Saturday, January 15, 2011

Anal Retentive Ramblings: Using Two Spaces Between Sentences

I was sitting in bed hungover on this fine Saturday morning, perusing reddit's top links, when I came across an interesting article over at Slate. Technology columnist Farhad Manjoo's "Space Invaders" is a great tirade against the use of two spaces between sentences. Considering that I'm not a typographer it's kind of a strange thing to get frustrated by, granted, but the practice has always irked me. I can't tell you how many papers I've edited where the bulk of my effort has been dedicated to deleting fucking extra spaces. It is beyond relieving to find that I'm not alone in my frustration, and furthermore to be vindicated in my writing habits.

Manjoo gives an excellent breakdown of where the mistake came from, how it continues to be propagated, and why it's just plain wrong. Unsurprisingly it's of the same origin as the QWERTY curse, namely sloppy answers to the physical problems with early typewriters. This video from Daily Cup of Tech gives a decent breakdown on the historical details:

The point is that using two spaces between sentences is wrong. It's an obsolete solution to a problem we no longer have and yet people persist with it under the misconception that doing so is proper writing technique. It isn't, so stop. End of discussion.

Now if I can just find a good article that justifies the oxford comma...

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