Saturday, 4 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: Double-spacing after every sentence

I learned to type about thirty-something years ago on a real typewriter. Loud clackety thing it was. I was about ten or so, and took a summer class. I loved to type, even though I wasn't very quick at it.

A couple of years later I took a typing class at junior high. Alas, I was the slowest kid in class, clocking in at a very slow thirty words a minute. I barely passed that class because of my (lack of) speed.

Yet I continued to keep typing. I loved typing because it make me feel like a real writer. So I typed lots and lots.

Pretty soon, I got up to a decent speed. Then someone introduced me to computers. I was hooked.

With the ability to make on-the-go corrections, I was able to get my speed up to a respectable 100 wpm, a speed I can still maintain to this day when I'm in the Zone.

One of the earliest skills I learned was to double-space between sentences. This was a practice left over from the early typesetting days and is called English-spacing. In typesetting, the em-space was often used between sentences to make it easier to read the text. On a proportionately-spaced typewriter, this was indicated by two spaces.

Since I practiced typing for years and year, you can bet that practice of double-spacing after every sentence was well-ingrained. Single-spacing was used after typesetting for stylistic purposes. It was called French spacing. After all, anything odd or out-of-the-ordinary must be French, right?

Computer really changed the art of typing (or 'keyboarding' as it was later called). Suddenly one did not need to have to know how to set tabs on a machine, and carriage returns at the end of every line became a thing of the past. Word processors enabled formatting of all sorts, and one did not have to apply formatting as one went.  Finished typing a document? You could go back and make changes of all kinds. Including replacing all those double-spaces with singles.

Mignon Fogarty, the Grammar Girl offers this easy suggestion: "On a typewriter, double-space. On a computer, single-space." So, what happens when you have one of these?

I have seen editors who insist that double-spacing is a No-No. (Fortunately, a search'n'replace can get rid of them.) But as much as I would love to please them, I can't seem to get rid of this double-spacing habit.

Her Grace is grateful for Ctrl-H.


Shonna Slayton said...

It took me a bit to lose the double-space, too. But I don't miss the old typewriter--I make too many mistakes as I'm typing :) Happy A to Z!

ozzypip said...

I loved computers because we can get rid of all those typos at the end too. I started my bachelors degree by distance Ed back before I had a computer. I had a small electric typewriter that had a correction feature that you could use before the end of the line. Once you hit the return that was it... it was on the page and you needed correction fluid. Even with my new typewriter I still made heaps of typos and some of my lecturers seemed more concerned with those than the content of my assignments. My theory was if its only worth 5% of the marks its only worth 5% of the comments. My masters was done after we had a computer. Oh the joy. Mind you my typing wasn't up to much ever and I still don't do tabs very well and double spacing single spacing is luck of the keyboard strike too. Loved your post... from fellow a-zer