A few weeks back, my niece out in California forwarded an article to her mother and me that appeared in CNN Business. It’s wrong to use two spaces between sentences, Microsoft Word says. Beth had noticed that Jeanne and I both still use two spaces at the end of sentences and although she figured it wouldn’t sway us to revise our ways, she thought we would find the article interesting.
Microsoft may have made the decree in 2020 that two spaces between sentences is too many, but in my family this debate has been alive and well for many years. In 2001, our youngest son, Adam, was in high school and his oldest brother was editor of the Ball State Daily News at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Adam asked his older, editor brother Emmet to look over a paper he had written before he turned it in to his English teacher. Emmet took Adam to task for having two spaces at the end of each sentence pointing out that the paper was typed on a computer, not Mom’s old typewriter, so Adam changed the spacing. Sadly, his teacher disagreed. Adam’s explanation that “…my brother Emmet said…” didn’t do him any good. “Emmet doesn’t know everything and he’s not teaching this class. Use two spaces.” This was obviously before it was universally known that Emmet knows everything.
I have had it pointed out to me by the younger generation that two spaces are passé, but I have been putting two spaces at the end of sentences for nearly 50 years and I doubt I’m going to change. In discussing with my sister and niece, my sister remembered reading somewhere that two spaces allow for thinking. A short pause, like taking a breath. So while newspapers, magazines and other publications may look at each extra space as wasted money, I look at it as the punctuation traffic signal that gives me time to absorb and reflect.
Being in quarantine week after week has also allowed me extra time for thinking. I have thought about that as much as I love to read, I have had a hard time concentrating on anything too complex. And in my stream of consciousness thinking, I thought about when I was in middle school and the gracious Jones girls next door had a subscription to American Girl Magazine that they were always willing to share. That magazine had nothing to do with American Girl dolls but was a girl scout magazine written for young girls and teens and included fashion articles, hairstyling advice and serial stories. I loved those stories! I would eagerly wait for the next month’s edition so I could devour the next installment.
And so in the ninth week of quarantine, I decided to write my own serial story. On Sunday, you can meet Libby and read the first installment of her story, A Mother’s Gift.
C’est la vie.
It makes you wonder how the powers to be in Microsoft come to these conclusions and better yet where do these ideas come from? Nowadays I don’t think it matters how a sentence is made. Some can’t even spell any more thanks to google and spell check! But that’s another story.
Hi, Sheryl! I know the two-space convention is a holdover from the days of typewriters. And I’m married to a printer so I know that every unnecessary blank space on a page is an additional cost. Despite all that, I’m sticking with my two spaces. I need all the thinking breaks I can get!
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