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Period Space Space wants to be Period Space
July 17, 2010 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Short of electro-hypno-shark therapy, any reccomendations to help a typist lose their two spaces after every period addiction?

Back when I was a wee little lad, I was taught typing by a gentleman who'd been teaching typing for a very long time. On typewriters. So, as I was at that young and impressionable age, my muscle memory is trained to throw two spaces after every period. See, I'm even trying conciously trying to not do this right now, and my fingers are like nuh-uh.

So, outside of sighing everytime my spellcheck glares at me for only that issue -- yes, I'm that awesome -- cough, kidding, any ideas?
posted by cavalier to Computers & Internet (47 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It just takes practice. I was a double-spacer for a long time, but I eventually learned to change it. You can, though, do a replace all of "[space space]" with "[space]" to fix it, after you've written something (and really, you should do that twice, because occasionally three spaces in a row will pop up somewhere...
posted by brainmouse at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2010


I've never broken myself of this habit either. When I was editing my school paper, though, I would just do a find-and0-replace as the last . You could probably set up some sort of auto-correct for it as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2010


I know this puts me in typographic the minority, but I like the look of two spaces after a period, even with modern proportional fonts.
posted by fremen at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2010 [21 favorites]


trying consciously trying. EVEN THE TRYING'S ARE DOUBLED AHHH!
posted by cavalier at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2010


Depending on the software, you can probably "teach" spellcheck to not highlight it.

Also, a "electro-hypno-shark" sounds really scary. I'm staying away from the beach if those are gonna be out!

posted by drjimmy11 at 1:51 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you do any programming or know anyone who does it probably would be pretty simple to create something that watches the keyboard for two spaces in a row and plays a buzzer sound every time it catches that.

It might also be possible to configure some generic software to do this like a keylogger or software that lets you customize keyboard shortcuts.
posted by XMLicious at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2010


Two spaces a typing convention. The only justication for chaning to one space, the current convention, is speed of keyboarding. Do what feels right for you. You will not be put in a time-out corner if you use two rather than one space.
posted by Postroad at 2:23 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm frequently amazed by the difference that deliberate practice makes. Ten minutes of sitting down and typing for this sole purpose is worth hours of typing with goal just in the background. Pull up something to copy--the Constitution, say--and type slowly with great focus, gradually getting faster.

I fear that's super obvious and probably not very helpful, but that's the only way I know how to do it. Maybe do it while fleeing from a bear so the adrenaline helps memory formation?

(On preview: I would argue that it is more than just typing convention. While using monospace fonts it can go either way, but with proportional width fonts one space is preferable. The overwhelming majority of professionally prepared text will use one space because it looks way better.)
posted by kprincehouse at 2:34 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I made this switch in the last year. I'm a decently fast typist (~70 wpm), and I just had to start thinking about the single space and making that my mental priority when typing anything. It only took a week or two of THINKING about it before it became automatic.

You could also just turn off the "check grammar" feature in Word or whatever you are using. Spacing "errors" only show up if the grammar feature is enabled.
posted by jeoc at 2:54 PM on July 17, 2010


I would add that, in addition to just "thinking" about not doing it as you type, if you catch yourself doing it, even in a casual note to yourself or email, make yourself stop mid-sentence and correct it right then. I've been a transcriptionist for many years and occasionally there comes along a word that I either misspell or mistype every time I type it. That's how I've re-trained myself, by making myself stop and fix it right then (not waiting and letting spellcheck find it and correct it). The aggravation of having to stop mid-thought and fix it helps you remember not to do it!
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 3:05 PM on July 17, 2010


I turned off just that error in Word spellcheck. I only have to remember when I do a new install at work. I put double spaces in while using my Blackberry, even (i.e. right now.) I say don't try.

If you insist, though, I second deliberate practice. I like to type to a metronome or wordless music when I need to slow myself (for RSI reasons, mainly.)
posted by SMPA at 3:10 PM on July 17, 2010


I'm confused. Why are two spaces bad?
posted by bolognius maximus at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very similar question here for some further reading.
posted by Menthol at 3:34 PM on July 17, 2010


I'm confused. Why are two spaces bad?

