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Old 09-02-2013, 07:46 AM   #1
James_Wilde
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How many spaces after a full stop/colon?

I learned to type on a typewriter, and learned that one puts two spaces after a full stop (period for the US) and after a colon. I still use this - it's ingrained - and I get a lot of stick from my son, who had grown up in the computer age, and maintains that these extra spaces can cause problems - what problems he didn't say.

So, how many people still put two spaces after a full stop and colon? (Question marks, exclamation marks etc count as full stops for this purpose of course.)
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:59 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by James_Wilde View Post
I learned to type on a typewriter, and learned that one puts two spaces after a full stop (period for the US) and after a colon. I still use this - it's ingrained - and I get a lot of stick from my son, who had grown up in the computer age, and maintains that these extra spaces can cause problems - what problems he didn't say.

So, how many people still put two spaces after a full stop and colon? (Question marks, exclamation marks etc count as full stops for this purpose of course.)
There were a number of kluges used on typewriters that should be avoided today, including the double-space after a period (double stop) or similar. Typewriters were, with the exception of a few rare typesetting variants, monospaced. With monospaced text the double-space makes sense. With modern typing systems (read: electronic) text is proportionally spaced and the double-space at the end of a sentence should be avoided.

The other kluge from the ancient typewriter days that is still too often seen is underlining text that should be in italics. Again, this was done on typewriters to work around their lack of italics and should never be used on systems that have italics.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:01 AM   #3
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Two after a full stop, one after a colon. I believe I too was originally taught to use two after a colon, but it seems somehow redundant to use more than one, so that's what I do.

I've used computers for as long as personal computers have existed and have never, ever had the use of two spaces cause a problem, never heard of it causing a problem, nor can I see how it might cause a problem. Of course, if you carry that two-spaces-after-every-full-stop habit with you over into programming....
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:05 AM   #4
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One.

lf you must, you can make it a larger space, see any text on typography for the details.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:29 AM   #5
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Several authorities wrote one space after a full stop is correct these days but it still feels wrong. My two spaces get there by pure muscle memory! Changes like this are just not fair!
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:44 AM   #6
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There are lots of heated arguments on the 'net, with various people arguing that it's a hang-over from fixed-width fonts on typewriters - but extra spacing after the full stop has a much longer history than that. (I had a really good link somewhere that went into some of the history in detail, if I find it again I'll post it.) The typewriter aspect came about only because two spaces were the only way to simulate the traditional larger space.

BUT, whatever the history, there are issues with double-spaces now. Firstly, ebooks are all HTML anyway, so your extra space is ignored. (So in this case it doesn't matter whether you have them or not.) But, more significantly, when producing print editions, and since we no longer do the typesetting manually, if you combine double-spacing after the full stop with full justification the effect is often not pretty (in my experiments anyway - obviously the end result is dependent also on things like your hyphenation settings).

I still write using two spaces after the full stop - it's just sort of built in, and most of the time I prefer my text that way, so I haven't bothered to try and change my habits. BUT when preparing to publish I do a change-all to remove them. (Because all my text uses styles with no extra spacing anywhere, I find that I can just do a change-all from (two spaces) to (one space) repeatedly until none are found - which is neat because it picks up all those accidental ones as well.)

Last edited by gmw; 09-02-2013 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:49 AM   #7
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We were taught to use two spaces on the old mechanical typewriters. They used monospaced characters –every character occupied the same amount of space. You may recall how disjointed a document looked when created with them, you needed two spaces at the end of a sentence for your eye to find the separation. Today's computerized fonts are different –proportional spaced characters. No need to for two spaces.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:55 PM   #8
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I learned with two and I still use two. I must admit that it still irks me slightly to see my blog change it to one. And it makes everything look crowded and poorly formatted to me. I'm using two spaces in this post, and it will be changed to one when I submit it.-)

rjb
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:12 PM   #9
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Put as many as you want. It's HTML, so the extra ones will be ignored.
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Old 09-02-2013, 03:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwig View Post
There were a number of kluges used on typewriters that should be avoided today, including the double-space after a period (double stop) or similar.
What about the seven- character elipsis?

I actually had a prof who would auto-fail a paper if you tried using a three-period elipsis, or a one- character one. Course he was a Modernist jerk, but he was also the one guy in the department who gave scantron tests.
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:08 PM   #11
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What's a "scantron test"?
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:33 PM   #12
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I assume it is that brand of paper test form, where you darken an oval to indicate your multiple choice and can be graded automatically.

Reminds me a physics instructor who thought we were all too dependent on calculators. So we endured the first semester of physics using longhand calculations. Dumbest approach I can recall from my school days. As if in the professional world we would not have calculators. It added nothing, sort of like me adding two spaces after periods here when...
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:58 PM   #13
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I too was taught double space after a full stop, but I "rewired" my brain to switch to single space a while back. Not easy when it's been ingrained for so many years.
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Penforhire View Post
Several authorities wrote one space after a full stop is correct these days but it still feels wrong. My two spaces get there by pure muscle memory! Changes like this are just not fair!
I also do two spaces by pure muscle memory, but my word processor automatically corrects it. I didn't even realize it was doing it until one day I was editing a paper and going to eliminate the extra spaces after the period and they weren't there!

Last edited by spellbanisher; 09-02-2013 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:14 PM   #15
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What's a "scantron test"?
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