In which I deplore double-spacing…

First, when I say double-space I am not referring to the space between lines a la leading (Wikipedia definition ahoy). I am talking about the double-space after a full point. Otherwise known as the bloody bane of my life.

My life has other banes: people who walk very slowly in front of me; when my expensive new foundation fails (yet again) to keep the shiny from my big stupid forehead; and when I am trying to set text in *Word Styles and it Just. Won’t. Work.

Double-spacing after full points really does get my goat though.

Now I know this is going to annoy some people. And others are going to call me a loser for caring (feel free, btw, that’s what the comments box is for). Or ask me what difference it makes; that they were taught to double-space by X, Y or Z and it’s easy to do a “search and replace” to remove all the double-spacing. For the most part, this is true.

A “search and replace” can remove all double-spaces. And that is perfectly acceptable if you have a straight up and down manuscript with no/some formatting (either proficiently or inexpertly applied). I can only speak from my experience, but sometimes authors use the spacebar instead of tabs to indent important elements of the story, designate a quote or the like. This are things that editors mightn’t see until further down the manuscript and if you do a “search and replace” at the start of the edit (which I like to do in order to avoid the double-space rage), you can lose these important stylistic pointers.

Another point against using the old “search and replace” (which I love, btw, v.handy) is that in non-fiction, professional titles (hello day job! Um, well, only job really) one may be working on a loose leaf title (like a ring binder that allows pages to be removed and inserted easily so that the information in the title is up to date, which is updated regularly). This title may have specific formatting because it has to be published online. This specific formatting may include double-spacing as a necessity. Thus, a search and replace will not help me, it will in fact irritate the crap out of me and mean I have to work with invisibles on and remove each bloody double-space individually. Sweet mother of the divine jeebus…

The thing with all of this is it’s such a little thing. It is a tiny thing, and it really doesn’t matter. But it does irritate. **Me, specifically. And everyone else I work with. I wonder if this is just a non-fiction/professional publishing bug-bear?

*Word Styles is the devil, and I sincerely wish that none of you ever have to use it. Or if you do use it that you have a zillion times more success with it than I ever have.

** Also, a huge amount of self-editing and restraint went into this…I really just wanted to scream “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it! Why? Because I said so!!” in the fashion of my mother. Be proud of me…


8 Comments on “In which I deplore double-spacing…”

  1. nettiewriter says:

    I am rather frightened of you now, Ciara! And I am running off to remove all my double spaces.
    Ok, I’m not. But I’ll think about not doing it again!

    P.S. When did you move to WordPress? This is MUCH nicer 🙂

    • Muddled says:

      If I just make one writer stop with the double-spaces, it will all have been worth it…*wipes away a tear*

      I was always on wordpress, I changed the theme though and added the Red Pen of Accuracy picture! Glad you like it! x

  2. Lev Parikian says:

    Oh crikey. The beast awakes. Please note extremely self-conscious single spacing in this comment.

    • Muddled says:

      Oops, have I misjudged to amount of rage I put into the post? Or was it the ** comment at the end that did it? Either way, I congratulate you on the single spacing…long may it continue!

      It might just be me, I am aware of that. But these minutiae really are discussed in all seriousness in the office (and we love it!) and they do make me scream (quietly) from time to time.

  3. Kay Sexton says:

    As a person who has just blogged about causing a temporal singularity through writing too many words in a day, I fully sympathise with you. Or I don’t. Mainly because I am one of those old school typists who was taught on a manual typewriter that was hidden in a plywood box so I never look at the keys and ALWAYS double space after a full stop.

    But I do try and remember to do my own search and replace before sending out my mss. And when I don’t I am properly contrite.

  4. You are one scary lady. But if it’s any consolation I never heard of double-spacing after a full stop until I got onto twitter.,

  5. Mr Uku says:

    I sympathise entirely.
    I once had a stand up row in college with a woman who tried to tell me I should be double spacing after each full stop. She just wouldn’t believe that she was an idiot.
    Eventually I just walked away and left her…lying there.

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