It's not bad, it's considered archaic. On typewriters it existed to create greater visual distinctiveness for certain punctuation marks. It's fallen out of favour, not because of proportional fonts exactly, but just because typewriter specific habits are no longer required.

In anything for the web, don't worry about using two spaces--sequential whitespace is almost always collapsed into a single displayed space. Unless you're submitting papers for publication, it's really not an issue.
posted by fatbird at 3:41 PM on July 17, 2010


Why change? You can just keep the habit and run a search-and-replace in most software to get rid of the doubles. Or get an iPad and just type on that for a while; double spaces are automatically converted to periods, and that will retrain you via sheer annoyance.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 3:42 PM on July 17, 2010


I learned to type back in the day when we used typewriters and were taught to leave two spaces after a period. I had to re-train myself in grad school, when no one used typewriters anymore and one space was preferred after a period. It took conscious practice, but I managed to re-train myself--I think it took a month or so of deliberate effort, but now I am used to it and have been doing it for the last 15 years or so. It can be done!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:52 PM on July 17, 2010


I'm confused. Why are two spaces bad?
It's also against the formatting rules of some style guides, like APA.

posted by emilyd22222 at 3:58 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nthing the "just start doing it" comments. I spent fourth through eighth grade in typing classes that demanded two spaces after the period (on computer programs that would mark single spaces as errors, no less), then received my first paper in freshman English back with giant red circles around every extra space. I adapted very quickly.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 4:00 PM on July 17, 2010


I had to retrain myself when I realized that typing two spaces and then running search/replace took longer than just sucking it up and changing the muscle memory (and my employer billed me out by project, not by hours, so slowness cost us money). I did it the way that kprincehouse suggests, copying a known text and scoring myself for each doublespace until I was reliably below 10%.

However, I still miss typing on an IBM Selectric II.
posted by catlet at 4:03 PM on July 17, 2010


I learned typing the old-fashioned way, on typewriters. It was some time in the early 90s when I read The Mac is Not a Typewriter and realized the error of my ways. I wish I could tell you what the magic trick was to undo this, but I can't remember at this point in my life. But yes, it can be done.
posted by O9scar at 4:12 PM on July 17, 2010


I'm confused. Why are two spaces bad?

Yeah, I feel the same way. In the age of the text message it seems to me that most people have abbandoned form for speed, which has the overall effect of making our written communication just plain ugly in a lot of cases. It's really not that big of a deal, but I have this irrational concern that if I start giving up on the traditional formatting rules I'll slippery slope into some terrible habits (or at least, worse habits than I already have).

U no wht i mean lol?
posted by Menthol at 4:53 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Once again, AutoHotKey to the rescue.
Using this solution, you don't need to unlearn your behaviour. Install AutoHotKey, then create an autoreplacer.ahk script just with the following line:

:?*:. ::.{space}
(note that there are two spaces between that period and the colon)

This script does nothing if you just type a period and space after it. But it instantly damps out the doublespace after you've typed it so it looks like you just typed a single space. Works in any application - email, Word, Excel, web browser, whatever. Windows only, AFAIK. Life's too short to unlearn something like this. Just let the computer take care of it and be happy.

Questionmark directive explained here - allows the hotstring to be triggered even in the middle (or at the end of) another word.
posted by tra at 4:59 PM on July 17, 2010


be. a. prude. and. put. a. period. and. space. everywhere. until. it's. just. another. letter.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:05 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still like two spaces. It makes most text, especially on the web, scan better.

Don't listen to those lazy one-spacers.  Two is better.

(Check those last paragraphs carefully and see which you prefer.)
posted by Aquaman at 5:14 PM on July 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


seconding kprincehouse's suggestion to spend some focused time just typing something out -- but don't choose the constitution. choose a work of writing you really admire. then you are subtly improving your own writing skills, too, by teaching your brain and body what it's like to type out really good prose (says my old psychology prof).
posted by nevers at 5:53 PM on July 17, 2010


I still do two spaces. To hell with style guides.

If you're doing something for publication which requires it, use search/replace after.
posted by cj_ at 6:00 PM on July 17, 2010


Many text editors let you auto-replace certain strings. I setup Outlook and Word to automatically change two spaces to one....
posted by gregr at 6:04 PM on July 17, 2010


I prefer two spaces. To me this is just a stylistic choice. Some professors may prefer one space, in which case adapt in that specific instance. Otherwise, do whatever you want. I think it looks a little more polished and is easier for me to read.

