1. The Degenerate
    Offline

    The Degenerate Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    New Jersey

    Two space, or not two space.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by The Degenerate, Jan 20, 2011.

    It seems like there might be an end to the tired debate: http://www.slate.com/id/2281146/

    I've always been of the one space after the period school, but after reading this article, it's interesting to note that typography throughout history has been inconsistent, and the author places the blame on outdated typewriters.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,098
    Likes Received:
    5,311
    Location:
    California, US
    For a while I used two spaces. Then an editor told me to stop it. So now I use one space (which is what I used to do - I switched to two spaces when a former employer asked me to do so).
     
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Location:
    Boston
    I've been using one space my whole life, and so far I've gotten no complaints from anyone. Of course, if submission guidelines say to use two spaces, then I'll use two.
     
  4. Reggie
    Offline

    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    680
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    USA
    I never used two spaces before (unless it was by accident or something, or when I was every, every little). I always use one. I'm not going to agree nor disagree on anyone because, for what ever reason, some people use two spaces and some use one. All I know is, I use only one space after a period, and my instructors hasn't said anything about it yet.
     
  5. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    I was taught in computer/typing classes to use two spaces. Shrug. Never had anyone complain either way, really.
     
  6. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    This seems to be an off and on debate.
    I'd never heard of using two space until a couple of years ago, when I asked my daughter to check something I was ready to submit - she had me go through it and correct it using two spaces. Thankfully before I sent the ms off I read an article in one of the UK's writer's magazines that stated in fiction you use one space. I edited my ms again back to one space. I've used one space ever since. For me 'end of'.

    Edit; I can't quite remember but I think the article said, in fiction - one space, in technical writing - two spaces.
     
  7. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    In the age of computers, it doesn't make sense to use two spaces anywhere. To get a longer space after sentences, it's much better to adjust it in the word processor/typesetter program. With that method, it becomes much easier for you, the editor or the typesetter to adjust the formatting exactly as they want it after the manuscript is written.

    It's also strange that editors ask for electronic submissions to be formatted in a specific way. It would make much more sense for them to ask for unformatted text. Then they could just copy/paste the text into their own template and get exactly the formatting they prefer within seconds. Plus, they'd avoid the risk of spreading macro viruses through sending Word documents back and forth.

    I think the only situation where it makes sense to send word processing documents is when formatting is an important part of the book, or when you place annotations (pop-up comments) inside the documents.

    That being said, if an editor believes she needs electronic submissions to be Microsoft Word documents, pre-formatted with a non-proportional font and double line distance, then you'd better send that.

    EDIT: Now I've got myself so worked up I need to go write a blog entry about electronic formatting...

    EDIT2:
    I agree with the article's reasoning. However, since some people still prefer manuscripts with non-proportional (mono-spaced) fonts, it may be necessary to lengthen the space between sentences to make up for the shortcomings of the font. Case in point: Fantasy Magazine, which only accepts electronic submissions, yet refers to the extremely outdated "standard manuscript format" in their submission guidelines.
     
  8. Raki
    Offline

    Raki Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    6
    I personally use one space. I'm not sure it really matters though, as long as you are consistent.
     
  9. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,098
    Likes Received:
    5,311
    Location:
    California, US
    In most cases it probably doesn't. But I had one editor send a work back to me to change it from two spaces to one. He said the same thing about two spaces being an old typewriting rule that didn't apply any more.

    I doubt it would matter to most, though.
     
  10. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    unformattted? Like, no paragraphs, indention, scene breaks, etc? No thanks. You have a point about not using Word, but I'm thinking a universal and simpler formatting like RTF is better than receiving a block of texts with no formatting at all.
     
  11. Spacer
    Offline

    Spacer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    Two spaces is king.

    WYSIWYG word processors and HTML layout are considerably less advanced then the state of the art in intelligently formatting a paragraph. TeX did a much better job, three decades ago! Other systems might do a better job, and it's nice to have content that is ready to take advantage of it.

    Example: "John Q. Public" contains a period that is not a sentence break. Using only one space there, and two spaces after a sentence, makes it simple and clear which case is which.

    Better typesetting puts more white space between sentences than between words of a sentence. A common word processor gets a nice enough effect by simply typing two spaces. A proper formatter needs to know where sentences break.
     
  12. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    It takes just five seconds to copy the entire contents of the text (CTRL-A CTRL-C), switch to the word processing document with your own formatting, and paste it (CTRL-V). All the indentations, line spacing and paragraph spacing will automagically appear exactly as you prefer them.

    The writer will still need to press Enter at the end of lines, and mark scene breaks with asterisks or something similar, of course. But the recurring details, like indenting the first line of every single paragraph by x inches, is much better handled automatically by the software.
     
