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Old 04-17-2008, 10:09 PM
goofball goofball is offline
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One space or two?

I was told in high school to use two spaces after the period that ends a sentence. Lately though, I've noticed some web sites advocating the use of only one space after the period at the end of a sentence.

So which is correct - one space or two.
  #2  
Old 04-17-2008, 10:12 PM
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Two. Comrade.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:16 PM
IdFindAnAAnswerForThat IdFindAnAAnswerForThat is offline
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Part of that rule comes from the use of a typewriter as opposed to a computer.

I have had to use typewriters and I don't see how people did it before, it was a lot of work just tyring to get the words to look justified.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:20 PM
Captain Carrot Captain Carrot is offline
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I was born in 88 (I think there's probably a significant change in this over time), and I've always been told to use one space. In general, abide by the governing style manual of the environment where you're writing.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:21 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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I'm not really sure where you think the definitive answer is going to come from here. I'd check Strunk & White's Elements of Style if I owned a copy.

Professionally I've always been told to use one space.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:27 PM
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In high school and university I was told to use one space.

As soon as I started my first job, I noticed that all of our reports/memos/etc. had two spaces. It's been almost a year and I'm still getting used to it...and I still think it looks wrong.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:27 PM
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My understanding is, you should use two spaces if you're using monospaced font (e.g. Courier, or a mechanical typewriter). If you're using proportional font (i.e. just about every computer font) you should use one space.

(Monospace means every character takes up the same space - a period takes as much space as the letter M.)
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:30 PM
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More than you probably ever wanted to know about the history and practice of spacing in typesetting, typewriting, and desktop publishing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_spacing
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:32 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Even editors who still request hardcopy manuscripts are calling for the use of only one space after a period. The two space rule made sense only in the era when typesetters had to manually retype the manuscript to get it into print and the extra space was a safety precaution just in case a tiny, badly inked, or poorly registered period got missed.

Nobody ever used typewriters to justify text. (A slight exaggeration even in the old days and some electronic typewriters could do this before people switched over to computers, but so close to never that only the nitpickiest of nitpickers would even mention it.) You justified type by inserting spaces as needed when composing on a printing machine that was designed to do so.

As a general rule today, never use two spaces after a period unless you are specifically told to do so. Take it from someone who's been typing manuscripts on manual typewriters, then electric typewriters, then electronic typewriters, then onto computer screens and printing them out for a collective 40 years. The two space days are dead.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:37 PM
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While there is no single "correct" style, I believe the general consensus these days is for a single space.

The two-space convention dates mainly to typewriters and to fonts like Courier that imitate them, where each letter takes up exactly the same space. In modern proportional fonts used by word-processing programs, the one-space is convention is generally used. Of course, if you are using full justification the spaces between words are going to vary quite a bit anyway, so two spaces between sentences won't stand out much.

The Chicago Manual of Style currently recommends a single space, and this CMS copyeditor gives the reasoning.

Here's more from an professor of English recommending a single space.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:49 PM
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Note that web browsers will display a single space no matter how many you type. Quote this post or look at its source for proof.

Last edited by ultrafilter; 04-17-2008 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 04-17-2008, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdFindAnAAnswerForThat
I have had to use typewriters and I don't see how people did it before, it was a lot of work just tyring to get the words to look justified.
If you mean justified text along the right margin, then usually people didn't bother aiming for that. The behavior simply was: one space between words, two spaces between sentences. When the typewriter bell chimed, you knew it was time to finish up your word and hit the carriage return. If it was a long word, you might choose to split and hyphenate it instead of putting it all on the next line.

That was about as much finesse as went into text formatting on typewriters.
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Old 04-17-2008, 11:00 PM
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They can take my two spaces from my cold, dead hands.

Incidentally, the LaTeX markup system puts extra whitespace (not quite double) after periods by default.
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Old 04-17-2008, 11:25 PM
emmaliminal emmaliminal is offline
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In several contexts nowadays, two spaces are gauche. In others, not so much.

