Sunday, January 21, 2018

Two Space Or Not Two Space

In researching for this piece, I've discovered that there's a controversy in the writing world I never knew existed - whether or not to put two spaces between sentences.  Feelings run unexpectedly high on the issue, from some folks saying absolutely not to do it, to others who say that it's steeped in rich grammatical history.  Some have gone so far as to say that it's a sign of being old(or at least over 40) if you use two spaces after a sentence.  What began as a quirky little post became a journey into a surprisingly passionate subject that pit nerd against nerd, and grammarian against grammarian.

I learned, eons ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, to use two spaces at the end of each sentence(or a semicolon).  It became so ingrained in me, and I've been doing it for so long, that it's as natural now as breathing.  In fact, I have to make a deliberate effort to only use one space, and I've found that effort so disrupting to the flow of my work that I stopped worrying about it.  But why did that rule ever come about?

Apparently it was all a result of our use of typewriters.  In the olden days, before computers, typewriters all used the same font and spacing.  The letter "l" used the same amount of spacing as the letter "w."  In order to create separation between sentence and provide for better flow, what I call the "rule of two" came into being.  And it was used for a long time.  It became standard practice in both classrooms and media offices.  School after school that taught typewriting - which was nearly every high school in existence prior to 1995 - drilled the rule of two into everyone's head.  This made it a natural reaction.

However, when computers came along, it became moot.  Office programs made it so that the spacing now no longer relied on manual typesetting, so one space was plenty good enough to see the difference between sentences.  Typesetters even began discouraging two spaces after a sentence as it created extra work for them.  This has not been enough to overcome some of the (older) inertia.

I use two spaces.  I probably always will.  I independently publish, and I still think that two spaces provides a good break between independent thoughts, but I'm not opposed to those who use one space.  But bring that up in a group of writers under the age of 30 and you might as well have set a sack of puppies on fire.  Talk about angst - sheesh!

So where do you fall, and why?  Are you a two-spacer?  Or do you believe it's one space, and all two-spacers are secret members of a Satanic cult?

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