The Double Space and I.

Quotable

I am an oversensitive perfectionist.

Which, for any embryos out there who happen to be choosing the character traits with which they will be stuck for the next eighty years, is a really crappy combination.

I still remember the fateful day in high school when someone pointed out that I said “Areenge” instead of “Orange.” It took me weeks to figure out exactly which sylabbic pronunciations were the correct combination to produce an unmockable orange, but I finally found them within myself. And for the past fifteen years, I have thought of that event every single time I’ve said the word “orange,” as I take careful precautions to get it just right.

A few years later, a coworker brought it to my attention that I said “anyways” when I really should be saying “anyway.” Anyways felt so right that I looked it up to ensure her inerrancy in correcting me, but the moment I discovered that she was legitimate, I hacked that “s” out of my vocabulary quicker than my toddler can find food on the floor and eat it.

(Or ladybugs.)

(Just kidding. That was his big sister.)

So it should be no surprise that when I saw my more journalistically-trained friends (who already greatly intimidate me due to my journalactophobia) begin posting links on Facebook and Twitter about the terrific gaffe, potential evil, and amateurishness of the double space, I began, once again, to feel that terrible aura of unacceptability within my soul.

But I couldn’t change right away. The double space was a part of who I was, and a part of over a thousand posts to which I had to still claim authorship. To shun it would most certainly shame all of my previous work, and I couldn’t bear the thought.

And plus, I thought it looked better. It was clean. It was concise. It had closure. It was exactly what the end of a sentence should be.

And after all, I had been taught that the double space was correct, and turning my back on my education was the ultimate admission of my quickly aging state.

Then again, I was also taught that Pluto was a planet.

More, more, and more “friends” began posting links to articles lambasting the double space and comparing anyone who still used it to primordial beings not worth entrance onto the internet, and certainly not into the world of print.

It pained me to think of changing. My hands – they were so accustomed to the cadence of the double tap on that long, comfortable space bar. How could they ever adapt?

Maybe my friends didn’t notice.

But one morning, I was procrastinating on the task of getting out of bed and justifying it by having deep thoughts with myself because getting a new mattress was the worst thing that ever happened to morning productivity – she’s so soft and generous with her comfort that she’s like that illogical enabling friend who doesn’t want what’s best for me, but just wants me to hang out with her all day.

(It’s as if she serenades me with “Baby It’s Cold Outside” every morning, and even though I hate that song, it totally works when sung by a mattress.)

Anyways. I MEAN ANYWAY.

One morning, as I was procrastinating on the task of getting out of bed and justifying it by having deep thoughts with myself, I purposed in my heart to do it. To give up my security blanket of an extra space forever and become a Big Girl Writer.

And I did.

And that was that.

Now if I could just stop using the word “infamous” incorrectly, I might make it a month or two before once more feeling vast amounts of scorn toward myself.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1
    Tarin says:

    Wait, what?!? Pluto isn’t a planet any more??? And anyways isn’t a correct word??? And the double space is no longer appropriate and is actually frowned upon??? Thanks for shattering my world and making me wish I had a mattress that sang “Baby, it’s cold outside” to me. :( I guess I will have to find a way to go on with the rest of my life today.

  2. 2
    Lindsay says:

    Sorry…. :(

    • 2.1
      Rachel says:

      Ha! I would have beat myself over it no matter what. I did the same thing a few months ago – in an actual blog post!!! [horrors]

  3. 3

    All that other stuff aside – journalactophobia makes me think that you’re afraid of lactating journalists. Are you sure that’s the correct word? ;)

  4. 4
    Becky says:

    Aw, man, I have a thing for the double space, too. I just can’t help myself. I kind of want to buck the system and keep the double space alive, but fear I might just look like an idiot. Ugh. This might be the kick I need to do it. See I just did it and it was weird.

    Maybe I should just press enter after each sentence to avoid the whole thing.

    Hmmm…

    Also, I can’t say the word “bagel” to make anyone happy.

  5. 5
    Karla Archer says:

    At age 17, I had it pointed out to me that I added an extra syllable to theatre (I had, after all, learned to speak from my southern parents). I spent months perfecting it. Now that I’m back south, I’ve had to relearn adding that extra syllable again.

