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Odd question about spacing...

OK, this may seem silly, but when I was learning to type, we were always taught to leave 2 spaces after a period at the end of a sentence.  I was an administrative assistant for many years, and that's how it was done ... It's automatic now...

I recently tried out a new grammar checking program, and it wants to delete all those extra spaces, and just put 1 space after a period.

So my question... is there a difference between biz typing and book publishing typing?  Or is this 2 space down to 1 space a change that has happened across the board that I have been unaware of?

I'm wondering whether to go through and change the entire book (as this program will keep flagging the extra spaces), or whether either 1 or 2 is acceptable, in which case I may drop the program instead... 😕

Inquiring minds want to know!

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Replies (41)
    • I believe the double spacing is a hangover from type writers and monospaced fonts. The standard now is single space.

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      • I was afraid of that 😄 ... thanks, guess I'll persevere with the new program and change the whole dang book - plus unlearn a habit of over 45 years!!

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      • Jo, I dont know what program you are using, but if it's MS Word, or you save it to MS Word, just use the 'replace' tab, type in the double space, then below type in one space, click 'replace all, and Word will change them all in five seconds.

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        • Oh yes, very familiar with both FIND and REPLACE... my best friends lately, as I learn filtering and echoing... 😜👍

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          • Thank you for the tip, Robert.  I've just decided to go with it because the smaller space doesn't make the print look too cramped after all and it's a good idea to look up-to-date.

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          • Robert's right about MS Word. What a relief when I discovered, just a few months ago, that I could use replace when I realised I'd have to change all the spacing in my drafts. I learned the two space rule when I first started typing and still automatically type it.

            Another thing I have to replace is double quotes with singles. Can't stop my fingers going to the top row of the keyboard 😀 

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            • Magazines still use double, I think, novels single, though I'm guessing if you're book is produced in the UK but going to be sold widely in the US, maybe they'd use double?

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              • I buy mostly used books and always see ". Is ' a recent trend I haven't noticed? (USA here.)

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                • It's a UK thing.

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                • I worked in offices and with typewriters for a long time. What lovely things those typewriters were :( Once someone pointed out the spacing issue, the fact I was writing my own fiction was enough incentive to change and breaking the two-space habit came quite easily. 

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                  • Surely no agent or publisher would reject work just because you'd used double letter spaces after a full stop, or double quotes for speech?  As far as double quote marks are concerned, it doesn't look at all right to me when someone in your novel is quoting something, so that heftier double marks end up inside single ones.

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                    • No sensible one would.

                      From the (unpublished) work I've seen, at least half of people writing in the UK use double quotes in their manuscripts. (It's much higher amongst those who are writing business-type documentation.) It's the publishing industry that is so fixated on the use of single quotes for speech.

                      I suspect the deeper reasons for single are:

                      • People in the UK who learned on US keyboard, but can't cope with the transposition of @ and " (even though they have to learn not to shift when typing the quote)
                      • An attempt to standardise as news article headlines (bolded) that include a quote use single rather than double quotes because of ink/space (and single quotes look fine in that instance).
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                    • My historical novel uses double quotes to give a dated feel. My contempory work uses single quotes. A professional editor might want different to what I want, but I hope no agent, reader or editor will dismiss a work because something so trivial and alter-able is "wrong", I mean 'wrong'.

                      However, Blakeney makes a point that wins the debate for the old way - to which I'd add the problem of the apostrophe. "I'm just going to the ladies'," she said surely looks better than 'I'm just going to the ladies','

                      And a colloquialism like "'Course it is," makes more sense than ''Course it is.' (You get the idea, though this typeface doesn't show the detail.)

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                      • I need to get better at this reading business. I always use “ because that’s what we were taught in school. I can’t say I have ever even noticed whether books I read use ‘ or “. Does that mean that readers don’t actually care or is it just me?

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                        • Would you explain?

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                          • They clearly want to eradicate it; they've already purged it from so many words where it belongs, claiming their spelling is correct despite the lack of evidence.

                            Of course, I said they had an aversion to it, rather than that they were adverse to it, but the same argument holds even in the more forceful case..

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                            • Okay! Like colour -- color :)

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                            • Grammar Girl's podcast episode #740 is a great reference on quotes. Americans use double. British use single, but it's evidently not a hard and fast rule. 

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                              • I don't remember using double spaces when I learned to type, back in the Dark Ages (about 30 years ago!) but i would certainly find it tedious now. Do publishers really mind? I suppose if they have a house style, but surely they can reset it?

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                                • If you learned on a word processor, Kathleen, that would probably be why you were taught to use single spaces. Double spaces were a typewriter thing. They made a page of type look better and easier to read. 

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                                • I work on the principle that spacing and double quotes shouldn't matter, but that in my experience, many larger organisations have filters and underlings whose job is to exclude material - and spotting double spaces and so on, makes em feel happy.  I hate it, but try my best to keep up with the minor expectations - someone somewhere said, keep the little rules and break the big ones.

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                                  • He's talking about words like neighbour / neighbor; flavour / flavor; colour / color; humour / humor; labour / labor etc.  

                                    According to "ahem" the Oxford International English website, the differences arose way back in the 1800's.  

                                    Apparently the British kept the spelling of words imported from other languages (mainly French and German), while Americans took to spelling words the way they actually sounded.  BOTH countries had dictionaries published in the 1800's that set the differences in stone (in Britain blame Samuel Jackson, in America blame Noah Webster).

                                    I'm Canadian, 😁 , so I swing both ways... though I must say my spell check is set for American (there IS no Canadian setting!!), and has marked all those U words as incorrect!!

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                                    • My only real objection is to the extra "i" the Brits add... its ALUMINUM, not ALUMINIUM, lol...

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                                      • OK, gotta love Google!

                                        GH as in ENOUGH (F)

                                        O as in WOMEN (I)

                                        TI as in MOTION (SH)

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                                        • Sending that to my weirdos, 😜 , they'll love it! 

                                          We just discovered another word this week, which comes from the 18th century... used to describe the gross nauseated feeling you get from drinking too much (no idea what's that like myself 😁 )... its CRAPULOUS... I kid you not!

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                                          • I've run into "crapulous" recently and it can only have been in Mantel's Cromwell trilogy -- where, I don't remember. That takes place before the 18th century so I got curious and, as Jo says, 'gotta love Google'. Here's what I found:

                                            It is derived from the Late Latin adjective crapulosus, which in turn traces back to the Latin word crapula, meaning "intoxication." "Crapula" itself comes from a much older Greek word for the headache one gets from drinking. "Crapulous" first appeared in print in 1536.

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