To space or not two space?

But I must put one more space! No! No, you mustn’t!

Ask this at your dinner table tonight. How many spaces do you put after a period? After a question mark?

I put two. Guess how many I’m supposed to put? One. One after this period. One after these exclamation points!!!!! Know what I learned in high school in my typing class? Two. Thanks public education.

Why are there still two-spacers in a one-spacers world?

According to this article in Slate by Farhad Manjoo, it’s because the old two-spacing ways are still being taught out of habit. Two spaces were used for typewriters because the characters each took up equal amount of space. So a skinny ‘i’ had the same cozy space that a fat ‘W’ fit in. It makes the text look ‘loose’ and for the eye to follow to the next sentence it was best to give two spaces after the period to give enough definition to the sentence. The white space signalling, “Hey, the sentence is over buddy! Get ready for the next one!” Though I thought that was what the period was for in the first place. Computers use proportional typesetting so the skinny ‘i’ only takes up a small space and the fat ‘W’ takes up more space. Now we only need a small bit of white space to signify the end of the sentence. Again, which is what I thought the period was for in the first place.

And while we’re at it, why capitalize the word at the beginning of a sentence? To signify the beginning of a new sentence? Didn’t that question mark just signify the end of the last sentence and therefore the next word will begin a new sentence? Grammarians, please educate me.

And back to my education. 15. When I became a two-spacer. Now I’m trying to convert and it’s driving me batty (thanks a lot Farhad). And how much of my life has been wasted with all those extra spaces?

Let’s see, typing since I was 15…22 years now with an average of 5 pages per day, average sentence length of 20 words per sentence, 500 words per page each space represents a letter and there are on average 5 letters per word and I type an average of 45 words a minute (mock not my slow fingers!)…carry the 3…

Holy cow! I have wasted 1,003,750 spaces for a total of 200,750 words meaning I’ve spent 75 hours, or over 3 days typing extra spaces. Oh, what could I have done with those 3 days? Oh how misspent my youth. How misspent.


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