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Typing Two Spaces After a Period? You're WRONG!

'Fess up, Neatoramanauts. Who amongst you type two spaces after a period?

Well, according to Farhad Manjoo of Slate, you're wrong. Dead wrong:

What galls me about two-spacers isn't just their numbers. It's their certainty that they're right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the "correct" number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces. Some people admitted to slipping sometimes and using a single space—but when writing something formal, they were always careful to use two. Others explained they mostly used a single space but felt guilty for violating the two-space "rule." Still others said they used two spaces all the time, and they were thrilled to be so proper. When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. "Who says two spaces is wrong?" they wanted to know.

Typographers, that's who: Link

 

The idea that you should only single space after a period at the end of a sentence is very recent. It happened about the same time as newscasters using poor grammar and pronunciation. Typing or handwriting double spacing should be used after a period at the end of a sentence. It improves the readability whether reading quickly, slowly, or scanning for information. Only Forty years ago not one institution of learning or professor of English would have even considered this as a discussion point.
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You know, everything on this page is single-spaced after a full stop. It's kind of funny seeing those who say 'two spaces is better,' but then it only shows one. I personally find one space to be the best, and until just recently, I didn't even know people ever used two spaces. Two just looks so incorrect, I don't even know any websites/books/magazines that do two spaces.
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There is no rule about this and Farhad Manjoo made up most of his facts. You can do it either way.

www.ditchwalk.com/2011/01/19/two-spaces-after-a-period/
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Wow, someone needs to extract their head from their arse. *cough*xk9*cough* I am NOT in my 50's nor my 40's, and I was rigorously taught the two space rule. It was ingrained in my brain for the at least 13 years. To get pissy about it now not only shows how shallow one can be, but also how superior they think they are to the rest of the world. Seriously, it's a space - you shouldn't get your panties in such a knot over it. Clearly it did NOT disappear in the 1950's, Wordpress does NOT as a rule remove them. It is clearly more of a "to each his own" situation, however wordwrap will not treat a double space differently, causing margins to be off. Quit hating, it just makes you age. More.
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Meh. Single spacing is just the current fad. Manjoo is wrong on most counts regarding the history and where this standard came from. See:

http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=324
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@FloydB, I turned 50 last month. I am a career graphic designer. So my stance does not stem from my youth or inexperience.

@TimTHall, I like my jib's tailoring, too. I believe you make some valid points, but please allow me to offer some corrections.

I went back and re-read my comments. Unless I missed something, I never called anyone "ignorant." Yes I referred to "ignorance" of a standard, but I never labeled anyone ignorant. Yes my "flaunting ignorance" comment was snarky, but it was aimed at those who "ignore" the standard because they refuse to do otherwise.

The "fact" I mentioned was that fonts, unless monospaced, include spacing data that allows for the correct amount of space to be entered with one keystroke (the space bar) following punctuation that ends a sentence. The designer who created the font coded that information into the digital font itself.

To those like @Katz who would claim that this is not about typography I'll attempt to disagree by way of analogy. That claim is like a baker saying that making bread has nothing to do with flour, or building a house has nothing to do with nails. Typography is a fundamental element of communication. It used to be solely the realm of professional typographers who worked in typesetting business or at publishing houses, printers or newspapers. The personal computer became the primary tool for typesetting and in time made those other means of typesetting, as well as those businesses, all but obsolete.

Anyone who writes on a computer is a de facto typographer. They may be passively creating with typography, but they are still engaging in typographic composition.

If you care about the look of your correspondence, it might behoove you to know that the MLA, AP Stylebook, Chicago Manual of Style and typographic standard is one space following punctuation. You do not need to heed this standard. Butt those extra spaces will likely be edited out if your document is published online or in print.
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@TimTHall,

Very articulate and accurate comment. Although your assessment is dead right, it doesn't do much good to argue with youth. They think that the way it is now is the way it is supposed to be. They think the world is black and white, wrong versus right, saint versus sinner. They like big bangs and bright colors. The ability to see nuance comes with experience.

Cheers, Floyd
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@XK9,

I like the cut of jib. You enter a discussion by going on and on about how everyone who was taught to double space after a period is wrong and "ignorant." You repeatedly confuse an "agreed-upon standard" with a "fact." Then, after a few smug comments, you try to play yourself off as a "victim" of the stupidity of others, as someone who is "fighting the good fight."

"Right to be wrong[?]" What you meant to say is the right to continue to adhere to a "formerly agreed-upon standard." Saying that there is a "right" and a "wrong" here is tantamount to saying that when a Spanish speaker says, "hola'" he/she is wrong and should say, "hello." Every language needs agreed-upon standards, but these standards are not right or wrong and they are subject to change.
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Several generations of people were taught to always double space after a period (end of sentence). Until they die off, well, there will still be people using 2 spaces after a sentence.