As Colibri et al intimate, the original practice of using two spaces after end punctuation was a deliberate workaround for monotype fonts: that is, it was hard to *see* the ends of sentences when every character had the same width or weight. In contexts where monotype fonts are still de rigeur, such as formally submitted but as-yet-unpublished screenplays or stage scripts, double sentence spacing is expected, because those forms still call for monotype fonts.

However, in print publishing and related disciplines that take sophisticated type for granted, two spaces call attention to themselves as representing an old fogey.
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Old 04-17-2008, 11:56 PM
Darryl Lict Darryl Lict is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrafilter
Note that web browsers will display a single space no matter how many you type. Quote this post or look at its source for proof.
Wow, that's a lot of spaces. Yeah, in in 1971 I got an A in typing. I was taught to type 2 spaces to delimit sentences. Modern word processors including the one implemented by this message board seems to be able to toss in an appropriately visually aesthetic spacing no matter how many spaces you toss in.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:05 AM
Bytegeist Bytegeist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyforce
However, in print publishing and related disciplines that take sophisticated type for granted, two spaces call attention to themselves as representing an old fogey.
Have you seen how the younger generation writes? Seriously.

Using capital letters marks you as an old fogey.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:09 AM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofball
I was told in high school to use two spaces after the period that ends a sentence. Lately though, I've noticed some web sites advocating the use of only one space after the period at the end of a sentence.

So which is correct - one space or two.
What are you doing it for? What's the style manual?

I ask this because, as an editor, I tell authors to please not use two spaces ever, because they can upset the general equilibrium when pouring the author's manuscript into whatever we're using to typset it to turn it into a printed book.

But I also do freelance work, and one of the editors I work with likes to have two spaces in the raw copy she gets, I don't know why. No problem for me, as Word will set it to put in the space, or take out the space, automatically.

The general trend, though, is one space.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:48 AM
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I was taught in high school typing class - on a typewriter - to use 2 spaces. That's the only place I've ever heard of that or seen it used in my entire life. This was in 1995 when most other schools were using computers - my school was just ludicrously underfunded.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:54 AM
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As long as it's not no space, like some people persist in doing.
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Old 04-18-2008, 09:29 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco
I was taught in high school typing class - on a typewriter - to use 2 spaces. That's the only place I've ever heard of that or seen it used in my entire life. This was in 1995 when most other schools were using computers - my school was just ludicrously underfunded.
I learned the same thing in high school in 1991 or so, also on a typewriter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Carrot
I was born in 88 (I think there's probably a significant change in this over time), and I've always been told to use one space.
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyforce
two spaces call attention to themselves as representing an old fogey.
You can have my two spaces after a period when you pry them from my cold dead hands. Now GET OFF MY LAWN, you punks!
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:40 AM
mazinger_z mazinger_z is offline
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I was taught all the way through law school to use two periods. If my paralegals give me anything with one space, I write across the first page: "TWO (2) SPACES BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS!1!" Then, I send a company wide e-mail showing the example, and I make sure to make note of it on his performance review.
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mazinger_z
I was taught all the way through law school to use two periods. If my paralegals give me anything with one space, I write across the first page: "TWO (2) SPACES BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS!1!" Then, I send a company wide e-mail showing the example, and I make sure to make note of it on his performance review.
You sound like a really great guy to work for.















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Old 04-18-2008, 11:42 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mazinger_z
I was taught all the way through law school to use two periods. If my paralegals give me anything with one space, I write across the first page: "TWO (2) SPACES BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS!1!" Then, I send a company wide e-mail showing the example, and I make sure to make note of it on his performance review.
Wait...two periods? Two spaces between paragraphs? What are you talking about? Is this a serious post?
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:56 AM
Sophistry and Illusion Sophistry and Illusion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne Neville
IYou can have my two spaces after a period when you pry them from my cold dead hands. Now GET OFF MY LAWN, you punks!
Yeah!

