?

Log in

No account? Create an account
How many spaces after a period at the end of a sentence? - Input Junkie
February 5th, 2014
05:30 pm

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
How many spaces after a period at the end of a sentence?
One space!

Two spaces!

I was taught to use two spaces after a period (let's take "a period at the end of a sentence" as implied for this discussion) when I learned to type on an electric typewriter, but nobody seemed to care very much or enforce the rule. I used one space because two seemed unnecessary.

I also independently invented the European style of eating meat-- fork in left hand, knife in right, and use the fork to transfer the meat to my mouth. My father didn't like it, but he wasn't a very forceful person, so that's how I keep eating. I find it impossible to empathize with people caring strongly about such things, and I wonder if I'm a little bit on the autism spectrum.

And I was feeling neutral with a mild preference about the spaces after a period issue, especially after reading that very bad-tempered first link. However, I've been reading a facebook discussion where at least a couple of people said having two spaces after a period really does help them read, so let's have a poll.

Poll #1955426 Two spaces after a period

Do you notice whether there are one or two spaces after a period?

Yes
32(42.1%)
Only if I'm editing
26(34.2%)
No
18(23.7%)

Do you have a preference, and how strong is it?

Strong preference for two spaces
13(17.3%)
Mild preference for two spaces
22(29.3%)
I don't care
6(8.0%)
I don't care! I don't care! I don't care!
3(4.0%)
Mild preference for one space
15(20.0%)
Strong preference for one space
16(21.3%)

Addenda

I just want to see the results
36(90.0%)
I wish to complain about this poll
4(10.0%)

(36 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:whswhs
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
(Link)
As chorale said to me many years ago, quoting a then popular book, I think, The Mac Is Not A Typewriter. Double spacing is useful on a typewriter but a wasted motion on a word processing system.

I use my knife and fork European style, too.
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 5th, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
a wasted motion on a word processing system.

I don't know about Macs, but that's certainly not the case in Word for Windows, or old WordStar, or any other word processor I've used in a PC. In all those, two spaces comes out as two spaces. Only in HTML does it not, so in that case, why worry about which it is, any more than you worry about line breaks in HTML?
[User Picture]
From:ice_hesitant
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
If I'm not mistaken, the HTML standard collapses all whitespace down to one space, so two spaces at the end of a sentence will look exactly the same as one space on a web page.
[User Picture]
From:ice_hesitant
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Foo. Bar. That was a single space.

Foo. Bar. That was a double space.
[User Picture]
From:elenbarathi
Date:February 7th, 2014 04:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
On my screen, there is only a single space showing in both of them:


Foo*Bar
Foo Bar. That was a single space.
Foo Bar. That was a double space.
Foo**Bar

... so if the program collapses double spaces into singles anyway, it matters not whether one types them single or double. Too bad, because more white space makes text more readable.
[User Picture]
From:metahacker
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, but some clients will silently substitute ' ' for the second space (and every other space), to preserve spacing...
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:February 7th, 2014 12:19 am (UTC)
(Link)
Exactly, I was taught to use 2 spaces when learning to type properly, and continued to do so for a very long time, but when I got into web coding (which doesn't need it) and LJ (which can't use it) I very swiftly got out of the habit, it's basically deprecated and pointless in most modern media.
[User Picture]
From:filkerdave
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'll note that my strong preference for 2 spaces is only when I'm typing, because that's how I was taught. It's a habit, rather than a preference. I can't even say that I think about it; I just do it.
[User Picture]
From:mneme
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This, although I listed it as mild (but I always do it). Frankly, I think computer programs should be smart enough to space things correctly -- but that putting two spaces after the period isn't significant work for humans, and gives programs more data to use to space things out (because I'm not convinced that abreviations should get the same amount of space after the period that a sentence ending does).
[User Picture]
From:beamjockey
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
Habit: me, too.
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
This. Though with two addenda. I'm old fashioned in my email: I read it in terminal window, in a fixed width font. My one concession to modernity is that I'm now in UTF-8, not ASCII. I appreciate the second space after sentence-ending periods in emails I am sent, because they make text gently more readable.

Secondly, I post to LJ via email, and in my email program[*], ending a paragraph with two spaces has a special meaning, "concatenate with next line", therefore I have been trying to break my habit of concluding sentences with an extra space when I don't mean it. This has been approximately impossible. Apparently the two-space-after-end-of-sentence thing has gotten wired directly into whatever part of the brain parses English grammar into a set of hand gestures at a keyboard, and it's never, ever, ever coming out again. *le sigh*

[* Actually, it's not my email program, it's the protocol LJ's email handler knows about that I've set up my email to use, and, well, it's a long story.]
[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:February 6th, 2014 03:30 am (UTC)
(Link)
I've managed to learn to use shift-enter so that I can get lines between paragraphs on facebook.

However, the incentives may be stronger. I hate accidentally posting when I just meant to paragraph, and I also hate having to repeatedly reset Facebook so that I can get my Post button back.
[User Picture]
From:harvey_rrit
Date:February 5th, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I taught myself to read when I was two (at least, nobody in my family would admit to being responsible for my ability to call bullshit on people), and reading is a primary brain function for me. A second space calls attention to itself and interrupts the flow.
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's supposed to interrupt the flow. It's the end of a sentence.
[User Picture]
From:harvey_rrit
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:06 am (UTC)
(Link)
"You-- you just don't get it, do ya, son?"
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:09 am (UTC)
(Link)
You certainly don't. If there's no difference between the space after a sentence and the space between "St. Louis" - man, does that ever fog up the reading process.

