Namely, the first time I’ve ever endorsed Microsoft’s view on just about anything.
Microsoft has settled the great space debate, and sided with everyone who believes one space after a period is correct, not two. The software giant has started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period (a full stop for you Brits) as an error, and to offer a correction to one space. Microsoft recently started testing this change with the desktop version of Word, offering suggestions through the Editor capabilities of the app.
Much of the debate around one space or two has been fueled by the halcyon days of the typewriter. Typewriters used monospaced fonts to allocate the same amount of horizontal spacing to every character. Narrow characters like “i” got the same amount of space as “m,” so the extra space after the “.” was needed to make it more apparent that sentences had ended. Word and many other similar apps make fonts proportional, so two spaces is no longer necessary.
That hasn’t stopped the battle over one space or two from raging on for decades, however. A study on the hotly contested issue supposedly handed the victory to the two-spacers back in 2018, but many questioned the research and it clearly wasn’t enough to convince Microsoft. Expect to see the new changes in Word roll out to everyone in the coming months. Congratulations, fellow one-spacers.
The biggest problem I have with double-spacing is that the people who actually use it are wildly inconsistent. There are a handful of sites I regularly troll for blog-fodder (American Thinker comes to mind) whose articles are double-spaced…mostly. But in just about every double-spaced article you find out there, it’s a stylistic guideline honored more in the breach. Which means I either have to leave the thing as it stands—inconsistent and sloppy-looking, which irks the living hell out of me—or eyeball the excerpt closely and correct all that irritating laxity myself.
Which of course I do. Of course, I also occasionally (okay, frequently) miss something myself, sometimes spotting it later when I go back to check the post again. In such cases, I usually have no qualm whatsoever about making the correction, which is a felony-level infraction of the long-standing blogger protocol which dictates that publishing a post is analagous to engraving it into a stone tablet. Of course, I give not a single damn about that; spelling or grammatical errors, typos, even muddled phrasing are all subject to adjustment if and when I catch ’em. I make no apologies for that. My blog, my rules, dammit.
The third-party posting software I use has a setting that auto-saves and auto-publishes periodically, which I didn’t even know about until relatively recently. This meant that posts would be uploaded and published on the site prematurely, before I had even finished writing them. Throw in my habit of starting a post, getting partway through it and leaving the window open as a reminder to finish the thing eventually—you would not even BELIEVE the number of incomplete and now-abandoned posts I have still sitting in my posting app—and then coming back to it hours or even days later, and it adds up to a serious potential for confusion and disaster.
Trivial matters all, to be sure. But maybe Microsoft’s decision to walk away from the archaic double-space standard will lighten my burden at least somewhat.