This has nothing to do with typography! This is about keyboards and typists!
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My brother typographers and Cryptique.

I applaud your efforts to impart knowledge, vain though they may be. The trend in this comment thread is to insult those who might insist that there is a standard that should be observed– one that is based on craft and tradition.

We are berated for noting that there is a correct way of composing text, as if it somehow impinges on their "freedom." No one is forced to use one or two spaces. But the same time-honored craft that makes this comment legible, has created fonts that are designed to allow an appropriate amount of space in one keystroke following punctuation. This is not a matter of opinion. It's fact.

So do what you will. Type however you wish. Revel in your right to be wrong. Live long and prosper.
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In the early-eighties I was trained as a phototypesetter on Berthold equipment and I spent 3 years working full time as a journeyman typesetter while paying my way through art school (Yes, typography existed before the Mac). There is “good” and “bad” typography. Certain rules are adapted for a reason. The double word space proved useful for a fixed width typeface, but is not necessary for a proportional typeface. If you want to use two word spaces, then go for it. Be consistent and you might just pull it off, but a classically trained typographer will never agree that it is “right.” Just like we use a period to end a sentence and a comma for a pause, there are rules which help us communicate effectively. If enough people use two word spaces after a period it might just become the new standard, but this argument proves that that won't be happening anytime soon. Peace to all of you.
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I'd rather read a well thought out comment with three spaces after each and every period, than read the vapid thoughts of Mr. OneSpaceCryptique.
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I used to do that. And the reason I did it was because I was TAUGHT that was what I was supposed to do all throughout high school. I still find myself doing it once every so often.
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Actually, Cryptique, typographical standards change over time as you might notice if you read the comments above instead of calling those who remember a different standard lame. By the time children of the computer age are old, these standards will have changed again. Some of the more ahistorically-minded children of the computer age will spend their time arguing that the standard they grew up with is "right" and that the older and younger generations just don't get it. The kind of absolutist, blinkered thought you purvey is, as Peter Griffin would say, "shallow and pedantic."
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Two spaces for monospaced fonts like Courier, one space for the rest. From Grammar Girl:

"Here's the deal: Most typewriter fonts are what are called monospaced fonts. That means every character takes up the same amount of space. An "i" takes up as much space as an "m," for example. When using a monospaced font, where everything is the same width, it makes sense to type two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence to create a visual break. For that reason, people who learned to type on a typewriter were taught to put two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence.

One Space After a Period? The New Way

But when you're typing on a computer, most fonts are proportional fonts, which means that characters are different widths. An "i" is more narrow than an "m," for example, and putting extra space between sentences doesn't do anything to improve readability.

Notice how in this example, the "i's" and "t" take up much less space in the proportional font than they do in the monospaced font.

Although how many spaces you use is ultimately a style choice, using one space is by far the most widely accepted and logical style. The Chicago Manual of Style (1), the AP Stylebook (2), and the Modern Language Association (3) all recommend using one space after a period at the end of a sentence. Furthermore, page designers have written in begging me to encourage people to use one space because if you send them a document with two spaces after the periods, they have to go in and take all the extra spaces out."
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Actually, TimTHall, you're merely regurgitating the same tired response many others have offered, just in a more condescending fashion. But you're still wrong, as it pertains to this particular subject.

To be more specific: regarding vocabulary, and to some extent usage, you're more or less right about common practice pushing change. This, however, is a typographical standard, and it's considerably more stringent (and universally observed, and less subject to change) than what you're referring to, which is a somewhat different arena. You will never see two spaces used anywhere where typographers have a say, and inasmuch as there is a trend, it is toward the use of one space, not two. There will be, for many years into the future, a contingent of holdouts who insist on using two spaces, but their time on this earth is limited, as they age and die off and are replaced by children of the computer age who never knew that two spaces was once taught as correct.
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Majoo is a complete blowhard. I can't even read Slate anymore because of his blowhardiness.

Screw the typesetters and designers. I'm not typing for print or some webmaster's enjoyment.
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Actually, Cryptique, language usage as a whole is determined by the users. Language wells up from below. It is not handed down from on high. To contend that there is a "right" or "wrong" when it comes to how many spaces are employed between sentences is to mistake "convention" for "truth." It's a usage standard, subject to change. For example, many people write "loose" when they mean "lose." If this continues and gathers steam, eventually this "incorrect" usage will become "correct." Dictionaries will reflect this change and then everyone can argue about whether this superfluous change signals dark days ahead for the English language.
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I see many lame justifications here for clinging to two spaces. All of them are wrong.

