Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I’m outraged!

I’m outraged! Outraged, I tell you. Is nothing sacred?

I got a set of documents back from an editor the other day, which in itself is usually enough to twist my knickers. (I’m not so fond of being edited. I don’t mind it when they catch actual mistakes, but I tend to bristle over suggestions of a stylistic nature. I suppose I should work on that should I ever want to actually get anything professionally published.)

Aside from the usual complaints about formatting and a couple of typos, I came across a note saying that I had too many spaces after each period and that the new standard is only one space after a full stop or other final punctuation mark.


Only one space after a period? Bah! One space after a comma or semi-colon, two spaces after a period, exclamation point, question mark or colon. If nothing else, I know that rule is sacred. It’s in the Bible, I think. It was certainly drilled into my head over an old Underwood manual typewriter in Grade 9 typing class.

So I hopped on the trusty Interwebs to gather evidence to support my cause… and to my great dismay, found out my editor was (gasp!) correct. I googled ‘how many spaces after a period' and found at least four pages of entries discussing the subject. How could I have possibly missed this debate before now?

Apparently, now that we have proportional fonts - thanks to online word processing - the old practice of indicating the end of a phrase with a double space is now rendered unnecessarily redundant. Even my most trustworthy Canadian Press Style Guide advocates only one space after a period. It’s a whole new world. I’ve never felt more obsolete.

I politely told the editor that after 25 years (ack!) of ten-fingered typing, it would take a lot more than a simple rule change to disabuse me of the satisfying double-thumb-thwack on the space bar at the end of a sentence, and that if she valued consistency, she would accept my two-spaced full stops. She took a long look at me, perhaps evaluating the extra white showing around the irises of my eyes and the little vein throbbing under my ear, and nodded silently.

There are some things that are simply sacred. I’m learning to deal with prepositions at the end of a sentence or split infinitives. I can live with or without a serial comma. But this is my line in the sand: I will never relent to a single space at the end of a sentence. Never!