Saturday, May 27, 2017

Double Spaces after a Period - UGH! NOVA this week

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

I wasn’t going to post NOVA this week. I hadn’t come up with a topic, and I have a book entry later today anyway, but then something happened at work that I am going to use this space to vent about.

I’m a writer of sorts for a government agency. It’s boring day job stuff, not accessible to the public, but published material nonetheless. As such, it is seriously scrutinized before publication: peer reviewed, senior reviewed, editor reviewed.

I am fortunate that current standards align pretty well with certain little pet peeves of mine. I posted here not long ago about the Oxford Comma. I’m an advocate and so are my editors, so we’re all happy.

Another little writing thingy – one of those thingys that are not clear cut right or wrong thingys, but can go either way, matter of style preference thingys: to add or not add, an “s” to possessive nouns ending in “s”.

I love Dickens’ novels  vs  I love Dickens’s novels.

For the record, I do not like adding another “s”. Well, that isn’t quite true. I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate it. It sounds awkward to speak it, and it looks silly to write it, and I just hate it.

Style guides vary though. Again, I am fortunate that my editors don’t like the extra “s” either.

But alas, they have one preference that is just…ugh!

Two spaces after a period. I KNOW…RIGHT?! WHO DOES THIS?! It is the 21st century, we are not TYPING on IBM Selectrics. Word processors actually put in a little extra amount of space after a period. Two spaces after a period is unnecessary, and what’s more, it is totally STUPID!

I’ve put up with this silliness for years, but something made me think we were sort of letting this go…so I submitted a paper just yesterday without the stupid double spaces. But no, my bosses boss sent it back insisting on the double spaces.

She’s not an unreasonable person though and I decided I was not going to give up so easy. I made my way to her office and we discussed it. To be honest it was playfully combative, but she actually conceded that if our senior editor approved she would capitulate. I got not only the senior editor to approve, but I also produced the Chicago Style Guide which unequivocally states against the double space. (I have to be careful using the Chicago Style Guide though, because it goes against some of my other pet peeves.) In this case though it served and I won!

Yay! Small victories…gotta take em and enjoy em when ya can get em.

Until some petty bureaucrat produced the AGENCY writing guide – 2017 revision even – that clearly states two spaces after a period.


So, if you ever notice double spaces after a period on this blog – it’s an occupational hazard.


  1. Double spaces after a period - this definitely feels like an odd and outdated rule! I'm glad you managed a victory on that front. :) I'm also a big advocate of the Oxford comma (not least to avoid awkward explanations necessitated by sentences such as "this book is dedicated to my parents, Mother Theresa and the pope"), and for not putting and extra 's' after apostrophes. It always looks a little messy to me.

  2. I cannot break my own habit of double spacing after a period. Current style is now single space and have so much trouble not automatically double spacing. On the other hand, I'm with you on the Oxford comma and no extra s--it's Dickens' works not the other way!

    1. That habit can indeed be hard to break, which is why I wanted to change the policy at get out of the habit :)


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