My favorite: "I’ve had plenty of people tell me I’m doing it wrong, but they can’t cite any legitimate source for the rule."

So, EVERY DAMN TYPOGRAPHER ON THE PLANET aren't a "legitimate" source? How about the Chicago Manual of Style? The AP Manual? The MLA?

Another favorite: "Oh and wouldn’t it be copywriters that would decide what is and isn’t correct for 'copy' rather than typesetters or does the typesetter job cover more areas than I think?"

It covers more than you think. Copy writers and copy editors follow rules set by others. Punctuation and spacing are typographical rules, and those rules are set by typographers.

Sorry, two spaces after a period is wrong, categorically, end of story. This is not a matter of opinion, nor is it a convention that will "evolve" as a result of common usage. It is a long-settled law of typography, and the de facto death of monotype only cements its rectitude.

My typing teacher (circa 1984) had it wrong (we used monotype IBM Selectrics, so it wasn't really her fault), and once I realized that I had been taught incorrectly it took me about a day and a half to switch to using one space. It's not difficult to do.
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When they no longer teach spelling in school and text-ese is the norm, there's no point in arguing about an extra space here or there...

But just for the record, ONE SPACE is correct.
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It wasn't a Microsoft thing to eliminate two spaces. Word processing in general elimnated the need for two spaces, since paragraphs and lines could adjust more easily.

Read Robin Williams' (no, not him, it's a woman) The PC Is Not a Typewriter (aka the Mac is Not a Typewriter, written in 1990) to learn why we don't need two spaces.

Basically, it's because computers have proportional spacing, and two spaces just creates white spaces.
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Some opinions are of Vital Importance, like your doctor's: "stop smoking" or "have the surgery". In comparison, this debate is of Virtually No Importance At All. Therefore, I will continue to two-space after periods.
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I was taught two spaces, and most of the time I do two spaces out of habit. I don't think it is all that important,and I certainly wouldn't call someone ignorant or incorrect for doing it however they want.

In my opinion, the only place it makes any great difference is when you're close to the 140 characters in Twitter.
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I don't even have to read the other comments to know what is right: after colons and periods, it is two spaces. Period. Only when Microsoft decided it was a waste of memory space and unilaterally ruled that Word would auto-correct out two consecutive spaces did it become "standard" to all those who have never known different. Most comment sections of most blogs also "correct" out the second space, much to my annoyance. Why two spaces rather than just one? Because abbreviations also end in a period and unless they are the end of a sentence, they are followed by only one space as a signal to the reader that it is NOT the end of a sentence. I can't believe so few of us even think of that reason. No wonder proof readers are extinct. Those who invented the standard got there first, and unless there is a compelling reason (making it easier on a monopoly, i.e., Microsoft, is not compelling) to stop a practice, they decide what stays and what goes, not those who have been using the system for a couple of decades New users of language don't care nearly as much as older users, because they have no personal investment in it yet. Only when you've grown older with your native tongue do you appreciate all it has done and can do and take pride in mastering it. At least, that's how it should work.
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So...typographers claim superiority and point out how everyone else is wrong. Then tell us how tedious it is to remove double spaces. Anyone with half a brain can do a search and replace to solve that in 10 seconds. Conclusion?
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I'm tempted to start a new trend of typing double periods just to bug the anal retentive.. More than a single period, but not quite an ellipsis.. Still not as annoying as text-speak, such as LOL or TTFN..
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One space is for newspapers, like dropping the pluralizing "s" on possessives ending in "s." They need the space. Two is much more readable, especially when one encounters the horrible run-ons most so-called typographers employ.
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I, also, leave 2 spaces after periods, having learned to type on a manual typewriter and having received negative grades in class for using only 1. Now it is in my muscle memory, and, frankly, until last year, I'd not seen any indication anywhere that I shouldn't be doing that. I sincerely doubt anyone to whom I write email cares at all.
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He was one tough SOB. That's who he was. And you know what, he CARED about our language. He was an avid double spacer and would routinely veal throw single spacers, whom he considered to be jobronies. Look it up. It's right there!
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When every last intellectual on the planet started to the interlard their cant with "sort of," I thought THAT was one of the four horsemen (Arne Anderson to be specific). We had this...sort of...inarticulateness. Turned out to be just a bump in the road. Here I was all in a lather about the fall from enlightenment.
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Could it be that, in a time when people's lives were less complicated, people were more given to contemplation. People used the extra space after a period to give the mind that split second of time to "inwardly digest" while reading. To savor the moment. The space makes it more likely that you will "leave off" then pick up where you left off. And that in our era, the heightened sensory input of modern life leaves us little inclined to linger. It's not a matter of what is right or wrong, ignorant or enlightened, it's just the sign of the times.
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as wiz said, it's that standards have changed, not that the people who have always done it with two spaces were wrong -- unless they're keying to today's standards. i've been in documentation most of my adult life, and think it was in the early 90s when this standard changed. someone will, i'm sure, correct that for me. anyway, what that means is that for those of us who are "old" and have been in that industry for any amount of time, typing with two spaces after a period is far more natural, and we generally have to remind ourselves to change it to one. or, in my case? i just do an edit/replace. ;-)
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One space after a period, known as a "full stop" in England, I hear. Why would you need a moat after a stop sign. It's overkill. Here's a good test for you two-spacers. Squint your eyes and look at a paragraph typed with two spaces after each period (it should look blurry, leaving you look at soft shapes of gray and white). Full of holes. Keep your eyes squinted and check out a properly-spaced paragraph with just one space after each period. It's just a nice mass of gray. You want the reader to move beyond a period, to know when a sentence stops, but not to stop the flow of your reading. You already have a full stop, not to mention what amounts to an extra space above the little dot. Anything more is a waste of a click and a disservice to your readers.
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XK9:

