Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Spacing after periods

Nice post about the one-space-or-two controversy over at Book View Cafe! Deborah Ross takes the words right out of my mouth:

You have got to be kidding me, right? Of all the things you could worry about in writing — characters, plot, theme and metatheme, moral center, rising and falling tension, use of language, etc. — you’re obsessed with this?

YES TO THIS.

Good God above, hasn’t everyone realized by now that you can do a find and replace to change all the . space space to . space, if that makes you happy? That your editor or any copy editor can do this in less time than it takes to type this sentence? (This is exactly the point Deborah is making, too.)

I can’t imagine anybody wasting time worrying about this. If your fingers, like mine, are trained to hit the space bar twice after a period, fine. It is ridiculous to spend time trying to retrain your typing reflexes. If you need, for some reason such as ebook formatting, to switch from one style to the other, do it at the end. If you send a manuscript to an editor and they don’t like your formatting (or font, or whatever), I am pretty sure every editor in the universe knows how to fiddle with your manuscript to make it match her personal preferences.

The things people worry about, honestly.

Okay, rant over.

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4 Comments Spacing after periods

  1. Brandy

    I agree that it is silly for us debate this like it is of actual importance to most people’s everyday lives. BUT I did have a friend who recently went to grad school a couple years ago and was told by all her professors two spaces were unacceptable and papers would be handed back ungraded if that spacing was used so she did have to retrain herself and it was really hard. I’ve pretty much retrained myself just in case.

  2. Rachel

    Well, for me, decades of two-spaces mean I’m not switching. What I personally would do is: under the title of the paper, in red, I would type: ONE SPACE. Then I would remember to switch the formatting after the paper was finished. I would also add other notes to myself about stuff I tend to forget or that the professor had a specific weird obsessions about. We have one teacher here who wants papers turned in single spaced! Single spaced! I can’t imagine reading a bunch of single-spaced student papers, but I can’t even begin to tolerate reading on the screen that way anymore, so I would type double spaced and switch before I handed the papers in.

    I had one student who added notes to herself about checking for comma spices, too. For many beginning writing students in English Comp I, the last thing to do is CHECK TRANSITIONS, but by the time you are in grad school, hopefully transitions just flow out of your fingers between paragraphs without your having to think about them.

  3. Brandy

    Someone requires single spaced papers???? That’s INSANE. Never mind how hard they are to read, they’re hard to grade that way. Where do you write? There’s only so much space in the margins.

  4. Rachel

    Brandy, that was exactly my response. I asked the student multiple times “Are you SURE?” She showed me the instructor’s guidelines. He’s very clear. He won’t even accept double-spaced papers. Unbelievable, I know.

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