In true style of any admissions department we are constantly working together as a team on each and every current project. This morning I was working with my fellow employee Caitlin Stillwell on a simple letter to confirm prospective Saint Rose class of 2016 students overnight visits. Insert plug now: Overnights are a great way to get a real feel for campus life at any school, I highly suggest taking advantage of this opportunity, to sign up for an overnight click here now!
Now back to the point, I said these exact words to Caitlin, “What are all of these extra spaces? Get those out of there.” She looked at me like I had nine heads saying “What do you mean, it’s two spaces?”
I’m now extremely confused and state “Yeah, exactly, two spaces there’s only supposed to be one.” By the look on her face I knew that something was up and without further hesitation I ran across the hall to another coworkers office and practically yelled “Justin, when you’re writing a paper or a letter how many spaces do you put between sentences?” He looked up and simply said “Two.”
Whoa whoa whoa! Am I crazy? I have NEVER heard of this. I was a communications student with a minor in English meaning I was constantly writing papers or articles for The Chronicle. How, in the twenty three years of my existence have I not heard of this? How could no one have ever told me about this? Feeling extremely left out and beginning to question everything I was ever taught in middle school, I proceeded to run to every office in my building (yes that means up and down three very steep flights of stairs) to figure out what everyone else does in this situation.
Here’s the data:
Of the 13 people I asked 6 have heard of it but don’t use it, 5 use it, and 2 (myself included) have never heard of such a thing.
I have since looked it up and have come to various conclusions. The biggest conclusion is that it is generational, but this does not hold true with my data because the 5 who use it vary in age. I understand that this goes back to the use of type writers.
A Wikipedia article on “Sentence Spacing” states that “With the introduction of proportional fonts in computers, double sentence spacing became obsolete according to many experts.”
Other articles I read discuss that this is a matter of style. Grammer Girl says, “Although how many spaces you use is ultimately a style choice, using one space is by far the most widely accepted and logical style. The Chicago Manual of Style (1), the AP Stylebook (2), and the Modern Language Association (3) all recommend using one space after a period at the end of a sentence.”
So maybe i’m not crazy?
Wanting to know a little bit more I reached out to Dr. Kim Middleton, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department here at The College of Saint Rose.
And this is what she said:
“It’s funny, a friend of mine who worked as a copy editor at Random House for a number of years just posted on this topic on her Facebook page. She suggested that it should be everyone’s New Year’s Resolution: never ever use two spaces after a period. Whoa. Hardcore.”
Dr. Middleton agreed with what we said above about this whole debate stemming back from the use of typewriters and guess what she uses two spaces in between her sentences! Nonetheless she had some pretty witty commentary to add to this matter.
“My excuse, which I’m now going to assert as universal, is that it is directly attributable to generation and habit. In the midsts of yesteryear, there were these enormous clunky machines called ‘typewriters,’ to which they would chain unsuspecting middle school students for classes on ‘touchtyping.’ [Picture it: an entire classroom of IBM selectrics, each with a piece of paper taped over the keyboard. The expectation was that you’d slide your hands under the paper and learn to type without looking at the keys. American public school at its very best!] Anyway, in the typing drills of my youth, the expectation was that you’d place two spaces after the period to signal a new sentence.”
Lastly Dr. Middleton stated, “My conscious brain knows that I’m adding extra, unnecessary spaces, but my fingers haven’t gotten over their training from seventh grade.”
See now that’s what i’m talking about “unnecessary spaces”!
Ok, ok, ok so I get it but I am just wondering, am I the only one who never knew? There has to be others out there like me…come on…somebody…anybody?