1. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Double spacing

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Nicoel, Oct 1, 2015.

    I have no idea where to put this, so I'm sticking it in the lounge. If there's a better place for it and you have Magical Powers (*coughs* moderators *coughs*) then you're welcome to move it.

    So, I'm sure everyone here has written an essay in standard MLA format for an English class. It's taught religiously in high school and in college. It's the beauty standard every paper, no matter how well-written, must live up to.

    One of the biggest formatting rules in MLA (and APA I believe) is that you have to double space the entire document. This brings me to my question: WHY!?

    I hate double spaced documents with a fiery passion. I hate writing in double space even more so.

    When you write in double space, a decently complex paragraph could take up an entire sheet of paper that you have to pay to print. Or, more annoyingly, there's an endless amount of scrolling that happens. My biggest pet peeve with it is that if I'm reading something but want to reread something stated earlier, instead of looking up a few inches on the paper, I have to scroll all the way up to another page or flip to another page.

    Why not use Word's more friendly "Multiple" spacing option? There's still space between each line that makes it easier for your eyes to read large quantities and you can still fit a decent amount of content on a page. Plus, it just looks better.

    I'm looking for an honest answer for why MLA requires you to double space everything. Surely there's some logic behind it that I'm missing or too biased to see.
     
  2. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Most agents want their submissions formatted with CMOS instead of MLA. That still means double spaces and this is so that the editors can easily make corrections or notes between the lines. You're not submitting to a graphic designer, no one cares about how your text looks.
     
  3. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    Beat me to it. Also, I thought SHUNN was generally the default for manuscripts.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's also easier to read double-spaced text than not-quite-double-spaced text. Most editors prefer to work with it because we're reading all day and you have to make things as easy on your eyes as possible. Readers love white space.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    But wouldn't double-spacing make it longer to read one document? Multiple Spacing leaves enough space that's easy for the eyes and you can cram in a lot more in one page than you could with double spacing. Here's this paragraph in double spacing for comparison:
    ---------
    But wouldn't double-spacing make it longer to read one document?

    Multiple Spacing leaves enough space that's easy for the eyes and you can

    cram in a lot more in one page than you could with double spacing. Here's

    this paragraph in double spacing for comparison:
    ---------
    If I'm correct, aren't our posts in multiple spacing format? I've never had a problem reading anyone's posts with that style.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It takes the same amount of time to read one sentence whether it's double spaced or not. Your second example is trickier to read because of the weird line breaks, not the line spacing.

    Well, I'm sure there are infinitesimal differences because of the time it takes to physically move your eyeballs down the page but are ANY of us that pressed for time? :D
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Editors and publishing agents going through manuscripts? College professors grading papers?
     
  8. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I was referring to writing papers for classes - not manuscripts for editors!

    And @Link the Writer has my point exactly.
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Needing split second time gains at the expense of their eyes and comprehension? Nah.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've asked students to double-space so I can write comments in between the lines, fix grammatical errors, etc. It's easier to me. Sometimes you have thirty essays to read, so double-spacing also makes it easier for the eyes. But yeah, that's just me. Maybe those who came up with the rule felt the same.
     
  11. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Having space for writing comments makes sense when you have to print the essay out and hand it in. Which, that rule is becoming rarer and rarer as technology is being integrated. Now all you have to do is highlight the sentence, and click "Add a Comment" that will give extra space in the margin.

    I simply just don't understand how double spacing is easier on the eyes and on comprehension... It's worse for me, and frustrating.

    Maybe this is just a me thing. Oh well. Formatting papers "properly" will and continue to always be a last step for me.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    From my experience, teachers/professors will make comments in the margins and not so much in between lines. Like some others have already said, it has more to do with double spacing being easier on the eyes. This is especially true if you have to read dozens of papers.

    Also, double spacing isn't an MLA rule or guideline. It's just something a lot of people like to recommend for the reason stated above.
     
  13. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Hmm, well, I'm taking all of your word that double spacing is easier on the eyes. :p

    As for MLA - it is a rule:
    http://www.sandhills.edu/academic-departments/english/wordguide/mlaformat.html
    https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
    http://ung.edu/writing-center/_uploads/files/oconee/MLA-How-to-Format-a-Paper.pdf
    http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/academic1/mla-style-papers/
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's clearer and quicker to add the correct article or missing word/accent/letter in between the lines than draw a long line all the way to the margin and then write "the" there. This is why double spacing is helpful to language teachers. You can do some of that with track changes and comment boxes, but I consider it a bit cumbersome. For whatever reason, it's also less straining to read the physical paper than 30 essays on your laptop (when you already spend a fair amount of the day staring at the screen). So asking for double spacing or 1.5 is in this sense understandable, afaic. But even if I hadn't been on that side of the fence, I wouldn't have a problem with double spacing. I like it how it makes my essays look longer, as if I had put more effort into them. ;)
     
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  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, I think you're right. That's weird. I assumed MLA/APA/whatever guidelines don't say anything about spacing.

    Maybe I'm just used to college classes, where professors/TAs write comments in the margins. If the punctuation or spelling is bad, they'll make a note of it at the top of the paper. It's pretty much assumed that the paper will be free of such mistakes, so double spacing for this particular reason isn't required. But that's just my experience with it.
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure why a submission made online needs to be double-spaced. Presumably, if it's not PDF, the reader can space it however they like to read it? Or am I missing something?

    I am sure that double-spacing makes printed work easier to read. AND to take comments and notes.
     
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  17. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I submit 90% of my work online, so that's why I'm asking. If the professor doesn't like the spacing, they can just change it, as long as the paper is properly organized and has some sort of break (aka a tab/skipped line).

    I just wanted to understandd....
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just curious. Are you submitting in PDF format? I believe that can't be altered, but I'm not sure.
     
  19. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, that's certainly true if it's not a language class. I can't remember our English professors ever fixing grammatical errors or misspellings except in the BA and MA theses (which had to be double spaced too, even though the final draft was returned electronically). When we returned French and Swedish assignments, it was different. When I taught English to nurses, one assignment was to write an essay that was worth two credits. Everyone who returned it in paper was instructed to double-space the document because especially for Finnish speaking English learners articles are a big issue. When you have space between the lines, it's easier to draw this funnel-shaped squiggle and the/a/an to show what is missing. Plus, printing is free, so it isn't a financial investment either to print out, like, 5 pages.

    It's certainly true that if you just e-mail a .docx file, the teacher can adjust the spacing, font, etc. This is going to sound jaded, but it's actually really quite pointless to instruct, say, high school students to pay attention to formatting. It's challenging enough to encourage them to write, so if the assignment comes in with the default font and spacing of Word, fine, the content is more important there than the formatting. It's a bit different in the academia. I do appreciate rules and uniformity; I guess they're connected to credibility, even though the font or spacing you use won't change the content of the work. It's not like flip-flops and a Metallica shirt will change your ability to negotiate a deal either, but formal dress codes are often adhered to (and expected) in business meetings nonetheless.

    As long as I'm not expected to write in hieroglyphs, I'll be happy to format the paper whichever way instructed. Nowdays when less and less printing is required, for informal essays the formatting requirements seem to be more lax and depend on the professor. With BA and MA theses you have to be more mindful, though. Over here anyway.
     

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