Sunday, July 31, 2005

Spaces between Sentences: One or Two?

I have an old (old? Hey, I'm not old!) habit of typing two spaces between each sentence. I was taught this when I first learned how to type. I started using a word processor in the 1980s during high school, as my father had an office at our home. Even on the word processor, I typed the two spaces between sentences, like the good rule follower I am.

In Microsoft Word, I have my spelling/grammar check set on making sure I have those two spaces between sentences in order to maintain consistency in my writing. The fact that there is an option to watch for these two spaces says to me that this is an accepted writing convention.

In the School of Education at Large Midwestern University (LMU), we use the writing style as determined by the American Psychological Association (APA). Apparently they instruct that one is to put only one space between sentences. I'm trying to do that in this paragraph, and it's driving me nuts. Everything runs together, and one cannot tell the difference between a sentence and an abbreviation. Somebody stop me!

Ah, back to two spaces again. Two colleagues and I have friendly arguments on this point. One believes that Word automatically enters in an extra space between sentences, so there is no need. Not true, says I. The other tells me the LMU won't accept my dissertation with two spaces between sentences; he thinks I should break my "bad habit." Bad habit? Excrement, says I! I've come this far, successfully! APA is not the only style LMU uses for dissertations; surely there are others that require the two spaces. I know of some LMU graduates who submitted dissertations with two spaces between sentences, and they now successfully wear "Ph.D." after their last names.

Any thoughts on this silly little issue, O Fellow Bloggers who employ proper grammar and punctuation?

9 comments:

John B. said...

Unless I am misunderstanding something, I have never heard of two spaces between sentences. Most spacing I ever heard of was 'double spacing'...basically one full blank line (that would be a sentence) between sentences.

MY advice to you...don't fight the system, space it the way they want it. Save the arguments for your content.

lemming said...

I've had students do this over the years and figured that as long as they made correct use of the apostrophe, I wouldn't worry too much about spacing.

Hugh said...

I think that two spaces is a relic of manual typewriters. In fact, this Scots guy talks about this very thing. The only words I understand are "line" and "Scotsman".

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=112

TeacherRefPoet said...

I'm with you. Two spaces between sentences, even if word-processed. It provides a nice, friendly, easy transition for the eyes.

But then, it's not my degree on the line...

Rob said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Trust me, I'd never REALLY defy the Dissertation Clerk. Guess I need to set the grammar check in Word to check for a single space between sentences. I'm not sure, however, if I'm going to change my ways in this blog or not. I've tried it in this comment...had to backspace several times. Oh well.

Thanks again for the feedback, everyone.

Anonymous said...

It looks better when you're typing, but they don't want it in dissertations because if they have to publish it, they will have to remove the extra space. In publishing, it's always only one space between sentences.

Anonymous said...

It might be driving you nuts, but the browser will only ever display one space between words, regardless of how many the HTML etc has.

One it is!

PS. I'm a two man too.

Anonymous said...

Now APA updated 6th edition calls for two spaces.

Rob said...

Yes it sure does. And now almost five years after I wrote this post, I have long since dropped the two-space habit and went back to just one. Seems pretty trivial to me now, as do many of the APA 6th edition changes, but I'll change my damn spell-checker BACK to two spaces again.