If you learned to type on a typewriter, you probably learned to put two spaces after a period.
On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the online debate raging about the number of spaces to place at the end of a sentence.
Many “two-spacers” have been typing this way since they first approached a typewriter in grade school. Some were taught that a double-space makes writing more legible. However, today many standard style guides, including Modern Language Association and Chicago, require one space.
“The tradition of using two, or even sometimes more spaces, has a long history,” Curzan explains. “But we’re now moving into an era with computers, where the fonts use different sizes for different characters that also adjust for that space after the period.”
While some writers are arguing over spaces, others can’t decide what to capitalize. For example, when writing “President Obama,” should the “P” in president be capitalized? Either is correct according to different style guides.
Even if we cannot settle the capital “P” debate, our language has shifted away from capital letters. In the 17th and 18th centuries, writers often capitalized a noun they wanted to stress, making English look a bit like German.
What kind of a spacer are you?
Let us know by leaving a comment below!
– Omar Saadeh, Michigan Radio Newsroom