Number of spaces after a fullstop.

TMA

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Jan 6, 2003
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Does anyone else put two spaces after a fullstop or at the end of a sentence? I was once taught to do this and it's stuck, I personally think it looks neater. But is it technically 'correct'? Are there any rules of English Language for typing rather than pen and paper?
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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I don't believe you need to do that anymore. It was common practice on a typewriter, which has no ability to control spacing for letters, but on a computer I've been told that it can handle that on it's own.

And yes there are rules. MLA format works for many Literature types, and there are several other formats that other fields/industries have developed.
 

TMA

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Original poster
Jan 6, 2003
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Just noticed...

After posting on this forum the two spaces seem to get automatically turned into a single space. How odd!
 

Jaffa Cake

macrumors Core
Aug 1, 2004
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The City of Culture, Englandshire
mactastic is spot on – it's a hangover from the days of the typewriter, where the monospaced characters made it difficult to see where sentences started. The fonts you use on your Mac are properly proportioned so this isn't a problem. Typographically, using two spaces is a big no-no – but try telling that to my clients who send me copy filled with the bloody things. :mad:
 

TMA

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Jan 6, 2003
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When I write something on paper I was always taught in school to leave a slightly bigger space at the end of a sentence compared to the space between words. The only way to recreate that on screen is to use 2 spaces. And I do think it looks a lot better. I write all my emails at work and professional documents (e.g CV's) like this.
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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There is no one official body that determines correct English language usage, but I've worked in a variety of environments as an editor and most style guides seems to agree on one space.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
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ive always used two spaces myself, but each formatting style has different rules, i mainly use MLA or Chicago style depending on the subject

i just prefer the way in which the sentence and paragraph layout looks when i type this way, but im quirky like that...
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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Looks like we got ourselves a good, old fashioned grammer debate goin' here.

I would like to add that there's absolutely no good reason no to split infinitives.
 

TMA

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I'm not familiar with 'MLA' or 'Chicago' styles, could someone explain to me what they are? Is there anything similar in the UK that might be a useful example?
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
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Typewriters may have been monospaced, but simply using a computer instead doesn't automatically resolve the problem. If you know that text will come out in a monospaced font, you can make it easier to read by putting two spaces between sentences.

Sometimes extra whitespace is removed by the software you use, such as in forum posts or HTML, unless you use tags like code or pre to preserve them. The software used to produce your end-product (whether it's a printed document, an e-mail, a book, or the credits scrolling by during a movie) have the last say about formatting.

The letter of the law (which isn't a law anyway) doesn't matter as much as the principle behind it. The easier you make it to read what you write, the more people will read it. So the same rule applies to your choice of font.
 

TMA

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Original poster
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miloblithe said:
Looks like we got ourselves a good, old fashioned grammer debate goin' here..
hehe are you sure you don't mean 'grammar' ? ;)

I don't see this getting into a debate, it's just a preference surely?
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
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TMA said:
I'm not familiar with 'MLA' or 'Chicago' styles, could someone explain to me what they are? Is there anything similar in the UK that might be a useful example?

here is a good page that i use whenever i need to do some formatting for my papers, maybe it will help
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
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Michigan
TMA said:
Just noticed...

After posting on this forum the two spaces seem to get automatically turned into a single space. How odd!
Most web forms eliminate extra spaces. It is actually done natively because HTML ignores white space, if you want to intentationally add a non-breaking space in HTML you have to use a   character.

Personally, I almost always use two spaces at the end of a sentence. I was taught that way in high school and right or wrong, I've grown accustomed to it and believe it looks better. Even if I were to change my mind now, I don't think I could stop doing it - old habits die hard.

Edit: Did a quick search. There are a bunch of HTML space characters. I had only seen   before.

  - thin space
&sp; - medium space
  - thick space
&quad; - huge space
 

miloblithe

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Nov 14, 2003
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TMA said:
hehe are you sure you don't mean 'grammar' ? ;)

I don't see this getting into a debate, it's just a preference surely?
Yeah, I noticed that after I typed it, but didn't feel like changing it. I am an awful speller.

Oh, and unless you're producing a newspaper, you should always use the serial comma!

C'mon debate...
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
TMA said:
I'm not familiar with 'MLA' or 'Chicago' styles, could someone explain to me what they are? Is there anything similar in the UK that might be a useful example?
MLA = Modern Language Association. They're a body that puts out best practices in literature, basically, but they're one of the more influential bodies for how academic texts are formatted. Most academic fields have organizations that govern how information is reported by scholars. For instance, in my field, there is the American Psychological Association, which has a style guide similar to MLA's, but for psychological treatises, encompassing issues that don't arise outside of psychology so commonly. I don't know what the UK equivalent would be, but you might start here:

http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-860564-1
 

TMA

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 6, 2003
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England
miloblithe said:
Yeah, I noticed that after I typed it, but didn't feel like changing it. I am an awful speller.

Oh, and unless you're producing a newspaper, you should always use the serial comma!

C'mon debate...
I somehow got an A grade for GCSE English even though I'm piss poor at spelling and grammar. I guess it shows how standards slip.

What the flip is a serial comma? Are you going to force me to google?
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
miloblithe said:
Oh, and unless you're producing a newspaper, you should always use the serial comma!
My Technical Communications instructor when I was an undergrad claimed that engineers are the worlds' biggest fans of the serial comma, and in comparison, that relatively few others use it. I don't know if it's true or not.

When I *was* producing a newspaper, I drummed it into myself that this was the wrong way of doing things, and got into the habit of perpetually typing them and then deleting them...hmmm...maybe I should go back to my roots. :)
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
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Washington, DC
mkrishnan said:
My Technical Communications instructor when I was an undergrad claimed that engineers are the worlds' biggest fans of the serial comma, and in comparison, that relatively few others use it. I don't know if it's true or not.

When I *was* producing a newspaper, I drummed it into myself that this was the wrong way of doing things, and got into the habit of perpetually typing them and then deleting them...hmmm...maybe I should go back to my roots. :)
It's good for more techincal/academic documents, as well as clarity in general. While not using a serial comma is fairly clear in sentences that have single item lists, in more complex lists the serial comma is really useful.