Frankly, I'm not sure I could re-train myself to put one space after a period. I have been typing so long, and typed so many hundreds of thousands of words, that my thumb goes 'tap tap' on the space bar after a period of its own volition.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:02 PM
KidScruffy KidScruffy is offline
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Wait, so do word processing programs do the work for me, so I don't have to worry if I do still use two spaces? I had a high school typing class where we did use computers, and even there I was taught then to use two spaces... the thing is, I don't give a crap which I'm supposed to use, I'm just pretty sure I can't retrain myself after all these years. So will Microsoft Word take care of the situation for me, or do I have to change an option somewhere?

On preview, I'm glad I'm not the only one worried about being able to retrain myself.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasta
They can take my two spaces from my cold, dead hands.
Me, too. I learned to type on a manual typewriter, and had two spaces hammered into my brain, along with plenty of other stylistic dinosaurs.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:44 PM
h.sapiens h.sapiens is offline
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Originally Posted by Sophistry and Illusion
Yeah!

Frankly, I'm not sure I could re-train myself to put one space after a period. I have been typing so long, and typed so many hundreds of thousands of words, that my thumb goes 'tap tap' on the space bar after a period of its own volition.
I learned in high school and throughout college to use two spaces. When I started working as a typesetter (pre-desktop publishing), I used an electronic typesetting system that wouldn't allow you to type two spaces in a row. In fact, it would beep at you when you did. That cured me of the habit in no time.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:47 PM
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I learned to type on a computer, and although I don't remember who taught me, I also learned to put 2 spaces between sentences. I'm pretty sure that I can't retrain myself at this point.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:51 PM
Sophistry and Illusion Sophistry and Illusion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h.sapiens
I learned in high school and throughout college to use two spaces. When I started working as a typesetter (pre-desktop publishing), I used an electronic typesetting system that wouldn't allow you to type two spaces in a row. In fact, it would beep at you when you did. That cured me of the habit in no time.
I'm pretty sure that if my computer beeped at me every time I typed two spaces, the first casualty would be my computer, not my two-space habit.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Lict
Modern word processors including the one implemented by this message board seems to be able to toss in an appropriately visually aesthetic spacing no matter how many spaces you toss in.
Actually, it has nothing to do with this message board particularly. It's part of how HTML is formatted by your browser. By definition, anything more than a single space is condensed downed into one (unless explicitly forced using the blank space entity).

Essentially, the entire web is doing single space after a period by default.
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:56 PM
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My first typewriter, back in 1976, was a big sturdy Royal, on which I always put two spaces after a period. I doubt if I could change from two spaces to one even if I wanted to; even though I've embraced the various neat things one can do with word processing, my basic typing habits are still there. (Though when I started using computers in the '80s, it took a while to stop listening for that ding!. I kind of miss sliding the carriage back with my left hand. Always felt like I'd accomplished something.)

If an editor specifically requested only one space after periods, it would be easier for me to type it normally and then do a global replace of "period space space" with "period space".
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:21 PM
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Do those of you who think adaptation is impossible for you still hit 'enter' ('return' on an electric typewriter) at the end of each line? Do you still use a tab to begin indented paragraphs? Do you center text by tabbing to the center, backspacing once for every pair of characters in the line, then typing it in? Do you do everything in 10 point (elite) or 12 point (pica) size?

If not, why do you think you're incapable of changing your typing habits?

I'm a typographer, and I hate double spaces. The first thing I do when receiving any text from anyone is use a find/replace to get rid of them. Then I do the double returns, the spaces at the end of paragraphs (after the period), spaces or tabs at the beginning of paragraphs, and a lot of other bad-typing artifacts.

By the way, I learned to type on a manual typewriter as well, and was taught double-spacing after periods. But I stopped doing that immediately when I got on a computer.
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage
More than you probably ever wanted to know about the history and practice of spacing in typesetting, typewriting, and desktop publishing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_spacing
Is it just me, or does anyone else find all the introductory material in that article (preceding the table of contents) to be entirely opaque?
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:34 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltire
Do those of you who think adaptation is impossible for you still hit 'enter' ('return' on an electric typewriter) at the end of each line? Do you still use a tab to begin indented paragraphs? Do you center text by tabbing to the center, backspacing once for every pair of characters in the line, then typing it in? Do you do everything in 10 point (elite) or 12 point (pica) size?

