Monday, June 16, 2014

One Space After a Sentence or Two?

Writers can get in the most heated debates over the smallest of things. Try telling a writer she has to use Times New Roman font or 25 lines of text per page. You'll see sheer ugliness.




You can almost count the seconds until someone informs everyone she's written 7,000 best-selling novels in Comic Sans MS font and her publishers have never said a word.



But one argument that always makes me snicker is the one-space/two-space argument. You see, back in the old days, it was customary for there to be two spaces after every typed sentence. We're talking these old days...




Professional editors and typographers say there should be one space after a sentence. It's in both the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style. It was officially changed to one space years ago. 




Yet, as this article pointed out, there are numerous people who will vehemently argue that there should be two spaces after every sentence.



Aside from driving your copy editors crazy once you're published, there's another downfall to using two spaces: it dates you. Since most editors and agents these days have never even touched a typewriter, they were never taught to do things this way. Besides, since many editors and agents are grammarians by nature, you just might be driving them crazy with your extra-spacey manuscript.





On another note, how cute is this cover from fellow Aladdin M!x author Gail Nall's upcoming release? Love it! Click to add it to your Goodreads list.




68 comments:

  1. I double-spaced for the longest time (because yes, I typed on a typewriter for the longest time) but fortunately switched to one space before submitting my work anywhere.
    Is there any rule about chapters? Because I send my manuscripts to my publishers without any chapter divisions (since that's the last thing I do) and they've never said a word...

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  2. I don't know if there are rules, but my agent recently posted a blog where she recommended inserting page breaks at the end of each chapter so the chapters stayed in place if you had to make changes. I hadn't been doing that--I've probably been driving her crazy these past couple of years!

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  3. I'm old school and still do two spaces when typing anything. See? I just did it!

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  4. I don't even notice when people do it! I worked in public relations in the 90s, when the big fuss started to be made over it. Since I designed publications like newsletters and such, I had no choice but to train myself. I was surprised how quickly I changed! But some people do a find and replace after their manuscript is finished. Apparently if you don't, it lights up copyeditors' software like a Christmas tree when they open the document!

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  5. I have always single-spaced at the end of a sentence, but then again I am not a writer :-)

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  6. I'm not a writer either and I sometimes single space and other time I double space. Depends on my mood.

    Happy writing
    Hugs,
    JB

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  7. I used to use two spaces, since even when I started using a word processing package that was the way it was still done, but with the advent of ebooks and the likes of Smashwords style guides, double spaces are definitely out for me :) It's one of the things I check for in my manuscripts now, making sure they are automatically removed, since sometimes old habits die hard.

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  8. If you aren't a writer, I would imagine it doesn't matter. It might if you're applying for a job? I don't know...there are people who say you shouldn't name your files with underscores if you're applying for a job because it tells them you're older. That's something people did in the early days of computing. Two spaces might let an employer know you were around a while before the turn of the century, but putting the year you graduated on your resume could do the same thing!

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  9. Do you know its not a thing I have ever noticed. Bad grammar, spelling mistakes, typing errors, use of American spellings when the character is supposed to be English yes I notice all of these things. But whether or not a single or double space has been used has never crossed my mind ..... until now.

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  10. I've first heard about the two spaces a year ago from some of you crazy American writers :))) Nobody else in the world does it :) we all use just a space.

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  11. The one-space rule actually predates the two-space rule by many, many, many years. The two-space rule only ever applied to typewriters and it was only a "thing" for about 20 years.

    I actually learned on a typewriter, so I was used to two spaces for a long time. The person who corrected me was the editor at my first newspaper, who is old enough to be my father.

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  12. Interesting, Dezmond, since I work as an editor in an office with many people originating from countries all over the world and they all use two spaces.

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  13. LOL Renee! Your 20-year thing reminded me of the time I worked in an office and they were trying to save electricity. They told everyone to shut down their computers on Friday nights. 5 years later, they were still shutting their computers down, despite the fact that updates ran on Friday night--so they weren't getting virus scanned. No biggie, but the funny thing was when you tried to tell them to leave their computers on, they'd bring up that edict from 5 years earlier. If someone learns a certain way, getting them to change is VERY difficult. They almost need to be forced to change by a supervisor.

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  14. So true! When I was told, it wasn't even really necessary because we had this really neat software specific to newspaper layout that would revert to one space even if you typed 100 spaces. But when I went to my second newspaper, we did layout in Quark and it didn't do that, so as copy editor, I had to make sure everything was one-spaced.

    I have had this discussion many, many times and the argument for two spaces is ALWAYS, "That's how I learned it, so that's how I'm going to do it."

    *sigh*

    Being an editor is so much more stressful than people realize. Thank goodness for search/replace!

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  15. SO true, Renee. I couldn't believe so many multi-published authors were saying, "I've always done it that way and my editor's never complained, so I'm going to keep doing it that way." O...kay. That's fine, but why make it harder than it has to be? Editors should make the writer fix it--that's the only way it will ever change. I write for multiple clients as a freelance writer, though, and you can bet if I did something like that for them, they wouldn't hesitate to make me fix it! They've come back to me to change the font and send it back to them before.

