Saturday, January 3, 2015

Does the Space Make a Difference?

I have always believed that punctuation makes a difference and has significance. But a difference I hadn’t thought about until fairly recently was whether to leave one or two spaces after a period. I grew up learning, in my high school typing class and elsewhere, to leave two spaces, and I never questioned that. It became absolutely automatic for me. But more and more I have realized that now the standard is one space. The point that jolted me was in a recent article about job applications that stated that for older applicants, leaving two spaces after periods can be a signal of their age, and by proxy, a sort of sign of being outdated or behind the times. I am fortunate not to have to apply for jobs, but I still don’t want to be thought of as behind the times! So I have been trying to remember this, and now I often go back through something I have written to delete one of the two spaces. I actually had to do it for this very blogpost. Such a small matter to be fraught with such possible significance!


  1. Hi, Stephanie. I think I may have had typing class from the same teacher (Mrs Krause? in that cold room below the KS library?) and also learned that two spaces should come after a period.

    My present thought is that the concept of "spaces", whether one or two, is less well-defined than formerly. The word processor I usually use (LaTeX) in effect makes its own decisions about spacing, and typically does indeed leave somewhat larger spaces after periods than between words. This feature is convenient, but it sometimes outsmarts itself with abbreviation periods, as in Mrs. Krause or Mr. Watson.

    1. Paul, yes, I think we DID have the same typing class in Kodai, or one very like it! I can't remember the teacher's name (I don't remember its being Mrs. Krause, but I could be wrong), but I do remember that room. Of course back then we learned on actual typewriters....Thanks for your good point re the blurring of the amount of space after periods (and in general), with various electronics making the decision for us, and not necessarily exactly one or two but perhaps spaces but perhaps something in between.


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