I’ve been trying to work on a longer post, but for the sake of putting out a quick post, I’ll respond here to this Daily Post prompt about what they call “strange relationships with punctuation.” They ask, “What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!”
Well, my punctuation quirk doesn’t involve an actual mark so much as what comes after it. I’m taking about what comes after periods and colons. In my days in high school typing class, I was always taught that two spaces follow the period that marks the end of a sentence, the reasoning being that that extra space helps the reader understand that that’s the end of a sentence (or so I recall our teacher telling us). To this day, when I type out something long and major like, say, this post, I always hit the space bar twice after the end of a sentence.
Note, though, that I use the phrase “something long and major” in that last paragraph. When I first started my Twitter account in early 2011, I ended sentences in mid-tweet with a period and two spaces out of my long-practiced habit. But then, Twitter is a 104-character universe, and those characters come at a premium. So, slowly but surely, I broke that two-space habit on Twitter.
Interestingly, Twitter is the only place where I use one space after the period instead of two. When I’m typing out a blog post (as I mentioned above) or composing a letter, e-mail, or correspondence at work or in personal matters, I still use two spaces after the period. Though I’ve heard it’s now common practice to use one space instead of two after the period, especially in this era of electric correspondence, I still use the two-space thing. The teacher in high school was right: I think that extra space looks nicer and more understandable.
Oh, you may (or may not?) have noticed I used two spaces after that colon at the end of that last paragraph. That was something I was taught in high school typing as well: Use two spaces after the colon (I did it there again) to help emphasize the words and sentence that will follow. Again, it’s probably a side effect of the electronic universe that two spaces after the colon is no longer necessary. However, I’ve been able to break that habit a little better than using spaces after the period. Perhaps it’s a way of telling myself that ending a sentence clearly is more important than starting a new but related thought or list after the colon.
Are there other punctuation quirks that you tend to use? Feel free to add yours to the Daily Post’s collection of responses (don’t forget to ping back to their prompt). I’ve perused through a few of the responses, and one that’s piqued my interest is this one from laufvergnügen about emdashes (another one I have quirks with, though not as noticeable or important to me as spaces following periods/colons). That post includes this quote: “Sometimes, I feel like people avoid certain punctuation because they’re unsure of how to use it and don’t want to appear foolish.” Yeah, I imagine everyone has that unsure feeling whenever they use punctuation in their writing. (Gee, have we forgotten everything we’ve learned in typing and grammar classes? Perhaps that in itself is another subject for another day.)