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  16. They have rules on top of rules and it all depends on who you go to. I never saw the pointy in the 2 space thing, just another button you have to push lol

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  17. Pat, a big part of the reason (aside from aesthetics) for the one-space rule is the bottom line -- money. Think about how long a book like Anna Karenina or anything by George RR Martin would be if there were two spaces between every sentence. It seems small, but it adds up and adds to printing costs.

    I suspect agents fix that issue before submitting to publishers and they've probably given up on trying to convince people not to use two spaces, since it's a pretty easy fix.

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  18. If you have extra time, here's a detailed history of two-space/one-space typography. The two-space thing goes WAYYYY back, according to this. (There are even pictures proving it.) The article states that the standard has been one space since the 60s, which contradicts the myth that typewriters are to blame. It was merely people holding onto what they learned for far too long...

    http://theworldsgreatestbook.com/how-many-spaces-after-a-period/

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  19. haha. i ALWAYS did 2 spaces, but blogging has changed that for me. i now do only 1 space. :)

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  20. I grew up with two spaces. It took me a long time to break myself of the habit, but I did it (finally). Now, two spaces following punctuation just looks wrong to me.

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  21. My husband still uses two spaces after periods for work documents, and it drives me crazy. I don't even know why. It just does. lol I never used to mind the double space when it was acceptable, yet now…it irks me.

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  22. I've always single spaced. But, it's the same with email/letter formats. I always forget them.

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  23. When I used to use a typewriter, I would use two spaces. Nowadays, with everything spacing itself, I use one.

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  24. I took typing in junior high (they call it middle school now;-). And, yes, I did do two spaces. Been told (many years ago) not to make this vintage mistake.

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  25. Did you say... Times New Roman??? HARRRRRR!

    Yeah, you're right. And I'm not even a writer. I'm a blueman, an entirely different breed altogether.

    Hey, I remember those day!

    Two spaces, three spaces... They just want you to do stoop to their standards ;) I'm a grammarian.... but I'm flexible, which I'd say is quite an achievement. No?

    I only buy books with girld on the cover. But seriously, that a cute cover.

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  26. I've always done a single space. I think it depends on your generation. My parents always did double space, but they were raised with typewriters. I guess double spacing with typewriters was a must. I grew up with computers, where one space is all you need. It doesn't really matter in the long run. As long as everything is able to be read, I don't care.

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  27. When I first started writing, the rule was "Courier or Times New Roman ONLY." I'm sure that's still the rule but all of my freelance writing is done in Calibri. It's just prettier. And I like to write my fiction in Lucida Handwriting font for fun...seems more like I'm handwriting it. Of course, I change it back to Times New Roman before submitting. But nobody says you have to follow the rules WHILE you're writing--just change it before you submit it if it makes you happy!

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  28. I'm not an author so I double space. That and I'm in my 60s. No further information needed.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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  29. You could say my day job is a copy editor. For bank policy. I change everything to one space (it's an easy fix with ctrl-H) because I still have some "dated" policy writers using two. I also have the setting turned on in Word to point out where there are two spaces used. I'm all about consistency.

    However, a lot of html publishing converters will override your use of two space. You could add a million spaces, and it will override you and put one. As if the program is say, "you derp...use ONE space!"

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  30. I've read about this double-space thingy recently somewhere but have never really given it a thought since I'm not a writer. I did a basic typewriting course before wayyyy back in 1979 but don't recall having to double space.

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  31. It took me a year to learn not to hit that space bar twice at the end of a sentence. Just hope they don't change it back!

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  32. When writing a post I do not double space. To be honest there isn't much of a noticeable difference

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  33. I have always double-spaced. I guess it doesn't make any difference since I am not a writer. LOL

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  34. I don't think I do the two space thing. Or maybe I do? I should check. I use Word for Mac and I think the font is Times New Roman.

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  35. I was a double spacer for a long time after it switched. I'm really not sure when I transitioned to one space. It sort of just happened on its own.

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  36. I learned two spaces. Yes, on a typewriter. I did it for years. Then I heard on some blog or other that it was wrong. I thought it would be harder to switch over, but it actually wasn't. I can tell the last time I went through some of my manuscripts by whether they have one space after the period or two.

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  37. Hi Stephanie,

    As an avid reader and blogger, I don't really mind whether authors single or double space, so long as they do it one way or the other consistently!

    The same goes for UK English v US English. I don't care whether the author is American or English. I don't mind whether they use US or UK word spellings (well OK, I'll admit it does nark me a bit when UK authors attempt to write a complete book in US English, just to enhance overseas book sales!), just so long as they are consistent.

    The things which really anger me, are bad spelling, poor grammar and inadequate editing and proof reading. If an author is expecting the reader to pay good money for a book and then would like a fair review, they should at least have the courtesy to check their work, then check it again!

