To clarify what we're talking about today:
PERIOD + SPACE
PERIOD + SPACE + SPACE
The last time I discussed this subject, I confused some folks who thought I was talking about double-spacing your paragraphs, as in, where there is an extra blank line in between each line of horizontal text, as opposed to the block spacing format this blog post uses. So, there, right off the bat I hope we're all on the same page (ha!) We're talking about adding (if you're in one camp) or subtracting (if you're in the other) a space after your final punctuation mark of each sentence.
I never thought I'd have to revisit this subject (I mean, is this really scintillating subject matter for anyone?) but today I came across this rather abusive article. So, clearly this author is taking a somewhat more nuanced approach to the subject than Farhad "FUCK THE WORLD I AM THE ARBITER OF ALL GOOD TASTE" Manjoo, but still not a kind one to the double-spacer camp.
So the Cult of Pedagogy article suggests that this matter is generational. Old fogies who grew up on slide rules, Victrolas, and typewriters, who still hilariously try to push the return bar on their computers, are the only ones who still double-space sentences. And young, hip, presumably urban Twitter-users who grew up on Facebook and don't know who Paul McCartney even WAS, man, are single-spacing their sentences.
So, if you read this article (which, God bless you if you could get through it without throwing your device on the ground) the author even admits that she never heard of this no-double-spacing so-called "rule" until 1999. Which means that the only people who might potentially have learned NOT to double space in formal writing are 15 or younger.
I supposedly am a Millennial. The oldest possible Millennial, but still. I never heard of this supposed rule change until 2012. Admittedly, I don't have kids in school and I'm not a teacher, so I wouldn't know what's being taught these days. But even assuming I'm stupendously out-of-touch (which I may be) then this no-double-spacing thing came into vogue at some point between '99 and '12. And Manjoo even admits in his article that it's still a matter of some contention, though he, of course, considers the debate moot.
I'm not going to relitigate this stupid discussion. I mean, feel free to in the comments if you want. I don't believe in prescriptivism in language, so it usually sticks in my craw when someone proclaims there is One True Way to English correctly.
But what it boils down to for me is that, like the Oxford comma, I see no good reason NOT to double space. It adds clarity and there are occasions when not doing it leads to confusion. The worst possible outcome of single-space construction (just like leaving off that last serial comma) is that the reader has to re-read something in order to understand it. But why make your reader do that?
And the only argument for it is...it's hip? You look like you're over 40 if you don't do it? Even though everyone over the age of 15 would've been taught that this was correct for formal writing?
After writing this entire blogpost, I drilled down into the comments on the Cult of Pedagogy article and discovered these three articles that essentially explode all of Manjoo's supposedly definitive and unassailable opinion piece. More food for thought, anyway.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)