WRITING PET PEEVE #1 - TWO SPACES AFTER A PERIOD, PLEASE!
Quick, what's the difference between these two passages?
1. Today I ate pineapple. It was delicious. It's my favorite fruit.
2. Today I ate pineapple. It was delicious. It's my favorite fruit.
The only difference between the two sentences is one tiny space after the periods. And to me, that little space creates a pleasant reading experience — or one that drives me nuts!
Starting as a star grammar student, then while composing A+ papers as an English Literature Major at the University of Michigan, earning a master's degree from The Journalism School at Columbia University, and embarking on a career as a journalist and author of nearly 20 books, I have always followed my teachers' law of perfect punctuation:
PUT TWO SPACES AFTER A PERIOD!
That means after every sentence, there's a nice little white space separating the period from the next capitol letter that starts a new sentence. Failure to insert two spaces results in crowding your words on the page, scrunching them together as if you bunched up the piece of paper and all the words were crumpled on top of each other.
I don't want to read that. It's so irritating. It's like someone is talking too fast and I have to concentrate really hard to decipher the barrage of syllables hitting my ears.
Just like a pause between bites of delicious food enables you to savor the flavor — as opposed to gulping it down too fast to taste — so too do two spaces between sentences allow your reader to digest the idea presented in each sentence, and the artful way that you carefully selected words to express that idea.
On a more hilarious note, Blogger Jennifer Gonzalez wrote in an August 12, 2014 post that "Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period!"
Call me old school, but she's right. I don't care. I learned the two-space rule in first grade, and I'm sticking with it.
Catherine and I — while only one year apart in age — disagree about the one-space, two-space rule. We had a spirited discussion recently after she emailed me the most recent chapter that she had completed for one of the books we're writing. One puny space followed every sentence.
"It looks terrible!" I exclaimed.
"Elizabeth, nobody cares!" she said. "Every time I look it up online, it says the days of two spaces after a period are history. That was all about typewriters, and computers have made that rule obsolete."
She was adamant. So was I — as I proceeded to add a second space between every sentence in that chapter.
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