type setting, by starfive on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA licensed)
type setting, by starfive on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA licensed)

Every so often, when I’m in the throes of doing a first-pass edit, I let off some steam by tweeting something like, “I get paid to delete the extra spaces you type after a period. Don’t I feel special.”

And then I get a flood of replies steeped in honest confusion, because people believe they should type two spaces after a period.

And then I explain why doing so is just so very wrong.

And then I admit that I, too, was taught to type two spaces, but that I was able to overcome what I was taught.

From now on, I’m simply going to link to this Slate piece by Farhad Manjoo. Read it. Please.

10 responses to “If you type two spaces after a period, you’re doing it wrong.”

  1. maryse Avatar

    i’m sorry my dear, but i will continue to use two spaces.  i don’t mean to do it to be a pain.  i just can’t help it.  it’s what my thumb wants to do.  i also don’t use caps when casually writing.

    on the other hand, no one has to edit my type for a living. so there’s that.

  2. Jennifer Lindberg Avatar

    As someone who learned to type on a typewriter, and typed all my college papers, I found this to be a hard habit to break. But I broke it happily. Now I hear they may have us move our punctuation outside the quotation marks. Have you seen that trend?

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      That’s how the Brits do it, and I think it makes sense to punctuate outside quotation marks in many cases.

  3. Jocelyn Grayson Avatar
    Jocelyn Grayson

    Yeah-I heard this on NPR a few months back. It’s been surprisingly hard to undo the old habit.

  4. Sophia Avatar

    When I started typing the rule was three spaces!  I can do one space  – if I have to – but I think two just looks nicer IMHO :)

  5. Debbie Avatar

    I would love to do this, sadly I am actually required to key in two spaces in my job as a medical transcriptionist/editor. We have been told the voice recognition software requires it. No typesetting is involved and nobody has to remove “extra” spaces, so it’s all good. Fortunately I learned to type back in the dark ages, so no unlearning needed.

  6. CrochetBlogger Avatar

    Amen. This one’s a pet peeve of mine even though I, also, learned that it was right to do two spaces after a period. Whenever editing I almost always use the “replace” option in Word and ask it to replace ” ” with ” “

  7. Jennie C. Avatar
    Jennie C.

    I can’t stop myself – my grade 7 typing lessons on a manual typewriter just can’t be unlearned. But thank goodness for Find and Replace! I just replace all double spaces with a single space and we’re good to go.

  8. yarnivore Avatar

    <3!! As a copy editor, I thank you for this message! I'd love to see the US follow Brit usage on punctuation, too–when no one has to copy edit me, I've started using marks outside the quotes, too (when it makes sense, of course).

  9. LisaBurrito Avatar

    I dunno – I’m having a hard time getting fussed about one arbitrary standard over another….. Debbie’s point about voice recognition software requiring two spaces is the best argument I’ve heard for doing in any particular way other than “it looks better”. (I happen to aesthetically prefer two spaces; I like the pause.) But then, I don’t have to edit to a particular standard; I’m sure if I did, I’d be annoyed by people doing it a way that didn’t match what I had to produce.

    (can we still be friends?)

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