentieth century (and earlier), it was not uncommon to see spaces around a dash, but that practice was abandoned by typesetters many decades ago--again, for readability.  These, by the way, are called em-dashes (because, back in the days of lead type, they took up the same width as the letter "m").  En-dashes (the width of an "n," natch), which are used, for example to separate a range of numbers, such as two dates or two page numbers, also do not usually get spaces around them.  And, of course, hyphens never do, except for such uses as "him- or herself" (to avoid repeating "-self").

But as I said upthread, and as voxy implied from her post, there really is no right and wrong about this; it's a matter of style, which is why it has to be included in style books.  You say toe-mah-toe, I say toe-may-toe, and all that.
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« Reply #57 on: October 05, 2008, 12:04:24 pm »

I don't write in MLA and I don't know what that style guide says.


It says one space. :)
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charlieinthebox
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« Reply #58 on: October 05, 2008, 12:08:29 pm »

I've heard one since the advent of word processing. Have no idea why.

Word processing made it possible for Joe Six-Pack to be able to use proportional fonts (previously only available to printers/designers). The argument for two spaces after a period comes from the days in which the average consumer/student/secretary used a typewriter with fixed-width fonts. The problem with fixed-width or monospace fonts is that there is too much spacing between the letters of each word for maximum readability. In other words, the problem is not with the spacebar character itself as with what that character is being used to separate -- words that are bloated with too much space trapped inside. So, in order to provide a clear visual cue that a sentence had come to an end, two spaces worked better than one -- a noticeably bigger amount of visual emptiness. It is, paradoxically, a matter of proportion.

Now that Joe Six-Pack can (and does) use proportional fonts, the space-inside-the-word problem is fixed. Characters cling to one another and are clearly visually clumped into words. Spaces between words are easier to process. Still, the space between sentences needs to be slightly larger than the space between words, in order to mark the end of a sentence; the viewer's eye often scans ahead slightly when reading, sees that the end of the sentence is coming up, and tells the brain that the idea is about to start wrapping up, so that needs to be perceived by the brain as a slightly larger space than those between words.

The argument of the one-spacers, which is the same argument that the printing industry has been using for a long time (do you have any recent books that are typeset with two spaces between sentences?), is that 1) when setting text, the space characters are actually stretched or shrunk by tiny, tiny increments to space the line visually, and using an extra space throws this whole delicate process out the window, and 2) the reader visually perceives the space between sentences to be larger than the space between words anyway, because the visual space *above* the period gets included with the adjacent spacebar character, and that inclusion (as small as it is) is enough for your brain to make the distinction.

Which is to say, you can go ahead and use two spaces if you want, but you are deliberately choosing to create what is universally understood among professionals to be bad typography. You will have rivers of white space running down the page.

It also goes without saying that proper leading is critical to maximum readability and aesthetics, and that double-spaced papers don't get any points in either category here. But the argument presented here has traditionally been that double-spacing allows the professor to write comments between the lines, so I can see why that hangs on.

VP

I'm willing to acknowledge that one space is the current style in most places, but as long as two spaces is accepted (even as a quaint old-fashioned quirk), I will use that.  I do so in part because I am stubborn, but mostly for readability.  The block paragraphs VP has above look like undifferentiated masses to me and are hard to read.  I find creating some texture in the visual look of the paragraph more pleasant to see and easier to read.  I think this is especially true when reading online or off of a computer screen.
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dr_evil
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« Reply #59 on: October 05, 2008, 12:19:54 pm »

I know it's supposed to be one space, but I find two to be more readable.  It's a bad habit that I am unwilling to break.  I will instead focus on other, more important bad habits to break, like trying to stop screaming in pain when students write "to" when they mean "too" or worse, write "2" for "two," "to," and "too."
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