If not, why do you think you're incapable of changing your typing habits?

I'm a typographer, and I hate double spaces. The first thing I do when receiving any text from anyone is use a find/replace to get rid of them. Then I do the double returns, the spaces at the end of paragraphs (after the period), spaces or tabs at the beginning of paragraphs, and a lot of other bad-typing artifacts.

By the way, I learned to type on a manual typewriter as well, and was taught double-spacing after periods. But I stopped doing that immediately when I got on a computer.
Amen. I don't get it either. As I said above I spent more than 20 years on typewriters and even took a typing course to help my speed. I'm as old school as they get.

And as soon as I got a computer (which was before Captain Carrot was born ) I learned to put in one space. It wasn't even hard.
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltire
I'm a typographer, and I hate double spaces. The first thing I do when receiving any text from anyone is use a find/replace to get rid of them. Then I do the double returns, the spaces at the end of paragraphs (after the period), spaces or tabs at the beginning of paragraphs, and a lot of other bad-typing artifacts.
Amen. I have a Word macro set up to strip all that from the documents that come in. Two spaces just make me roll my eyes.

What boggles me is some of our clients demand two spaces. They're not even using monospace font; it's just The Way It's Done.
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:53 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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I'm a writer who recently purchased a newspaper. I can often tell the ages of writers by the formatting of the articles and letters they submit.

Back in the dark ages (I took typing in high school in 1974), we were taught to use two spaces. As soon as I got involved in publishing in the 80's, it was explained in no uncertain terms that two spaces are for office letters, not for typeset documents. Two spaces after a period are never used in books, magazines, or newspapers, and I believe every single style guide out there will agree on the subject. Certainly all of mine do.

It's a pretty quick macro I run on submissions: change (space+space) to (space), then change (paragraph+white space) to (paragraph), then change (paragraph+paragraph) to (paragraph), then change straight quotes to typesetter's quotes (both single ' and double "). Then I manually check to make sure there were no feet/inch references (you don't use curly quotes in 6'4").

Then, and only then, do I start editing.
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltire
Do you still use a tab to begin indented paragraphs?
What, what? How else . . .
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Cisco
What, what? How else . . .
You use the paragraph formatting panel.

What if you changed your mind about how you wanted paragraphs formatted? You going to go through and change all the tab marks? Or what if you need tabs for .... tabulation? Why have that pointless paragraph tab complicating things?
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:38 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
You use the paragraph formatting panel.

What if you changed your mind about how you wanted paragraphs formatted? You going to go through and change all the tab marks? Or what if you need tabs for .... tabulation? Why have that pointless paragraph tab complicating things?
On legal documents some bits are supposed to be indented and some aren't. I hate the auto-first-line-indent thingy.

To answer the OP, I was taught on a computer (an Archimedes with a WYSIWIG word-processing program, incidentally) to use two spaces.

Doesn't everyone full justify these days? It hardly matters.
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:57 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
On legal documents some bits are supposed to be indented and some aren't.
Unless I'm missing something, generally the only places in a legal document that would have this characteristic are the small parts at the beginning and the end of the document.

With indented paragraphs, you have to format them separately anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
Doesn't everyone full justify these days? It hardly matters.
That's a reason to leave out the double spacing. In some justifications styles, putting in an extra hard space can mess up the typesetting and you get "rivers" and other bad typographical artifacts.

Last edited by Acsenray; 04-18-2008 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:00 PM
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Personally, I always use paragraph styles, and many documents will have one style that's indented and another that isn't. It makes it so very easy to make changes later.

I will say that those that tab to indent are a thousand times less irritating that those that actually use 5 spaces. Gah.

