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Are Your Writing Skills Up To Date?

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One space or two? Spoiler alert: It's one

Just because you've always done someone one particular way, doesn't mean you should continue to do it that way. Especially when everyone is telling you it's now the wrong way.

In several of my training programs, there is a module about keeping your skills up-to-date, and it always sparks an interesting conversation. The thing that usually prompts the most fervent debate is the issue of whether to use one period or two at the end of a sentence.

To end all debate: It is positively and unequivocally correct to use only one space between sentences.

Every major style guide, from the Modern Language Association Style Manual to the Chicago Manual of Style to Canadian Press's style guide all confirm that one space is correct.

Just because you learned to use two spaces when you were in school doesn't mean that is still correct today.

I was taught to use two spaces. Most of us were. Of course, we also used to talk and text on our cell phone when we drove, people smoked on airplanes and in restaurants, and we never used our seatbelts. I wouldn't do any of those things today because they are simply not okay anymore.

The reality is that if you are still clinging to the "two spaces" rule, you're just being stubborn. Your old habit is making you look out-of-date which, I'm sure, is exactly the opposite of the way you want to appear.

Fortunately, updating your style is not that difficult. You can easily set your preferences to remove that extra space when you insert it. You can also do a search-and-replace to remove any double spaces in your document after it's completed.

I've had this argument at least a hundred times, and I still find people who insist they are going to continue to use two spaces. I get silly excuses too, like, "when I use two spaces on my smart phone it automatically puts in a period and starts the next sentence." Yes, that is the quick way to end a sentence on your smart phone or tablet. But it also proves my point, because you'll notice that it leaves only one space at the end of the sentence.

If we always took the stubborn, "I'll never change" approach, we would never update our clothing style (it's not like you actually ever wear out your clothes, right?), our laws or our technology. Are you still using an Underwood typewriter to create documents? Of course not.

In fact, if we want to live in the past, then we should all still be happy to bring the boss "his" coffee and pick up his dry cleaning.

Fortunately, times have changed.

Don't be so stubborn that you make yourself look like an ancient artifact. Update your skills and keep on-the-right-track.

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