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Double spaces make it easier to read  

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Ben Stone’s discussion of the Oxford comma and its history in the Aug .7 issue of the Valley Journal is very interesting. I am a writer and also like history.

The use of a comma before “and” in a list (like June, July, and August) is an Oxford comma. Its use seems to be a matter of choice and is apparently not controversial.

However, if you like to put two spaces between sentences you will be in the middle of a war. Most of us who grew up using typewriters with mono-spaced type were taught to use two spaces. Then along came computers with their proportionally spaced type fonts. Somewhere in the fantasy world of programming, some nerd decided to save memory space by claiming that using one space enhanced readability. Not so!

In my experience, using only one space is totally, completely, utterly and inarguably wrong. My readability is decreased. Many times I have read through several words of a new sentence before realizing I had missed that tiny little period (the size of punctuation is a separate topic), especially if the new sentence began with the personal pronoun, “I.”

Searching several articles on the subject, I discovered that the single-spacers are quite emphatic. Farhad Manjoo says, “Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly and inarguably wrong.”

That opinion is mild compared to one by a typographer, which Manjoo quotes, “When I see two spaces I shake my head and I go, aye yay yay,” she told me. “I talk about ‘type crimes’ often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment.”

These opponents of two spaces don’t mention readability, but endlessly discuss what’s “proper.”

As of April 2018, the American Psychological Association Manual states that two spaces should follow the punctuation at the end of a sentence. Several studies have suggested that initial processing of text is “facilitated” when periods are followed by two spaces.

So, let’s hear it for two spaces.

Dale Ferguson



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