Then again, I'm better at word processing in InDesign than I am in Word, so I'm a confirmed weirdo. But I still can't see why folks feel they are incapable of learning how to type differently. Anyone who learned to type once has shown the ability to learn such things, and they shouldn't have all that much trouble learning something new. Humans are reprogrammable, with a bit of effort.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:11 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by acsenray
Unless I'm missing something, generally the only places in a legal document that would have this characteristic are the small parts at the beginning and the end of the document.

With indented paragraphs, you have to format them separately anyway.
Depends on the document. Requests for production and suchlike tend to be largle blocks of text followed by line-by-line lists followed by more blocks of text followed by another list followed by a certificate of service.

Much, much easier just to tab when you need one. It's one extra keystroke per line or paragraph as opposed to a minute and a half of highlight > move indent marker, highlight > move indent marker, etc.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:17 PM
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I've been typing since I took a typing class in the 10th grade, so that's coming up on 25 years ago -- we learned on these big ol' IBM electric typewriters that could type in two (!) differnt fonts (if you changed the typeface ball-thingy). There were probably other fonts available but we only had two.

Anyway, there is no way I could re-train myself to use one space after a period. It's an involuntary muscle response now to type <period><space><space>.

Just another sign that I am getting old and out of touch.

Do they still put two spaces between the state abbreviation and ZIP code on a mailing address?*



*you see, before email, there was this thing called "mail" where you had to write or print your message out onto paper, which you then folded into an envelope and affixed a stamp to. A federal employee would then come to your house, pick up the envelope, and deliver it to the recipient -- anywhere in the country! And it usually took less than a week!
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:34 PM
Justin Credible Justin Credible is offline
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This is the first I've heard of this debate. I've always used double spaces after a sentence, and it strikes me as odd that anyone would do it differently. It just seems wrong to me. I guess I don't really notice it on here, but in a program like Microsoft word or on a hard copy paper, the sentences would run together too much I think.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:45 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Credible
I guess I don't really notice it on here, but in a program like Microsoft word or on a hard copy paper, the sentences would run together too much I think.
Look at any professionally typeset publication (meaning, pretty much anything in your library, any magazine, any newspaper). They are not double spaced after the period.

Style guides that advocate the single space after a period, colon, question mark, exclamation point: APA, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian Style, MLA, AP.

Style guides that advocate a double space after those punctuation marks: Can't find one.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:56 PM
Justin Credible Justin Credible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
Look at any professionally typeset publication (meaning, pretty much anything in your library, any magazine, any newspaper). They are not double spaced after the period.

Style guides that advocate the single space after a period, colon, question mark, exclamation point: APA, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian Style, MLA, AP.

Style guides that advocate a double space after those punctuation marks: Can't find one.
Weird. As recently as the late 90's, I was still being taught to double space at the end of a sentence. I guess it never came up in college, even thought I have used both APA and MLA and of course I always double spaced then as well.

Well, I don't care. I'm not going to change it now. It's others who are wrong.
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Old 04-18-2008, 04:04 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Credible
I guess I don't really notice it on here, but in a program like Microsoft word or on a hard copy paper, the sentences would run together too much I think.
It's very difficult to find anything professionally-prepared that has two spaces after periods. Every brochure, catalog, newspaper, flyer, poster, book, magazine, newsletter, and Web site uses only one space.

You may think you're seeing two spaces, but you aren't.
  #48  
Old 04-18-2008, 04:06 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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I am an old fogey. I went to high school in the 40's and my typing teacher told us to put 1 or 2 spaces after each sentence. She said it didn't really matter which we used since there were no rules for that. So, I have always used just 1 space.
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  #49  
Old 04-18-2008, 04:15 PM
RedSwinglineOne RedSwinglineOne is offline
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High school typing, 1986. Very specifically, one space after a comma, two after a period. Anything else was marked wrong.
  #50  
Old 04-18-2008, 04:52 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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When I was in highschool I was taught 2 spaces. I graduated in 79.
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