Friday, December 19, 2014

Spaces after a period.

It has come to my attention, through multiple writers and editors on social media, that typing two spaces after a period is the most heinous evil a writer can commit.  Worse than bad character development.  Worse than clich├ęd plot twists.  Worse than a poorly written sex scene!  Worse than (*fake audience gasp*) soap opera dialogue!  Worse than, comma splices!  Worse than MURDERING PUPPIES!  Worse than internet shorthand in narration omg!!!11

Apparently the devil himself has a grand plot to annoy editors the world over by tempting aspiring writers to strike the space key twice after a sentence ends, therefore all writers who obey the devil's wishes should be blacklisted from all publications for eternity and cursed to the fires of hell with the editor's dying breath!

...

Why does this pet peeve rouse so much emotion?  Hell, the example of Standard Manuscript Format I follow uses two spaces after every sentence-ending punctuation!  It mentions the convention at the end, noting: "if you're used to hitting the spacebar twice after a period, you shouldn't stress out about it, particularly if you're using a Courier font."

Yeah, Google's top hit for "Standard Manuscript Format" tells writers "no big deal."

I had no idea there were people out there who would reject a manuscript or even dismiss a writer at a glance because he or she did such a trivial thing.  I never knew some people out there cared so much about it.  All my manuscripts have used two spaces.  It's how I was taught to type, and nobody has ever told me I need to change this.

Personally, I like two spaces separating sentences because it differentiates sentence breaks from commas.  I don't mind if there's only one space between sentences, but two spaces just looks nicer to me, as the text isn't all bunched up and crammed together.

If you're an editor, and you make such a big deal about this issue, I don't think I'd want to work with you as an editor.  If you have a problem with two spaces after a period, please specify it in the formatting requirements of whatever publication you're working on.  Don't assume writers know your pet peeve, and don't assume Standard Manuscript Formatting dictates the 1-space rule.  Remember, Google's top hit on the subject does not.

We authors are subject to enough whims of editors who are the gatekeepers to our future.  The number of spaces after a period shouldn't be one more invisible hurdle authors have to jump to get anywhere in the world.

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