With regards to

Should you use two spaces after a period, or just a single one?

which has a so called "cross-site duplicate" at:

http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/2544/how-many-spaces-should-come-after-a-period-full-stop

I'll refer you to an article used as an answer in one of the highest voted answers on the English site:

You'd expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you'd be wrong; every third e-mail I get from readers includes the two-space error.

Note that Farhad did not say English here. He said typing.

And that's my whole point.

I don't think the rules of English language and grammar apply to mechanical (borderline typography, really) issues of how much physical space should go after a period.

I'm fine with this question existing on English as a variant applied to a different audience (rules wonks versus people who place words on a page for a living), but to argue that the rules of English language and grammar capture typography or the different technologies used to compose and render text on the page ... is a bit much.

How does the content on this site differ from the English Stack Exchange site?

This site focuses on writing style and technique

  1. Whether you use one or two spaces after a period is at least as much a matter of writing style as whether you write poetry like ee cummings, in all lower case.

  2. It is also a matter of editing and proofreading standards, which is explicitly on topic for this site per the http://writers.stackexchange.com/faq

  3. The mechanical act of typing and typesetting is far more relevant to writers than English rules wonks.

So, in my opinion: this question is, if anything, more on topic here than on English -- but I don't think having the two perspectives on this matter from the two very different audiences is a bad thing, either.

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Personally I think the question does belong in English.SE, that being said I don't think it's to far off topic if it's part of a larger question in regards to standard manuscript formatting. –  Fox Cutter Feb 9 '11 at 19:30
    
@fox "Writers - Stack Exchange is for authors, editors, reviewers, bloggers, copywriters, professional and aspiring writers" surely editors and reviewers would care about this typing rule? Should I put two spaces after my handwritten English sentence periods, too? Ah yes, it has nothing to do with English, but rather typing.. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 10 '11 at 1:06

2 Answers 2

When I read the "two spaces" question on Writers, I was surprised, that people could do this. But I shrugged the shoulders and thought "Must be an English specialty" and went on.

Now I googled and it looks like I'm right. I cannot find any evidence, that a similar rule existed for German writing. The only places I found it on German web sites were translated English sites or suggestions for writing in English (or foreign language courses).

So I think it is best suited for English.SE, even so I don't care that it is also on Writers.SE. It is an old spacing rule for the English language when using typewriters. Look at the dash. In German there is a space before and after the dash, in English there is no space, neither before, nor after. It's a punctuation question best suited for English.SE.

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ok, so what do typewriters have to do with the rules of the English language? Surely sending telegrams have their own rules about how text should be formatted, and faxes too. I don't see how technology relates to the fundamental rules of English language and grammar. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 6 '11 at 22:06
    
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… "These approximations were taught and used as the standard typing techniques in French and English-speaking countries." So it's about typing, primarily, not the language itself. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 7 '11 at 9:40
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@Jeff: It's a typing technique when using the English (and French) language. Writers.SE is mostly language independent and it does not improve your writing skills in any case, if you follow that rule or not. Again, I do not care that this question was posted on Writers.SE. And I do not care, if it is suitable for English.SE either. But I think, English.SE is the better place. It looks like, the community agrees at least, that English.SE is a good place, because 58 up-votes are a lot. –  John Smithers Feb 7 '11 at 10:23

I think it's one of those things that merge into both. Although the argument would seem to dictate that this is a typographical feature. It is nonetheless a piece of advice given to writers who were using the tools which required double spaces after a period. And as such, for whatever language it was used for, became an area of concern for individuals who wished to write in their respected language in the "proper" syntax given their tools. And as tools modernize, it is not always evident what is the "proper" syntax or not.

Disclaimer: I don't know the answer to whether or not you need one or two spaces after a period. I alway-ed assumed that you no longer needed to, (or perhaps never needed to on computers) due to modernization.

[Now I know the answer, should I cheat and change my original disclaimer :D]

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