    Thanks for visiting Fiction Books last week. I enjoy the chance to chat with new people and always value their comments and views.

    Have a great week,

    Yvonne.

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  38. When reading, double space/single space is pretty much the same to me. I can't tell a difference. My biggest pet peeve? Misusing apostrophies (our's, your's).

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  39. I came from the era of two spaces... however; I am trying to break that habit. Not always easy :)

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  40. One space. I broke the two space habit years ago. It can be done.

    Love,
    Janie

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  41. I learned the double-space way, but once I found out it was a typographical style that was corrected with the use of word-processing software, I switched. It took me about a week to get used to it, then had no problem.

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  42. I broke the habit amazingly quickly. I think it maybe took me a day or two? I don't remember now, but once I started making a concerted effort to do it, it was fairly quick.

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  43. I changed a long time ago. I didn't realise people still double spaced.

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  44. Didn't occur to me that people do one space nowadays! I've always done two, but as a teacher, I think I need to revisit the rules. Hmmm...

    Thank you for the thought-provoking post! Have a great week :)
    Jessica

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  45. That cover IS adorable :)

    I learned to use two spaces after a period when I was taking typing in high school (Because I'm old enough that was a thing. With actual typewriters. So. Yeah.) but when I started writing for online markets I had to train myself to stop doing that.

    When I have my editor/publisher hat on for Niteblade, a find/replace to get rid of extra spaces is usually the first thing I do with any accepted story. You might be surprised...

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  46. I'm not a double spacer at all, lol. I feel like when it comes to writing i mostly just do my own thing and what I feel comfortable with. I haven't gotten in trouble for it yet! :)
    Lily

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  47. Wow! People, editors, publishers get upset over the silliest things..or by saying that did I just make many people angry? To tell you the truth, when (notice I say when) I write that book about my mom, I will need input about these things

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  48. I am not someone who has ever used a typewrite so I will admit two spaces just looks wrong to me. If someone sent that to me to edit I would make marks all over that.

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  49. I Remember learning how to use a typewriter in grade school and they taught us the whole double space thing. For the longest time I use to do it on the computer as well for papers and such.
    Funny how some things change over time and how some of us stick to the old ways and some embrace the new.

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  51. I'm used to just one space

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  52. Good advice about dating yourself. I remember the old typewriter days, but it's probably best to keep that on the down low...

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  53. This debate kind of cracks me up. Until I find someone double-spacing and it makes me a little batty while reading. :)

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  54. When I started writing, maybe 4 years ago now, I wanted to get rid of that extra space.

    Took me about a week to get used to doing only one.

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  55. I vaguely remember the second space from my high school days. Once I started using computers, I dropped it and never looked back. :)

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  56. Personally, I like two spaces and I've been in the habit for years of using two, which dates me. But I know what the rules are and when I submit I do a search-and-replace and make everything single spaced.

    Oh, the suffering we writers must go through!

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  57. In medical transcription with their Book of Style, it is still two spaces between sentences unless the client says something else. I see it as one space and it just looks funny. Call me old fashion indeed (and I did learn how to type on a manual old typewriter, so that's maybe why I'm super old fashion, I won't say old :)

    betty

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  58. I didn't know it was 2 spaces before instead of one, it's a lot on the computer now.

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  59. I did two spaces up until a couple years ago when my critique group said to STOP. We had an editor in our group...lol.

    Even in some of my older posts on my blog, you will find double spacing after each sentence.

    You can always do a find/replace and replace all your double spaces with single spaces. No biggie. :)

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  64. Well, I'm dated. I have always used double space after a sentence, but if the truth is told, I'm not a writer - unless you allow me to say I am because I can hold a pen and make letters on a page.

    In blogging, I can see where it messes up the lines, though. If I could just stop. Is there a self-help group for this? What are the other eleven steps, besides "STOP USING DOUBLE SPACES AT THE END OF SENTENCES!"

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  65. I have no idea how a frozen screen generated multiple posts. Sorry, Stephanie!

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  66. One-space, two-space, LOL! Love it. I learned doing the two-space dance. Had no problem learning the one-space, especially since that meant I was no longer on a typewriter. Ah, but wusses my fingers have become. The last time I played on a manual typewriter, my fingers were to weak to make those keys work properly. hahaha

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  67. I only typed on a typewriter for a few years of my life, but the double space rule was made very clear to me back then. Even though I did most of my writing on a computer- starting in college- I still find myself using two spaces sometimes, though I know it is one nowadays. Some rules are hard to stop- especially when I only learned the one space rule about 2 or 3 years ago. :)

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  68. I learned to type on an electric typewriter in high school. And I'm not even that old! I'm 38. I still use two spaces and didn't even know that the rule was changed until I read this. Mind - blown. Since I've been doing it this way for 20+ years, and I'm not a writer, I think I'll stick with it :) And now I can feel a little naughty about being a rule breaker :D

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