    I’m glad you finally learned about the double-space. We didn’t want to keep whispering about it ;)

  6. 6
    Melanie Miller says:

    Yes, I recently began using the single space after the period. It is very hard to get used to. It goes against everything I learned, too. I remember my high school English teacher telling me, after reading a short story I had written, that a phrase I had used was incorrect. “I thought to myself.” who else would you think to, she said. And because I couldn’t show her in a book where I had read that phrase she made me take it out. But I see it all the time in print even to this day! Anyone else?

    My father in law says oiyange, my husband says syrup and sheriff as one syllable words (learned from his mother) and my 12 yr old son makes up words, uses them so frequently that the rest of us start using them and then we have to monitor our speech around non-family because no one else would understand us and our nonsensical words. (Unless you are talking to other 12 yr old boys.)

    • 6.1
      Gyps says:

      I remember when one of my college professors blasted me for writing “one in the same” on a paper instead of the correct “one and the same”. I was mortified! Why? I never used the expression when speaking but seeing it on paper with the red marks surrounding it scarred me.

      A couple years ago, when I was still new to the South (I grew up near Chicago and now live in Georgia), I sent an email to students and referred to them as “y’all”. Oh man, the backlash I received from them. I get it now. Every now and then I receive an email from a family member from the great Midwest and in it I see that “y’all” and I instantly respond with a correction to which without fail I get a response stating that’s how non-Southerners spell it. Hmmm…..

  7. 7
    Michele says:

    They beat the double space out of me in design school. It was traumatic. Let’s not even talk about exclamation points!

  8. 8
    Troy says:

    Why, why, why, why, why did I ever read this? I could have lived the rest of my life in blissful ignorance, but instead chose to read about this blasphemous practice of using a single space after a period. You should have seen the incredulous look on my face as I was reading your post, my face expressing greater and greater degrees of shock and righteous indignation as I read each line.

    I had to know the truth. The real truth. The truth which only Google can provide. I immediately ran a search on “double-space after a period.”

    Lo and behold… Article after article…from Wikipedia to Slate to Yahoo Answers…all telling me the same thing. The double-space had gone the way of the dinosaur, “Out with the typewriter,” they said. “Monospaced fonts,” they said.

    It made me sick to my stomach. The look of righteous indignation turned to one of disbelief and shock. My mind wanted me to run away screaming in denial, but the more rational side agreed that it must be so. Crestfallen, I came back to write this comment.

    I don’t know how I’m going to adjust. Double-spacing comes so naturally. It’s part of the cadence of typing. But now that you’ve opened the door, I’m always going to be double-checking myself. It’s going to end up bugging me so much that I’ll have to force myself to slow down and consciously whisper in my head after every period, “single-space, single-space.” (Said twice for emphasis.)

    Not this comment though. I’m throwing in as many double-spaces as I can in one last figurative fist-shaking at the God of Typography. Of course, I also learned through reading some of those articles that HTML actually gets rid of unnecessary spaces anyway! So my double-spacing here might be for naught. But no matter, _I_ know the truth, and that is all that matters.

    Thanks a lot, Rachel.

  9. 9
    Que Sera says:

    As Troy mentions, almost all internet programs delete the extra space. So your other posts look fine as do the comments above from people thinking they double spaced. I came to the same realization a month ago and my husband is a huge typeset junky and told me not to worry about my posts all of them are already correct. All my articles were corrected by editors prior to publication too. Phew.

    My dissertation is another story however. Oh well, they make us use typewriter-style typeset for that anyway.

    I too am an oversensitive perfectionist with a healthy dose of Catholic guilt added on. It’s not a pretty combo.

    • 9.1
      Rachel says:

      I’m very confused by this, because when I read my emails on my iPhone, they didn’t have double spaces. On my computer, they do. I’m not sure how normal all of my old posts do look…

  10. 10
    Qoumidan says:

    Bleh. Double spaces and Pluto is a planet.

  11. 11
    absepa says:

    I never picked up on the double space thing, for some reason. Part of my job, however, is to edit formal, professional reports which do use the double space. So, I usually end up making all of the edits to a report, printing it out, realizing I single-spaced everything, and starting over. Wish I could point my boss to your blog post and say, “See? Rachel was attached to the double space, too, and she’s getting over it.”

  12. 12
    Karon Walls says:

    Gasp! I had no idea. I feel so old.

  13. 13
    Whitney says:

    Please just don’t use “irregardless” and think it is ok. Kinda makes me want to hurt people. A lot.

  14. 14

    One of my bosses and I had a really long discussion about the two spaces. He still prefers it, but I am trying to unlearn it like you did. Good luck!