  13. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    The reasoning is that typewriters use a monospaced font, which meant it could be difficult to see a gap after a full stop, hence two spaces were used. Besides some weird typographic nostalgia, there's no reason to use two spaces anymore. Modern fonts are much better spaced (except Arial, don't even get me started...), so there is no issue with just a single space.
     
  14. Leah Woods
    Offline

    Leah Woods Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    To be honest, I've never heard of two spaces after the break. At school we were taught to use only one and nothing but. Strange, reading about the debate. Two spaces just look so wrong to me :D
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    those of us who are old enough were taught to use 2 spaces between sentences... the reason for that is the same reason why many editors and agents still prefer it today... it makes it easier to read large amounts of text all day, every day, as well as leaving more room for editing...

    with only a single space, sentences tend to crowd together and don't allow the eye to catch the stop as well as double does...

    the only reason one space became more common for typing on computers is that those supposedly brilliant internet setter-uppers couldn't figure out how to make the double work, so they switched to single... same thing happened to indents, so out they went and in came line breaks...
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. Spacer
    Offline

    Spacer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    I beg to differ. It shows the difference between a period used to end a sentence and a period used for an abbreviation.

    TeX, for example, knows it is very bad to break in the middle of a name, but preferred to break at the end of a sentence. Unlike simple word processors which use a greedy algorithm, TeX globally optimizes the appearance of the entire paragraph.

    I notice that both MS Word and Open Office Writer will in fact set two spaces in a proportional font, thus putting more space between sentences than between words. This is unlike HTML formatting, where I agree the extra space serves no purpose.

    You might want to look up how a Linotype machine worked. Spaces are in fact little springs, not specific sized glyphs that happen to have no inked areas.
     
  17. Boring Editor
    Offline

    Boring Editor Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    3
    mammamaia, indents are still expected for the most part. Standard manuscript format includes double spaces between lines and one half inch indents.

    Everyone should be checking the submission guidelines anyway, but save yourself time and single-space after periods unless otherwise instructed (and it's simple: Replace ". " with ". " and rectify any periods used to abbreviate by Replacing them to their original single space).
     
  18. Raki
    Offline

    Raki Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    6

    I think Mammamaia was referring to posting stories or articles online (not actual manuscript formatting). I think it's rather difficult to show/code indentations on the internet. I could be wrong, but most of the internet stuff I read and post to always contains line breaks instead of indents.
     
  19. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    It's not that hard, web designers are either lazy or don't think it's important. You just make sure to include something like this in the style sheet of your web page:

    Code:
    p { text-indent: 2em;}
    The above code indents the first line of each paragraph by two characters.

    If you later want to double the indentation, for example, you just change 2em to 4em. With the two-space method, you'd have to do a cumbersome and error-prone search/replace of the whole document.
     
  20. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, i was, raki!... i thought my wording had made that clear, but clearly it didn't, for everyone... thanks for setting the record straight...

    hugs, m
     
  21. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    Ahh yes. I saw that article as well and knew there would be a great hue and cry raised in its wake. As Aaron has already pointed out, in the days long past, when the typewriter was king (no, really, men were the only ones to use the machine because it was ... well ... a machine and women were too delicate to understand its intricacies.) in order to clearly differentiate between a word space and a full end of sentence space, a double space was used at the full stop at the end of the sentence. (No. I don't know why they couldn't figure it out with the period unless they just got so confused with the possibility of a title (Sr., Fr., Mr., Mrs., etc.) incorporating a period within a sentence) With the advent of the intelligent keyboard of the computer age, fonts are many and varied and, with the exception of a few, the single-spaced end-of-sentence clearly and cleanly defines the sapce at the end of the sentence.
    There is, as you can see from the varied responses, no set in stone law on the subject. Now, the only thing that really bothers me is the people who get so militant and throw their blood pressure of the charts over something so minor and so easily adjusted on demand as how many spaces one should put at the end of a sentence!
    Not sure I explained that as clearly as I would have liked but, hopefully, you get the picture.
     
  22. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    My employer requires two spaces, and if I don't use two spaces my documents will be rejected. That seems to me to be a good reason for me to use two spaces!
     
  23. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Actually, the one-space started to gain ground before the Internet did, because word processors put extra spacing in after major stops. The fact that they didn't do so correctly is a different matter.

    And I have some old design books -- again, pre-Internet -- which deprecate paragraph indents because they produce "multiple visual axes" which look "confused", and so advocate extra line space to indicate paragraphs.
     
  24. Spacer
    Offline

    Spacer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    You'll notice that it's easier and less error-prone the other way around. Collapsing multiple spaces to a single space is what HTML does. So you know it always works. Adding an extra space requires you to manually check for periods used within a sentence. Doing s/ +/ /g on the other hand is fully automatic.
     
  25. Terry D
    Offline

    Terry D Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    Some editors require two spaces after a stop, some ask for one. Do as the submission guidelines for your target publication requests. If it is not specified, do as thou wilt.
     
    1 person likes this.

Share This Page