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The BIG Reason

Music, opinions, and portfolio of Mark Eagleton, musician and web developer in Northern CA.

We Need To Talk About Your Periods

I have noticed a disturbing trend of incorrectly including a space between the last word of a sentence and its closing punctuation. This punctuation mark is then proceeded by another space—which is correct—before the capital (sometimes) letter of the word that begins the next sentence.

It looks like this:

I saw Caitlyn at the food court this weekend . She was with Kaiden !

This style of punctuation tends to show up in public forums like Facebook and YouTube comment threads. It seems to be favored by those who generally don’t contribute anything meaningful (or coherent) to a conversation. Like using “all caps,” it communicates a lack of taste at best, or a lack of intelligence at worst.

If you are guilty of using puntuation in this manner, please stop doing it. If you notice this in the wild, please correct the author.

Speaking of Spacing

While we’re on the subject, it’s probably a good time to discuss a similarly annoying trend. This one, however, has had significantly more time to permeate the fabric of our society. I am referring to the act of incorrectly placing two spaces at the end of a sentence.

This habit was—and likely still is—taught as the proper way to separate sentences in typing classes throughout the English-speaking world. This is due to the fact that when typing was in its infancy, manual typewriters were the tool of the trade. These machines used monospaced fonts, so including an extra space between sentences enhanced legibility by more clearly separating them. This technological shortcoming was corrected in the 1970s with the advent of the electric typewriter, and later by the personal computer.

Unless you are typing on a manual typewriter, you should be using a single space after your sentences. If you don’t believe me, pick up any book, newspaper, or magazine in your immediate vicinity and flip to any page with more than one sentence on it and look at the spaces in between. Yes, every page of every book you have ever read is typeset this way.

This is the convention agreed upon by typographers for hundreds of years—even during the days of the manual typewriter. If you ever write an editorial for a magazine, publish a book, or a scientific paper, an editor (or more accurately, a designer or typesetter) will choose the appropriate typefaces, point sizes, cases, weights, kerning, leading, and replace all of your double spaces with a single space. They do these things to maximize legibility—the same reason we used double spaces on the old machines.

Typography is the penmanship of the digital age. If you are self publishing, you are responsible for your own legibility.

If you are guilty of separating sentences this manner, please stop doing it. If you notice this in the wild, please correct the author.