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Double-spacing between sentences in English?
Thread poster: Catherine Dauvergne-Newman

Catherine Dauvergne-Newman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
English to French
+ ...
Apr 17, 2006

Could you please tell me whether having 2 spaces between sentences is still standard practice in British English?

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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 06:12
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not any more. Apr 17, 2006

That was the convention in both British and US English throughout the age of typewriters. In word processing, the space bar should never be used twice in succession. It tends to goof up word wrap and alignment.

Sorry, I don't have anything "official" to cite at the moment. I'll let you know if I dig up something later.


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:12
French to English
+ ...
my 2 cents Apr 17, 2006

Catherine,

It can often depend on the objective of a translation -- if it is an internal document, a work in progress likely to changed/ be edited in the future, be adapted to another format (DTP, web...) and wishing to be read with more ease, etc...Typically, the client will specify what is desired. If in doubt and if a clarification from the client is impossible to obtain, I'd mirror the source format: if double spaced, then do so; if single spaced, then do so.

Patricia

[Edited at 2006-04-17 16:08]


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Certainly Apr 17, 2006

That's what I have always done.

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Robert Tucker
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
German to English
+ ...
RSA Apr 17, 2006

When I took RSA Word Processing lessons (DOS, WordPerfect 5.1) in the the earlier 1990's two spaces were required after a full-stop between sentences.

RSA now seems to accept either one or two spaces - not so sure about GCSE though:

www.ocr.org.uk/OCR/WebSite/Data/Publication/Specifications,%20Syllabuses%20&%20Tutors%20Handbooks/Level_2_Ce13734.pdf
www.seelb.org.uk/curriculum/areas/business/docs/BCS%20Scheme.doc
www.esinet.norfolk.gov.uk/pacs/adulted/IBT%20II%20Exercise%20Manual.PDF

If you are going to need to segment the document into sentences at any time then consistency may be a good idea as may checking what your CAT tool looks for. In this respect I would think just one space may be the safest.


(You will need to delete the space (or %20) in "Specifications" in the URL for the first reference)


[Edited at 2006-04-17 17:41]


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:12
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Just one space Apr 17, 2006

Hi,
In typing class way back when, I was taught two spaces after a period, but since the era of word processing the rule has become one space.
Way back when, a customer complained about the two spaces (guess he thought I was padding the text) and I quickly broke myself of the habit!
This is from an FAQ column about the Chicago Style Manual, which is probably the most reputable there is!
HTH
Catherine

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/cmosfaq/cmosfaq.OneSpaceorTwo.html

Q. Please help. I have confusion regarding the correct spacing after periods and other closing punctuation. My company uses the font Arial and consistently uses a flush-left margin. We are an engineering company. My job consists in preparing documents and letters for customers. Everything I read in manuals and from technical writers directs me to use one space after periods. I find that it works very well, except occasionally, when an extra space helps readability. Knowledgeable engineers have embraced the one space use as being consistent with the font design and automation of reports. Others are unpleased with the one space, they think they have difficulty reading. (I, too, had an adjustment period which I forced myself to endure until it became automatic to read easily.) We are preparing technical information. What do you think? Thanks for your wonderful support and especially the quick answers. I greatly appreciate your service.

A. The view at CMS is that there is no reason for two spaces after a period in published work. Some people, however—my colleagues included—prefer it, relegating this preference to their personal correspondence and notes. I’ve noticed in old American books printed in the few decades before and after the turn of the last century (ca. 1870–1930 at least) that there seemed to be a trend in publishing to use extra space (sometimes quite a bit of it) after periods. And many people were taught to use that extra space in typing class (I was). But introducing two spaces after the period causes problems: (1) it is inefficient, requiring an extra keystroke for every sentence; (2) even if a program is set to automatically put an extra space after a period, such automation is never foolproof; (3) there is no proof that an extra space actually improves readability—as your comment suggests, it’s probably just a matter of familiarity (Who knows? perhaps it’s actually more efficient to read with less regard for sentences as individual units of thought—many centuries ago, for example in ancient Greece, there were no spaces even between words, and no punctuation); (4) two spaces are harder to control for than one in electronic documents (I find that the earmark of a document that imposes a two-space rule is a smattering of instances of both three spaces and one space after a period, and two spaces in the middle of sentences); and (5) two spaces can cause problems with line breaks in certain programs.

So, in our efficient, modern world, I think there is no room for two spaces after a period. In the opinion of this particular copyeditor, this is a good thing.



[Edited at 2006-04-17 23:08]


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Jalapeno
Local time: 11:12
English to German
My two cents Apr 18, 2006

I have always found the English (and American?) habit of using two spaces a very strange one. As far as I know, and please correct me if I'm wrong, no other language uses two spaces. I might, however, just be too young to remember whether double-spacing was used in Germany as well in the area of typewriters. So feel free to blast my youthful naivety, all you oldtimers out there...

As to the question whether it helps readability, I guess it really is just a matter of habit. Personally, I feel that it actually interferes with my reading flow, for I always stumble over double spaces because my German mind interprets them as typos.


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
Italian to English
+ ...
one space Apr 18, 2006

One space for me, too. I've never used two.

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Catherine Dauvergne-Newman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Apr 18, 2006

Many thanks for all your replies.

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Bryan Smith
Local time: 03:12
German to English
+ ...
Go with source Apr 21, 2006

I always use two spaces when composing new documents. It just looks better all around, but I agree with one comment above that really one should just stick with whatever format the source document had.

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Elizabeth Sumner
Local time: 10:12
Russian to English
+ ...
Personal preference - two spaces for me Apr 21, 2006

I learnt to type on computer using a typing program, which docked marks for only one space. I've also had lecturers who insisted on double spaces after full stops. Personally I prefer it, and I now find it very difficult now to stop myself from putting in both. I've never had any complaints but whether it's easier to read is probably a matter of choice.

Some styles have sensibly gone the way of all flesh - indenting paragraphs rather than leaving a blank line, which is much clearer - however in this case I think it's really just whatever the client prefers.

Lizzy


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