Why do you feel that it's so necessary to change?
posted by fso at 6:04 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just because it's old-school doesn't make it bad -- obviously, I like two spaces (and two hyphens).

For me, it seems to help enforce the notion that a sentence should be a complete statement, able to stand on its own. (Otoh, it may be contributing to my paralyzing slowness in constructing a complete message, so there's that..)
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 6:04 PM on July 17, 2010


It's also against the formatting rules of some style guides, like APA.

I think the APA (and many others) are guilty of throwing away the baby with the bathwater.  Forget about terminology (archaic vs. modern, old vs. new, conservative vs. liberal), forget about doing it just because that's how it's always been done vs. not doing it because that's how it was always done.  Just from a purely practical, non-aesthetic, totally pragmatic analysis it should be fairly easy to tell if period-space-space is better than period-space… perhaps speed reading tests, perhaps comprehension tests, however you want to do it doesn't matter.  I would bet dollars to donuts that period-space-space is far easier to read & comprehend than period-space because it gives additional emphasis for your brain to pick apart sentences in paragraphs.  If you're the kind of person that writes in endless run-ons like myself, the benefits are likely less pronounced.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:08 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two spaces are a good thing.&nbsp It looks better and is more easily readable in almost all fonts.&nbsp(The particularly wide or non-proportional fonts being the exception.)&nbsp It allows the eye to differentiate punctuation better.&nbsp One space = a pause in a sentence, two space = a pause in a paragraph.&nbsp The lack of two spaces looks sloppy, the equivalent of not putting a blank line after a paragraph ends.

I'd wager that when most people hand write something, they put in more space after a period than a comma.

or

Two spaces are a good thing. It looks better and is more easily readable in almost all fonts. (The particularly wide or non-proportional fonts being the exception.) It allows the eye to differentiate punctuation better. One space = a pause in a sentence, two space = a pause in a paragraph. The lack of two spaces looks sloppy, the equivalent of not putting a blank line after a paragraph ends.

I'd wager that when most people hand write something, they put in more space after a period than a comma.
posted by gjc at 6:15 PM on July 17, 2010


Argh! Utter fail. It worked, and looked beautiful, in the preview.
posted by gjc at 6:16 PM on July 17, 2010


For example, here's a random excerpt from an SAT practice test. The first follows the "modern," punctuation-space style. The second uses the "archaic" form with two spaces. Which is easier to read? Which do your eyes gravitate towards naturally before even reading?

punctuation-space…
The study of history provides many benefits. First, we learn from the past. We may repeat mistakes, but, at least, we have the opportunity to avoid them. Second, history teaches us what questions to ask about the present. Contrary to some people’s view, the study of history is not the memorization of names, dates, and places. It is the thoughtful examination of the forces that have shaped the courses of human life. We can examine events from the past and then draw inferences about current events. History teaches us about likely outcomes.

Another benefit of the study of history is the broad range of human experience which is covered. War and peace are certainly covered as are national and international affairs. However, matters of culture (art, literature, and music) are also included in historical study. Human nature is an important part of history: emotions like passion, greed, and insecurity have influenced the shaping of world affairs. Anyone who thinks that the study of history is boring has not really studied history.
punctuation-space-space…
The study of history provides many benefits.  First, we learn from the past.  We may repeat mistakes, but, at least, we have the opportunity to avoid them.  Second, history teaches us what questions to ask about the present.  Contrary to some people’s view, the study of history is not the memorization of names, dates, and places.  It is the thoughtful examination of the forces that have shaped the courses of human life.  We can examine events from the past and then draw inferences about current events.  History teaches us about likely outcomes.

Another benefit of the study of history is the broad range of human experience which is covered.  War and peace are certainly covered as are national and international affairs.  However, matters of culture (art, literature, and music) are also included in historical study.  Human nature is an important part of history: emotions like passion, greed, and insecurity have influenced the shaping of world affairs.  Anyone who thinks that the study of history is boring has not really studied history.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:17 PM on July 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Looks like someone else had the same idea. But I got my  s right.

