A writing pet peeve of mine
Updated: May 22, 2018
Okay, I hate to write a second post in a row that’s a bit of a rant but bear with me.
I have very few pet peeves when it comes to writing. I’m not as much of a grammar Nazi as I should be, because my grammar is not always great; bad spelling doesn’t irritate me, since I’m not always a great speller myself; I don’t always aim for perfection in writing, because characters don’t always speak perfectly, and perfect writing can come off as a bit stiff. Some of the best writing doesn’t follow the rules.
However, if you are going to send out work to be published, or even publish it yourself, there is one thing you should (in my opinion) avoid entirely. Something that will make your work seem polished and ready to go.
My pet peeve doesn’t even have so much to do with writing, but it kind of does, so I might as well talk about it.
Also, I needed to post something. I paid $30 for this website, and by God, I’m going to get my money’s worth!
Okay, here it is:
Double-spacing after periods.
It. Drives. Me. Crazy.
Maybe it comes from me working in production in a newspaper—if documents are sent to us with double-spaces, we have to manually remove them. Maybe it comes from my previous experience in trying to self-publish, when I had to remove my own double-spacing after periods. It’s such a tedious thing to do, and I hate it.
The reason for this is because, when using a program to design the publication, like Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher, those double-spaces mess with the spacing in the design document meant for publication. The future is now! Those programs have tools for kerning and leading; you don’t need to make spacing for them. If those double-spaces are left in, the publication (again, in my opinion) looks weird. So they get removed.
Now, I know some people have their reasons for double-spacing. In ye-olden-days of typewriters, double-spacing after periods was a requirement. So for older writers, it’s a habit. I get it.
The younger folks, however, do it to make their papers longer for class.
And again, I get it: I’m a lazy student, too. Sometimes I get wrung dry, too. If you have to meet a certain page count, and double spacing after periods helps you meet that page count, I understand the temptation.
However, I’ve seen a lot of double-spacing after periods in some of my writing classes. Like, enough to be concerning. If it were any other class, I’d probably bite my tongue and let it go, but when other writers do it, I have a tendency to jump onto my soap-box.
Here’s why: in the writing world, submissions don’t go by page count, they go by word count. If you’ve only written 40,000 words, and the publisher requires 50,000 words, double-spacing after periods will not help you. If you are short word count, you need to write more words.
So as a writer in today’s age, I feel like this should be some common knowledge for you. If you’re an older writer who still does this, I’ll give you some leeway. However, I really recommend getting out of the habit of it. I know it will be hard, but so many graphic designers out there will thank you. And who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?
If you’re a younger person, however, aspiring to be a writer and have resorted to this in the past in order to make your pieces appear longer, stop. Don’t even get in the habit of it. Double-spacing after periods in today’s publishing age is just a waste of time, for both the writer and the publishers.
So. Don’t double-space after periods.