Comma And Period Space Space

19 Jan

As Winnie the Pooh would say, “Oh, bother!”

Over time, I have become accustomed to the frequent changes in thought on such topics such as whether eggs have too much cholesterol, whether Pluto is a planet, and whether one should stay in the sun to absorb vitamin D or stay out of it to avoid sun cancer.  I understand; this is science.  Scientific reports change when studies turn out to be invalid, measurements turn out to be inaccurate, or new information is discovered.

Hard boiled goodness.

On the other hand, I had honestly expected that punctuation would be more static in nature.

Strangely, I have begun to hear some rather fervent debates and proclamations about the use of series commas and the number of spaces after a period.

How can there be new developments in punctuation?  Why is it even open to debate?

Apparently, changes in technology and preferences for certain writing styles are to blame.  Frankly, it gives me a headache.

I will use sunscreen whenever I remember…today, I did not remember.  I will always call Pluto a planet, although I understand it is smaller than previously believed.  I will continue to eat eggs, yolks and all, because they taste good and they are a source of protein.

I will also continue to use series commas and add two spaces after my periods, as I have always done.  Some may say that my actions are wrong.  I do not wish to offend anyone.  I hope that my readers may be tolerant enough to accept my old fashioned ways.

Read about the debate on the serial comma here.

Read about the debate on spaces after periods here.

27 Responses to “Comma And Period Space Space”

  1. bigsheepcommunications January 19, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    People can be funny about punctuation. As a professional writer, I’m always a little surprised when clients have a strong punctuation preference. I have one client who is comma-happy and insists on including commas in places where they are clearly not needed. Another client believed that using contractions was unprofessional.

    Here’s my rule: If you are clearly communicating the information (and you’re not writing a paper for an English teacher), then punctuate however you wish.

    • acleansurface January 19, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      Contractions are better than “textspeak”, which some students use in their papers now. I like your rule, BigSheep.

  2. Bee January 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Agreed, agreed, and agreed. (Space, space.) In addition to my musical work, I do occasional editing on the side for a couple of different professional organizations. I stick firmly to the rules I learned, and I will continue to do so until forced by Powers As Yet Unknown to do differently.

  3. shortystylee January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    With the contractions, especially when I am typing out emails for work, I feel it is okay to use them…. but if I want to make a point or emphasize something I would type out both words. I feel it sounds firmer than a contraction.


    • acleansurface January 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

      ShortStylee, I agree that a more formal tone is firmer.

  4. mjcache January 20, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    !, I d-ont’ kNow. whAt all, the, fuss: IS …about?,.,PunctAtion-I,.never” use, it…..get’s In. the ? way.

  5. Aligaeta January 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Well after that recent freshly pressed post on “. ” Yes, that was one space, I’m trying. What do you think of that NEW zodiac sign? That should be enough to flip some eggs!

    • acleansurface January 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Aligaeta. I am ignoring the zodiac sign stories.
      I really think that life is complicated enough. I want to make it simpler. I think it is silly to tell people they are “wrong” for not adopting changes that serve no real purpose.

  6. jaredblakedicroce January 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    I agree that punctuation should be punctuation, just like a slightly addled egg should be a slightly addled egg (and would float by the way, thus proving that it was no longer good enough to eat). Otherwise no one would ever master it, nor learn to effectively express their thoughts in an expeditious manner that could be consistent throughout time.
    If it changes, than will people understand my new novel in years to come? Will i have to update it? I cringe at the thought.
    By the way, Pluto is 1/10th the size of our own moon… I’m ready to give up the good fight

    • acleansurface January 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      Well, Jared, I guess we need to draw the line somewhere, don’t we? But I still like Pluto.

  7. Trinity River January 22, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    I use contractions when I’m writing for fun. I do not use contractions when I am writing for business and technical reasons. The 2 spaces after the sentence is new to me. But them I’m a slave to Word’s spelling and grammar check. It chokes on the 2 spaces.

  8. Moe January 22, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Indeed the subject is generating interest – one WordPress blogger saw 222 comments (so far) when he posted on the subject (it was a featured post, but commenters had strong opinions anyway!)

    I can see from this thread that I hold a minority opinion – I’m a defiant one-spacer! 🙂 A lifetime in publishing and graphic design taught me no-double-spaces EVER. That habit came from pre-computer days when typewriters didn’t have proportional spacing and the double space was a necessary aid to readablity.

    • acleansurface January 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      It must have been my typing classes that doomed me, Moe. I passed two typing classes, but I still type with two fingers. Two fingers and two spaces!

      • Moe January 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

        Well, two fingers and two spaces – quite orderly!

  9. nadia January 24, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    I use contractions most of the time, unless it’s a formal letter or report, and will continue to do so. Also I have always been a two-spacer, up until the time when I read that freshly-pressed blog! Now I try to be a one-spacer.

    I also like the rule of bigsheepcommunications (comment above).

  10. Magnificent Minimalist January 24, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    I emphatically agree with you: the Oxford comma is necessary, necessary, and necessary. At least for me. I’m simply most comfortable typing that way. I think that I’m end-of-the-sentence space agnostic and could adapt to either style, but I do think that the two-spaces method is more easily readable.

    • Moe January 24, 2011 at 9:52 am #

      MM – just to be a pain in the neck, I refer you to book publishing – never a double space.

  11. lifeintheboomerlane January 24, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    I feel like I’m too old to incorporate anymore rules or to change the rules I’ve followed for decades. Unless I start putting com,mas in the middle of words or forget periods, I’m staying put

    • acleansurface January 24, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      The whole topic makes me feel old, frankly.

  12. Mary the OINKteller January 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    I always put two spaces after the period until I started blogging. Now, I try to remember to use one- otherwise the space looks odd between my sentences. Or so I believe. I also believe that Pluto is a planet and I eat all of the egg. I refuse to look up my new Zodiak sign. Sometimes change is just change for change’s sake.

    • acleansurface January 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      Some folks like change. Many do not. I consider changes on an individual basis. Thanks for stopping by, Mary

  13. theladyofvermont January 29, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    I have to admit that the double spacing always makes my eyes hurt. So you can probably guess whose side I’m on for this debate…

    • acleansurface January 29, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      I certainly can, LadyofVermont. Thanks for visiting, even if it gave you a headache.

  14. ladyjustine March 3, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    Great read and very controversial!

    I’m such a modernist individual. I’m one-space, Pluto isn’t a planet and I hold with sunscreen as long as I can have a bit of a tan. I look vile when I’m a super-white. And no, no and no to the Oxford comma. It just looks wrong! I read with great interest the link on the serial comma, looking at the Ayn Rand example. If I were the editor, I’d have insisted upon: “To God, Ayn Rand and my parents.” No ambiguity, no Oxford comma and no ugly punctuation before a co-ordinating connective. Problem solved. Anyway, surely if Ayn Rand and God were the writer’s parents, she should have used a colon, thus: “To my parents: Ayn Rand and God.”

    But I’m also of the opinion that letters and punctuation, however we masters use them, are as idiosyncratic and personal as brush-strokes on canvas – and as long as you know that there is an Oxford comma, that some people double-space after full-stops and that sometimes you might need to use an Oxford comma (or alter your word order!)then all is well in the world.

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      Thanks for the comment, LadyJustine. I have submitted something for publication elsewhere, and I used ONE space, as I understand this is expected. I do prefer the comma, though…it makes sense to me the way I read. I have other idiosyncracies, of course…

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