Edited at 2014-02-06 12:10 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:harvey_rrit
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
Snark noted and given all due weight.
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm not being snarky. I'm entirely serious. I hate one-space between sentences, and it annoys me on the web too.
[User Picture]
From:harvey_rrit
Date:February 6th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
8O

8|

I got nothin'.
[User Picture]
From:natf
Date:February 10th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
(Link)
You need a browser that adds extra white-space then.  Added nbsp.
[User Picture]
From:natf
Date:February 10th, 2014 01:43 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh I love it! My browser put the nbsp after breaking the line!
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 10th, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Any way to do that automatically? And to instruct it how to avoid inserting the extra space where it doesn't belong, like in "St. Louis"?

If not, then forget it. I'd have to read the thing in its bad spacing form in order to correct it to its good-spacing form, which would negate the whole reason for correcting it.
[User Picture]
From:houseboatonstyx
Date:February 6th, 2014 04:54 am (UTC)
(Link)
True.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:marycatelli
Date:February 5th, 2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, if you let it. Those of us who go after any and all autocorrect with murder in our hearts can stop it.
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
(Link)
I wouldn't call a word processor "decent" if it automatically puts 1.5 normal spaces inside "St. Louis".
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
It might. But then you'd have to remember to do it, and how to do whatever special character is involved, and so on. It's easier just to type two spaces when you need two spaces, which I've been doing, and still do even when I know it's HTML and won't display that way, all my typing life. I'm not about to switch to Dvorak either.
[User Picture]
From:kalimac
Date:February 6th, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
I use two spaces. Two spaces is sensible. It helps make the reading process easier. See what happens when two spaces appear in intermediate periods (like "St. Louis") and the difference is obvious.

I also independently invented the European method of eating. That too is sensible.
[User Picture]
From:theweaselking
Date:February 6th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm right-handed. I hold things down with my left hand and cut them with my right. WHY would I ever change hands for something that doesn't require coordination (bringing the cut-off thing to my face) when I know I immediately have to change back for something that DOES require concentration (using a sharp object on food in proximity to my fingers)

"knife right, fork left, eat with fork and don't swap" is the only behaviour that makes sense. Left-handed people should reverse that, and ambidextrous people can die in a fire because they make me so jealous.
[User Picture]
From:bibliotrope
Date:February 6th, 2014 04:14 am (UTC)
(Link)
I learned *two* spaces -- on a manual typewriter, in high school. (I took a semester of typing, which was unusual for someone in the college-prep track at our school but I knew I was going to need it. Little did I know that with computers I would really need it! I was thinking more then about term papers.)

Yes, on modern word processors it's basically redundant. And it can create "channels" or "rivers" of white spaces down a page (this I notice in books, although they are also created by the process of justifying both margins). But I still do it, at least sometimes -- I think I've partly unlearned it, and don't do it all the time anymore -- because it's habit, and it's how I was taught. And because sometimes the one space after the period doesn't look long enough, and it looks like a short pause, not a full stop. Like a comma, not a period.
[User Picture]
From:houseboatonstyx
Date:February 6th, 2014 05:00 am (UTC)
(Link)
As someone mentioned when this came up elsewhere, marking the end of a sentence with two spaces gives the reader more information. If some later program doesn't like to mark the end of sentences, it can macro space-space to space. You can always destroy information. But if the original is one-space, there's no way to change it to two-space, ie to supply the missing information.
[User Picture]
From:drethelin
Date:February 6th, 2014 06:55 am (UTC)
(Link)
What's the benefit of this information that a period doesn't contain? The missing information in this case is totally irrelevant. I can typo9 and leaving that nine on there isn't giving you anything you actually want.
[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:February 6th, 2014 02:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think whether information is present depends on how much you read by shape as well as symbol.

Upper and lower case is generally considered more readable than ALL CAPS because upper and lower case gives more variety to the shapes of the words.
[User Picture]
From:acelightning
Date:February 6th, 2014 06:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm another one who taught myself to read by the age of two or so - I think I just basically acquired all my verbal skills at once. But even at that young age, even in books, two-spaces-at-the-end-of-a-sentence looked wrong. I now recognize that it looks like a typo; it's jarring, and interrupts the flow of what I'm reading.

I recognize the logic in the "European" style of eating, because switching back and forth between fork and knife in the dominant hand does seem to be a lot of wasted motion. But my left hand doesn't have the dexterity (pun intended) to convey morsels of food into my mouth reliably, without occasionally sticking my fork up my nose. So I eat like a small child, even though it's technically not the most perfect of "table manners"; I cut some or all of my meat (and any other food that needs pre-cutting) into bite-size pieces with my knife in my right hand, then set the knife down on my plate, pick up the fork with my right hand, and use the fork to transfer bites of food to my mouth. Actually, I avoid this at home by stir-frying the majority of my meals, so that the foods are already in bite-size pieces before I even cook them... with a single space after each bite ;-)

[User Picture]
From:tigerbright
Date:February 6th, 2014 09:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
I agree on the fork/knife thing.
[User Picture]
From:azurelunatic
Date:February 6th, 2014 07:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
My complaint about this poll: strong preference for whichever is appropriate for the medium. In HTML, proportional fonts, and word processors, that's one space. In monospaced fonts where the format doesn't eat it, two.
[User Picture]
From:dr_zrfq
Date:February 7th, 2014 05:24 am (UTC)
(Link)
Hey, where's the "Ticky box!" option for the "Addenda" section? ;-P
nancybuttons.com Powered by LiveJournal.com