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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Even the rules of grammar change over time.
Even the rules of grammar change over time.

What comes after your period?

I first learned about periods in elementary school.

When I got a little older, I learned what comes after periods.

At some point between then and now, somebody changed what comes after periods.

And no one told me about it.

At some point between Mrs. Berg's typing class at Pewaukee High School in 1981 and today, somebody changed the rule about how many times you hit the space bar after typing a period.

Mrs. Berg taught us to double-space after a period. So, for the last 30 years, I have been following that rule.

An online column I read last week indicated you are supposed to single-space.

What?

When did this happen?

I was shocked not only about the fact that the double-space rule had been overturned, but even more so about the fact that I had never heard about it.

How did I miss this?

Was I sick the day this was announced?

Was I gone on vacation?

I have worked in communications my entire career. Granted, much of that was in the verbal communication arena. Still, I have done plenty of writing. I've worked side-by-side with people who write for a living. How did this never come up even once in conversation?

I had to find out when and how this happened, so I did some research. I discovered that every typographer, the people who study and design the typewritten word, agrees on the single-space rule.

I learned that the whole double-space thing got going with manual typewriters. They used monospaced type, which means each character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. Monospaced type, or fonts, left quite a bit of space between certain characters, so in many cases it was difficult for the eye to quickly identify where one sentence ended and the next began. The double-space rule was born to make this easier.

Monospaced fonts were then eliminated with the invention of the electric typewriter, and later, the computer. Since then, we have had proportional fonts. That is, letters that take up only the space they need. Because of this, double-spacing after periods is not necessary. More than that, it's wrong.

OK, I can get on board. But, I can't help wondering who was responsible for telling me about this?

Should there have been a notice included in the box that my first computer came in? Do typographers need a better public relations firm? Should there have been a special report on one of the 24-hour cable news channels?

I'd like to apologize to those at OnMilwaukee.com who have been editing the pieces I have submitted. I'm guessing you have recognized that I, up until now, have been an unenlightened double-spacer. I will do what I can to break this habit.

But I'm not sure my thumb is going to get the hang of it.

Talkbacks

sandstorm | Feb. 14, 2011 at 8:36 a.m. (report)

Publicviewer's post has to be post of the year thus far.
Publicviewer has made dozens of grammar errors in a missive condemning another person's errors.
yeah, i make errors too, and i don't have much use for the the shift button.
i may also call out the occasional error if it amuses me, but 5 paragraphs of errors all handed down from somebody that thinks they wrote the AP stylebook is freakin' hilarious.

"You also have no clue where to place and how to use comma's.."

this was just one of my favorites!

keep up the good work Publicviewer!
you've mad me laugh, and that's something!

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shineongal | Feb. 12, 2011 at 4:46 p.m. (report)

Thanks for the fun fact! I may not be able to break the habit.

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Pete. | Feb. 12, 2011 at 12:53 a.m. (report)

As a kid in the 90s, I was also taught to use two spaces after a paragraph. I had heard that the practice changed to one space, but two spaces are permanently ingrained in my brain. There's no way I could change now.

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buck | Feb. 11, 2011 at 3:41 p.m. (report)

Definitely not what I thought this article would be about when I saw "What comes after your period..." on the home page.

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PublicViewer | Feb. 11, 2011 at 3:06 p.m. (report)

I have to admit I'm unsure of who actually wrote this nonsense since the only author on this page is Craig Koplien, and since this is so, here is to you Craig:

Are you seriously for real? How did you ever get employment writing? It's just not the material one writes about but their grammar skills, too, and you have no grammar skills except for perhaps knowing to end a sentence with a period. I've never read your crap before but even this material is not worthy of being written about or addressed; especially for a business website to promote.

You don't begin sentences with: and, but, and so. You also don't create one-sentence paragraphs either when they all run together and should be one whole paragraph. You also have no clue where to place and how to use comma's, and you also don't have a clue how to comprehend your material to either flow or separate in forming proper paragraphs.

What you seem to me is lazy, and now trying to place blame on a lazy and uneducated generation that would only love to lower the standards because they themselves cannot meet higher and appropriate standards.

There is no way you would be hired under me, and no way I wouldn't fire you if I suddenly became your boss. This market is just too competitive for jobs right now to keep a job from someone that actually deserves to be placed because of their skills and integrity.

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