Punctuation Mishaps

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They say it takes 30 days to form a habit …


but how long does it take to rid yourself of a habit that’s 30+ years in the making?


I’m talking about punctuation. And a mistake I’ve unknowingly been making since I first learned to type. On a Selectric typewriter in high school.  It’s the hotly debated two spaces after a period habit.


When I type a period my thumb automatically lands on the space bar. And issues two taps.


Period. Tap. Tap.


Turns out I should cut those taps by 50%.  In half. Scale back to just a single tap.


I wonder how much time this whole single tap after a period will save me in the long run? If I add up all those no longer needed second taps on the space bar I could gain … like what? … 20 or 30 seconds a day?  A minute-and-a-half a week?  Half an hour a month? Six hours a year?


And all this single-space-after-a-period talk begs the question: How many spaces after a question mark? Or an explanation point?  I’ve been giving them two-thumb-on-space-bar taps …


must I abandon that practice as well?


If so, I think I may have just gained another hour each year!

Winking smile


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Just image all the possibilities I can do with all that spare time on my hands …


Now this is where I was going to share a link to the projects above that I’ve been teasing in photos, but it turns out I messed up.  And this guest post won’t go up until next week …

Linda signature-orange_thumb




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  1. says

    I’m of the belie that it will take me longer to remember to only put one then it will to eliminate the second space. Plus…is this really what we should be stressing about? I have to build that retirement fund before all tenured teachers are fired!!

  2. says

    Linda, you are too funny!…I learned to type on a manual typewriter (OK, so I am dating myself)…so instead of hitting that space bar twice, I just hit the “period key” a couple times..or maybe three…it keeps me back in the day….Love your clothespin wreath (tap, tap) Have a great weekend (tap tap)

  3. Louise DeSantis says

    Linda, new subscriber here: I need to know the provenance of this one-space rule. Since when do we not apply two spaces? I’m a former transcriptionist who has always adhered to the highest written word standards that I know; I’ve frowned upon my children’s use of only one space after a period–imagine only one space after a period in all the school papers they’ve written! –But if this is the new and improved, I guess I’d like to know the wherefrom and therefore. Thank you,

  4. Louise DeSantis says

    Hi, Linda, it’s me (Louise) again with a question in another area. I thought your website would be a good place to find instructions on how to make a paper banner, the kind people hang from a mantel. I will be visiting a friend for two weeks, he has a birthday during that time, and I”d like to do a birthday banner for him. Do you happen to have banner instructions from the past? Greatly appreciated–Louise

  5. says

    Linda! You better hurry – before Kirby reads this – and change explanation point to exclamation point!!!!! :) I’ve been trying to take out that extra space for a while now. Ever since I read someones self-righteous blog post about it. I guess all of us who learned to type on a typewriter (manual for me) learned the two space thing. Could this be a first-world problem????

  6. says

    I’m with you on the two taps to the space bar – that’s the rule – two spaces after the punctuation at the end of a sentence! I had no idea it was not supposed to be that way anymore! But come to think of it – kids today don’t use any punctuation and the spelling is going by the wayside too. texting is in and typeing is out.

  7. says

    I just can’t do it. (tap tap) Who even changed this rule in the first place? (tap tap) My kids told me a couple of years ago that I shouldn’t do that anymore. (tap, tap) How do you stop something that you don’t even think about while doing? (tap, tap) Like breathing? (tap, tap) Ain’t gonna happen! (tap, tap)

  8. Betty says

    The single space after a period started in the late 90s. Yes, it has been around that long. :) (It took me forever to get used to it.) When doing word processing, that extra space makes a huge difference in appearance and, believe it or not, sticks out like a sore thumb in a legal document. That said, use two if that’s what you are used to – who really cares in the grand scheme of life? Enjoy yourself. That’s what life is all about! :)

  9. says

    Ha- I use two or one- whatever. It depends on how I’m feeling when I type. But my habit is two. I don’t feel that old – however I did learn to type on a manual & kept one on hand up until a year ago. Really – if someone has enough time to count my spaces between sentences- more power to them. :)

  10. says

    I always did two spaces until my daughters started saying they didn’t teach it that way anymore. It took me SO long to stop doing it! Any time I saved I quickly learned to waste elsewhere. :)

  11. says

    My mother gave me a large, classic, used Smith Corona typewriter when I was 10. I don’t know why. I am a writer, though not the one she imagined (mostly academic). I can’t get rid of that extra space both as a mechanical habit (of over 50 years) and as an aesthetic. It just DONT LOOK RIGHT!!!!! I think this can be fixed with a search and replace maneuver. But not by me! I can’t change a half-century-plus habit at this point.

  12. Connie says

    Two spaces made sense on a typewriter when every character took up the same amount of space. One space makes sense with proportional type, which is what computers use—unless you choose one of the montotype fonts.

    For those who want a source, read “The Mac (or PC) is not a typewriter” by Robins Williams.

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