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One of my best friends, Kim Whitten, is a lurker here. Since I am HORRIBLE about proofing my own work*, I always ask her to tell me if she finds any errors. Recently she pointed out that I use two spaces after periods, which was old “typewriter thinking” and if I didn’t want to show my age, I should stop that. This was the first I had heard of this, so immediately I assumed that this was a product of Twitter and Texting, where you have limited characters. Surely formal writing should still observe the two space rule I’d learned in school? Nay-nay!
Kim sent me to the Cult of Pedagogy website where I read a couple of articles on the subject (here and here) along with a sometimes heated comment argument thread. Apparently this has ALWAYS been wrong. It’s a product of the manual typewriter era, when the original typewriters produced documents in a monospace font style without proper kerning for the skinny letters like “i” and “l”.
I went to my favorite snide grammar guide, “The Oatmeal“, but he let me down on this one. A little more looking took me to Slate. It would appear that those in the single space camp are quite the Nazis about it too, as illustrated by this quote in an article from Slate: “Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Ilene Strizver, who runs a typographic consulting firm The Type Studio, once wrote. “When I see two spaces I shake my head and I go, Aye yay yay. I talk about ‘type crimes’ often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment. It’s a pure sign of amateur typography.” Hmmmmm… If Ilene ruled the world, I would be serving multiple life sentences by now.
I’m not sure why I chose to take typing in high school, other than the fact that I didn’t like study halls and it fit my schedule. Whatever the reason, I will be forever glad that I did. I make a point of recommending typing class to any kids that I might influence. I think it’s unfortunate that typing is falling out of vogue due to the use of texting on phones and the hunt-and-peck writing used by most tablets. (I’ve ranted about that in the past.) I still think it is one of the most useful tools that I learned in high school. It is a skill that I use daily. And for that reason, changing from two spaces to one is going to really slow me down… There will be a lot of backspacing to remove that extra space. The double strike of the space bar by my thumb at the end of a sentence is just too ingrained.
Far be it from me to want to appear old-fashioned and outdated. I will do my best to lose the double space… going forward. It is definitely not worth it to me to go back and “correct” things I’ve written in the past. The thought that I could be judged negatively on this is somewhat mind-blowing, but stranger things have happened in our politically correct world. I don’t want to be doing hard time if Ms Strizver or some other typesetter becomes emperor of the world!
“Stop doing this!” image borrowed from Cult of Pedagoy
“ing.” image borrowed from Slate
* Somehow my brain seems to go into autocorrect mode when I read something I’ve written. I know what I meant to say, and I gloss over my errors as if they weren’t there. Conversely, when reading someone else’s work, if I run across one spelling or punctuation error, I immediately and irretrievably slip into proof-reading mode. I am picking up on every mistake along the way while struggling to get back to reading the content.
PS – And just for fun, I left one double space after a sentence in this article so the anal among my lurkers have something to do…
So… Culver Elementary School sends their smoking staff across the street to use our curb in front of our office as a smoking lounge since they have a non-smoking campus. Miller’s Merry Manor on the north side of town is a non-smoking campus… so they’re sending the smoking construction workers (Not Ours!) across the street to smoke on the Culver High School non-smoking campus. Can’t you just hear Elton John singing, “It’s the circle of life…” Of course that might not be the appropriate reference since we’re talking cancer sticks here, but you get the drift…
Image borrowed from Shed Simove