I could tell you that being uneducated is not the same as being ignorant; that the lack of education is not the lack of intelligence. What good would it do? You've already manifested your ignorance.
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I learned to type on a manual typewriter. I was taught to use two spaces after a period. In penmanship, I was taught to leave a space, proud of the average, after each period. Nowadays, it's standard to leave one space behind a period and to use a greatly diminished number of commas. We all got along just fine with a little more white space in the text and, I think, we all get along just fine with a little less white space in the text. If each sentence was separated from its fellows by a hard return, we'd all understand each other just as well. People who get all "teacher said" about these matters usually have little to communicate.

Language has been going to hell in a hand basket since the first caveperson grunted. Despite all the naysayers, we always manage to communicate as well as we ever have. When people correct, they are just trying point out their own "superior intellect." It's a bit pathetic and it ignores the fact that there are a hell of a lot of people that are much smarter than you or I that have terrible grammar. It's a cheap little ego trip for the mediocre.
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Cluck,

Like it or not, when you write in the 21st Century, you are a typographer. What you type is being displayed in a typeface that is either a choice or a default, like the font used by Neatorama's WordPress theme.

All of those generous two-spaces you used in your rebuke of my comment were changed to one space by the same WordPress theme. Why? Because it's correct.
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I was taught in 4th grade to use 2 spaces. I still do it. I've had plenty of people tell me I'm doing it wrong, but they can't cite any legitimate source for the rule.

I don't get worked up over people who use a single space. I wonder what it is about the double-space that causes such animosity.

So far, I see the opposite of what the OP says. It seems like the majority of the comments (and the majority of my experience) have been single-spacers getting upset, while double-spacers shrug.

You want to use a single space, that's OK with me. I use a double because that's what I was taught. Not because it comes down to "right" versus "wrong."

(Also, I use the extra comma. Rice, beans, and cheese. Not rice, beans and cheese.)
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Listen to the Grammar Girl:

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/spaces-period-end-of-sentence.aspx

She cites the Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook and Modern Language Association (MLA) as advocates of one space after punctuation.
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I learned on a typewriter and I used Lettraset stencils when I first started in the biz. In french speaking colleges, in graphic design and typography, we learn to use 1 space. (They still teach the one space, its on the 2011 edition of my french typo guide book)
The 2 space is for secretaries:p Nothing against them, I just hat having to remove all those extra space every time I receive text for work.
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The reason folks like me get bothered by you two-spacers is that you proclaim this arbitrary or a matter of taste. It's not. It's not "tiny-minded" to appreciate and advocate intelligent use of language and correct typographic composition.
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I was never taught to use two spaces. As far as I'm aware a space is a space, the size of the space is irrelevant but should be consistent. So if you leave one space between two words then you should leave one space after a full stop (a period is something else altogether).

Do you leave a doubly large space after a full stop when handwriting?
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"It is a typographic standard. Microsoft Word defaults to eliminate the second space."

First typographical standard does not equal a language authority and we are questioning language rule. Second MS Word does not default to eliminate the second space after a period (go try it).

