By Lin Parkin
September 4, 2012
The great debate lives on...should you hit the space bar twice after a sentence ending period?
There are strong views on the topic, that's for sure!
Given that you read copy all day long, we're curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Tell us what you think in today's Vox Daily.
One of my favourite pastimes is writing and editing for friends, family and various publications. While editing an article one day, in a fleeting moment, I updated my Facebook status with what would bring on a rather heated debate.
"Be gone double space, be gone!"
What ensued was a thread of strong opinions on whether or not one should use a double space after punctuation marks.
Here's my take.
Before there was a computer in every classroom, we were taught to type on typewriters and instructed to double space after sentence ending periods. Most teachers taught students to apply this rule to all punctuation marks. The practice was in place because typewriters use monospace letters, meaning each character was the same width. Since monospace letters are more difficult to read, the natural practice was to add an extra space after punctuation marks.
By the end of the 1980s computers replaced typewriters in most schools and businesses. Computers come with word processors which commonly use proportional letters. Proportional letters make it easier to read sentence structures, rendering the practice of double spacing unnecessary.
If you stop and examine newspapers, magazines, journals, and books you'll notice that they all use a single space after punctuation marks.
Publishing programs for the web automatically assume double spacing after a punctuation mark is an error and the system eradicates the extra space before it goes live on the web. This may be part of what drives the notion that using double spaces are not just old fashioned but wrong.
My search for an authority on the subject lead me to The Modern Language Association (MLA) which recommends double spacing throughout the text but leaving just one space after punctuation marks. The Chicago Style and both the Canadian and American Press Stylebooks recommend the same.
So my conclusion is that while double spacing at the end of a sentence may feel comfortable to a traditionalist's eye, leaving it in will do little more than appear as though you've made a typo.
As voice actors you spend all day reading scripts. Many of you are also skilled copywriters and bloggers.
Does the editor in you yearn to delete those double spaces? Or does it make it easier for you to read the script?
Add your two cents below.
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