Allison M.

A crossdresser's thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up

Periods, colons, and spaces


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.)


Author: Allison M.

A part of the trans community ("cross-dresser" is the term that applies to me) who finds themselves much more expressive and somewhat more confident when presenting in a feminine persona. An admirer and supporter of those who are fashionable, fabulous, and friendly (LGBT or otherwise). Someone who tries to be witty and unique, but is not even remotely perverted or a pariah (I am a real human being, just like you). Using various writing styles on this blog to communicate thoughts and feelings concerning my life experiences, fashion sense, and the world at large (and maybe impressing my high school creative writing teacher who deservedly gave me middling grades).

5 thoughts on “Periods, colons, and spaces

  1. I was told that’s how you tell the golden oldies from the youngsters who learned to type after the computer revolution! I still put two spaces, also, although computer format is not to do so any more. Punctuation rules should be sancrosanct, don’t you agree?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s the difference between the words-on-a-screen format versus the words-on-paper format that seems so stark. Or does it? Maybe sentences on a screen are just as understandable with one space after the period than with two spaces on paper.

      Now that I think of it, it’s the width of the letters on screen that’s different from that on a typewritten page. In my high school days, each letter on a typewriter’s typeball (or whatever it had) had the same width, regardless of letter or mark. So maybe that’s why they taught us to add two spaces after the period: To make it very clear that there was a period (and the end of a sentence) right there. It’s the days of words on screens and improved printing that has made that rule obsolete. But, still, there’s something to be said for marking the end of a sentence in a distinct way.

      Oddly enough, during my high school typing days, we had the opportunity to do work on new (for 1986) computers. Our teacher never taught us the one-space-on-a-computer thing when we worked on those computers, and for good reason: The programs we typed on were not as distinct as the WYSIWYG appearances we have here in the 21st century. Oh, and we printed off our work on those simple dot matrix printers that were a quantum leap different from the laser printers of today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I got my first computer about that time. It was the first year Mac came out with a desktop that was all one unit. I had a memory typewriter before that for a few years and even a 2 line memory seemed like a miracle to me! But, I graduated from high school in 1965, so I had spent 25 years on typewriters before ever using a computer. Imagine typing a masters thesis with no erasures allowed–on a typewriter! And hundreds of essays, stories and poems, as I was an English/Creative Writing major!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting! I never knew that one was taught two spaces following a punctuation mark. But I can see how it makes the end of a sentence more distinguished. Being from the “new generation” of typers, I only use one space after the period.

    I guess a punctuation quirk that I use often are commas between “though” or “say.” Example: “Using too many commas, though, can be wordier than, say, finding other ways to phrase the sentence.”

    Another would be the dashes: I use one dash at the end of sentences to emphasize my point- so there. I also go crazy with semicolons; I’m sure that I use them incorrectly, but sometimes ending with a period seems too abrupt.

    As you can see, punctuation is definitely a huge part of my writing, and I find it sad that people don’t use it as much (or as well) anymore, with the ubiquity of social media and limited characters on Twitter. Good thoughts, Allison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you young whippersnapper you. *LOL* Your example with the commas are a perfect reason for them; we were taught in school that commas serve as a way to highlight a slight pause in a sentence, and they make the sentence look more comprehensible than… say… a whole bunch of ellipses (as I demonstrated just there).

      Yeah, dashes are another peculiarity in punctuation. In the absence of one of those long emdashes, I tended to use two of those short dashes together, with a single space flanking them. For example: “It’s the dashes — one or two — that highlight a quick word or thought in a sentence.”

      Yeah, with the era of Twitter and social media and wanting to send your thoughts into the universe as quickly as possible, it is indeed a shame that good grammar and punctuation may not be as practiced (or practiced as well) as it used to be way back in the day. *sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

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