Why do many of us use two spaces and why is it taught? Because that is what The Little, Brown Handbook says we should use.
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Funny, I took typing classes in high school and was never taught to use two spaces...but then, maybe I wasn't paying any attention. I have never used 2 spaces and think it would look odd to do so.
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Wikipedia suggests that "French spacing" was dominant until the advent of the Typewriter, at which time "double-spacing" became popular, but by 1950 publishers reverted back to single spaces. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing) Which may explain why, in the 1990s I was taught single-spacing.
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I was taught to use two spaces but have since converted to using one space. Who cares? People who get their knickers in a twist about insignificant grammatical rules, like Bill Dawson above, are of the tiny-minded ilk. The worst is when one of these dome-headed monsters of intellect derail an entire conversation to announce their deep devotion to a concrete set of rules when the use of language is anything but a lapidary affair.

If any schoolmarms find grammatical errors in my comment, contact my editor at 1-800-YOU-SUCK.
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Sigh. Didn't we have this argument last year? Maybe that was at another site. Publishers use one space; typing teachers tell students to leave two spaces. Never the twain shall meet.

I never took a typing class, so I always did it the way publishers do it. When I started editing Neatorama, I would actually take double spaces out of other writer's posts. I gave that up. No one is going to change the way they were taught; that's why many word processors are programmed to take out the second space.
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There are two different ways to handle spacing and fonts:

Proportional (modern) typefaces have very carefully designed spaces that are optimized to be used only once. Most modern text editing programs will even remove a second space. Even HTML will ignore extra spaces unless explicitly coded.

While using two spaces is great for monospaced fonts. These are usually found in Typewriters, 80's era software, and Coding/Terminal programs.

But above all, it is ultimately about what looks best.
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The author brought this topic up over Thanksgiving dinner... Really? If I went to a dinner where this was a topic of conversation I'd excuse myself as quickly as possible and never return.
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Turabian required it when my spouse was writing his history papers, which is when I learned it. This has since been updated to one space, but by then I'd adopted it. I don't bloody well feel like changing back since we are talking about one or two nothings.

Rules change, typographers are not my absolute overlords.
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And the word "forte" was supposed to be pronounced "fort", not "for-tay". Now "for-tay" is an accepted pronunciation. Rules change. If the mass of humanity adds two spaces after a sentence, guess what's gonna change? Now, go back to arguing that there is nothing ironic in any of the things in Alanis Morissette's "Ironic".
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I've never questioned that one-space is standard. It's what I was taught in school. 5 spaces or indent using tab at the beginning of a paragraph, otherwise its a single space. I've actually gone through text removing double-spacing because I think it looks bad.
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THANK YOU!

I too learned to type before MS Word eliminated the need for the second space after periods and colons. It didn't take me long to adapt, and now, with any text I edit, I automatically do a global search and replace of all double spaces.
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I was taught to type on a manual typewriter in the 80s, passed exams in typing and we were taught two spaces after the full stop (I'm from the UK).

However, I stopped many years ago as it felt like a rule specifically for typewriters and not for computers oddly.

I'm surprised anyone would really get hot and bothered about it.
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I learned to type way back in the days before electric typewriters. That's right, I actually had to develop my pinky-finger muscles in order to hit those z and ? keys, and needed to return the carriage manually at the end of every line!

We were taught to leave two spaces after every period,
so I don't need some young whipper-snapper telling me I'm "wrong" because the standards have changed to accommodate the new technology.

A day will come when our electrical plants fail, and my fellow "old school" typists and I will blow the dust off of our slumbering typewriters and rise once more to assume our rightful positions of supremacy!
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as a person with an english degree, i'm ashamed to admit i didn't even realize this was a rule. maybe it's because by the time i started having to actually type things, we had a computer, and as the first commenter mentioned, most notepad-type programs default to a single space.
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It's kind of unfair to say we're wrong, per se. At worst we may be out of date. Unfortunately, the habit is deeply ingrained. We were taught in school -- and received penalties on our grades if we forgot -- that 2 spaces was absolutely required after a period. The fact that style guides have been updated since that time doesn't really justify the whole "you people are idiots" mentality that you militant one-spacers exhibit.
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this is why I insist on a typing sample before I do business with anyone. I am a two-spacer, and I only do business with two-spacers like me.
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Don't a huge number of businesses/corporations have house-style books explicitly to cover the vagaries of what passes for 'rules' in the world of 'copy'?

Oh and wouldn't it be copywriters that would decide what is and isn't correct for 'copy' rather than typesetters or does the typesetter job cover more areas than I think?
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I had a post about this yesterday.

http://xk9.com/bones/tt-012

There is nothing arbitrary about this rule. It is a typographic standard. Microsoft Word defaults to eliminate the second space.

If you don't mind driving a purple car or having your text look unprofessional, feel free to flaunt your ignorance for all to see.
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stuff like this is like saying that you are wrong for having purple as your favorite color. this arbitrary "rule" is arbitrary.
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