Keyboard evolution

So I’m teaching a basic business writing class last night, and someone asked about whether or not they should double-space after periods and colons. I said that that had been the rule at one time, but as a practice it was pretty much dying out. Like most things having to do with the dos and don’ts of writing, this is something I know to be true, but I’m more than a little fuzzy on the why.

They (of course) asked why.

And I heard my mouth say:

  • Much of it comes from graphic designers who think that the big white space after a sentence is ugly, especially now that few people use mono-spaced fonts  like courier. Those double spaces really stand out in true-type/proportional fonts.
  • But even if that weren’t the case, there is no point in wasting time with double-spacing after periods today, because most anything you write will end up on a website somewhere, and web browsers never show more than one space after the period, anyway. (Even if you do it, no one will see it, so it’s wasted effort.)

After my mouth was done talking, my brain was left wondering “Is that right? That actually sounds right.” (My brain is justifiably suspicious of my mouth.)

Turns out, it pretty much was. It’s fascinating to me, the way in which our environment (-cum-technology) visibly and continually redefines “normal” in writing/communication.

(And I’d like to thank Twitter for helping my unlearn a two-decades-old double-spacing habit.)

5 Replies to “Keyboard evolution”

  1. First point is correct. Comes out of the mouth of the GD’s I work with all the time.

    It’s part of the AP style book which most news and online sources follow.

    While there may be no point…it’s ingrained into my frikkin typing…I’m having a hard breaking and most word processors I work with PUT THE DAMN SPACE IN THERE AUTOMATICALLY. And I can’t figure out how to change so it takes out my extra space for me.


    And as a web designer…that’s not totally true. Many of the CMS out there will continue throw in code to show the extra spaces. Why do I know this? Cause I’m dinged on this all the time when I submit articles online. All. The. Time.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Get Rich Quick vs. Following the Dream =-.

  2. I will double-space after periods until the day I die, whether it comes through on the Web or not, whether designers think it’s ugly or not, and whether my writing ever leaves my own hard drive or not. Hmph!

  3. I am in love with double spaces and I will never divorce them. I don’t think I could get my thumb to stop hitting the keyboard twice anyways.

Comments are closed.