  15. 15
    Kristy says:

    My first response while reading this post was “what double space?” Since I wasn’t sure what you were talking about, I was pretty sure I was doing it wrong whatever “it” was. When I finally figured out what double space you were talking about I realized that I was indeed doing it. I guess I was taught to do it that way in high school in typing class way back in the dinosaur age before we had personal computers. I still do it everywhere except Twitter because I need to utilize all my spaces there to the fullest.

  16. 16
    Eva says:

    i had never noticed you double spaced! and i didn’t know some people learned that was the correct way to space. i didn’t i guess. i think it’s correct to double space after a colon ( : )? (i seriously had to look up the word in the dictionary to see if i was spelling it right).

  17. 17
    Sam M says:

    I will keep my double space along with the Oxford comma.

  18. 18
    Rachel says:

    Ok so I had NO idea the double space was wrong! Since when? And why? It is ingrained in our brains in school and now we’re just supposed to change it? And that’s how you easily end a sentence when phone typing. My life has been shaken.

  19. 19
    Jen says:

    The no double space adaption hasn’t been easy for me, either. On the other hand, as a Louisianian, I can tell you with authority that /are-enge/ is, in fact, the correct pronunciation of “orange”; certainly, it is far better than /ernge/.

  20. 20
    Erin says:

    No double space after a period? I’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know it. Double spacing and periods are like tea and sugar. [space] [space] No way I can give it up now!!

  21. 21
    MIchele says:

    seriously you crack me up. I am the exact.same.way! When I was in middle school I said “nicklace” instead of necklace and was mocked and from that moment on I have watched every.single.word. I say and how I enunciate it. But I will say I never knew about this double space thing, so apparently my education was inept. HA!

  22. 22

    I also learned a double space was correct and now I want to know who in this world is so powerful that they have a right to change the rule?(click-click) That’s the beauty of blogging – throw punctuation where you want and if someone doesn’t like it – - – . . . , tell them to go write their own blog!!!!

    ???

  23. 23
    Amy says:

    Wow! I had no idea! I told my husband as if this were a major crisis and after he laughed at my distress, he suggested I look it up on the APA website. Under “What’s New in the Sixth Edition…” it says that the double space after the period is back to help aid in readability.

    “Punctuation—return to two spaces after the period at the end of the sentence recommended for ease of reading comprehension.”

    So now my question is….do people not go by APA anymore??? Is the single space etiquette for blogging??? And more importantly….am I really SO old that I am having this hard of a time swallowing the fact that something so minor and ingrained has changed???

  24. 24
    Erin L says:

    I wrote for the school newspaper in high school and it was there that the double space was beat out of me. The idea was that you want as much text as possible in the little amount of space you are granted. But it was a hard habit to break. I didn’t realize it was a topic of so much derision, however. I prefer the way it looks with 2 spaces.

  25. 25
    Erin L says:

    Also, I clicked back to your Christmas traditions post. I don’t agree with all your dislikes (mostly because I love really stupid movies. It is kind of a problem), but your number 1 like is absolutely the best thing about Christmas (except insert “Dave” for Chris because that would be weird.)

  26. 26
    faith says:

    LOL….so I’m sitting here saying “orange” out loud to see if I say it wrong. I’m right there with ya on everything you said…SO true….from the double space to anyways to mispronounced words that stick with you for YEARS. Venice…my personal favorite mispronounced word….lol.

  27. 27
    Jenica says:

    I’m a shameful double space user. When on a regular keyboard, anyway. On my iPad anti phone you hit the space bar two times to add a period so I’m sure that doesn’t help my situation! Oh well, not the last time I’ll be out of date, I’m sure ;)

  28. 28
    Summer says:

    Psh. Whatever. I’ve never thought, “That person has too little (or too much) space between their sentences, that’s goofy looking!” However, I simply cannot even attempt reading posts that randomly capitalize letters. Maybe I’m just not neurotic about the right things… and, I like to use periods to show pause for thinking…. and multiple exclamation points to add extra exclaiming… I think I view my typing style as a picture of my person, not as a picture of my knowledge. I’m sorry you’ve been scarred by people picking apart the way you say things. I’m mildly guilty of doing that to my sisters, but wholly encourage my children to mispronounce things! My NW children call the theatre “thee-ay-ter”. I love it and think it makes them make me be more attracted to them.. which is sometimes necessary.. as they are always.. always there.

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