Spacing After Terminal PunctuationPosted by June on March 23, 2015
LABELS: COPY EDITING, PUNCTUATION
Did you know that you're never supposed to double-space between sentences? Most people don't. Almost daily, I see writers putting two spaces after every period -- half of which an editor will have to delete.
Why do people do this? Because once upon a time, long before anyone ever heard the term "word processing," it was correct to double space between sentences. It was logical, too. Back then, typewriters typed in what was called "monospace." The same amount of space was allotted for each character. A capital W got as much room as a tiny little period. Picture that and you can see how much it would help to double space. With just a single space after it, a period looked almost as though it were floating between words. So it just made more sense to always put a double space after any terminal punctuation mark, including question marks and exclamation points.
But that was a long time ago. In the interim, word processing programs starting spacing letters in a more visually appealing way. Eventually, book publishers, periodicals, editing styles and even academic writing rules have came to the nearly unanimous conclusion that there should be just one space after each sentence.
If you've developed the bad habit of double spacing between sentences -- or if you worry you might have -- don't forget how helpful search and replace functions can be. In Microsoft Word, for example, you can just type period-space-space into the "search" field and "period-space" into the replace field and the computer will find and clean up every one at once, or let you approve each change individually.
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June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more
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