Utter fail. It worked, and looked beautiful, in the preview.

There's your problem right there. When you preview, your beautifully-crafted  s are turned into spaces. When you subsequently submit, goodbye html entities.

For example, all my  s have escaped &s (and that & over there? That's &&!) Hehe.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:22 PM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


One reason for not doing two spaces is that it tends to send the message that you are someone who learned to type on a typewriter, not a computer. In some professions, ageism is rampant, and this might well be something you would like to avoid.

I've always found habits like these are much easier to break than you imagine. I agree that typing something like the Constitution of a few pages of a book you enjoy is probably all you need to get rebooted, then consciously make the switch in your regular typing.
posted by unSane at 6:54 PM on July 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


How can there even be a question about this after the clear example of Civil_Disobedient's post staring you in the face?

That's a QED if I've ever seen one.
posted by Aquaman at 7:23 PM on July 17, 2010


The fact that we have a space as a character at all is an irritant. It should merely exist to mark boundaries between words — hey, in ASCII, it's on the boundary of the control codes and punctuation; that should be a clue. In English, it is conventional to set a space approximately 1½× the width of the word spacing for that line at the end of a sentence. The old monospaced typewriter couldn't do this, so it became a convention to put two spaces after a full stop.

In French, the full stop gets no such extra space. Curiously, though, some punctuation (the only one I can remember is the colon) gets a thin space before it.

Most computer applications don't set text properly. Your browser doesn't. Word certainly doesn't. Your two-space convention looks weird, so search and replace and AutoCorrect is your friend.

Oh, and Civil_Disobedient's post suffers from horrid rivers in the text. Bad bad bad.
posted by scruss at 8:05 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Back to the original question...

If you use Word(tm) a lot, use AutoCorrect to teach yourself a lesson. Go into "AutoCorrect Options..." in the "Tools" menu, and teach it a new one:

Replace 'double space' (can't literally type it here)
With " STOP TYPING DOUBLE SPACES! " (literally).

After you have to go back and delete the annoying reminder a few dozen times, you will change your habit.

I'm not joking. It will work. Fast.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:13 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I still put two spaces after a period in my text messages. It's lonely, wondering if you're the only one who has used a semicolon in a text message without it being part of a winking emoticon, but I have the grim satisfaction of knowing I'm right, damn them all, to console me.
posted by adipocere at 11:10 PM on July 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


If the APA is against it, then I'm all for it. (And tiny commuter cars are not cool no matter how much ugly crap you add or how big the coffee can is on the tailpipe.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:34 AM on July 18, 2010


Civil_Disobedient's post suffers from horrid rivers in the text. Bad bad bad.

Not seeing rivers here. But then I'm a double-spacing throwback, so I'm probably biased.
posted by anemone at 4:20 AM on July 18, 2010


Seconding the idea of simply practicing single-spacing until it becomes more natural, followed by a search and replace when you're done.

The overwhelming majority of professionally prepared text will use one space because it looks way better.

It's probably fairer to say that the overwhelming majority of professionally prepared text is typeset rather than word-processed, so how many spaces were after each period in the typscript is irrelevant and unknown.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:14 AM on July 18, 2010


How can there even be a question about this after the clear example of Civil_Disobedient's post staring you in the face?

Type designers throughout history, from Gutenburg to Zapf, have labored specifically to eliminate exactly the spacing you see in that post. The goal is a gray page.
posted by rlk at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2010


That's typesetting. We're talking about typing, where there is no 1-and-a-half spacebar.
posted by Aquaman at 10:15 AM on July 18, 2010


I know I say this often on MetaFilter, but I love you all in a very real and internet way. This has been a fun read! Christ, did I just put three spaces on that last period?
posted by cavalier at 6:50 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


(yay html scrubbing)
posted by cavalier at 6:51 PM on July 18, 2010


Ouch. I'm a 2-spacer and even I have to admit Civil Disobedient's second example looked like shit. Have I been wrong all along? I suspect so.

I'd like to point out, though, that he had to go out of his way to use non-breaking space entities to get the effect. Modern browsers make it look pretty either way.
posted by cj_ at 7:51 PM on July 18, 2010


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