08 June 2005

Spacing

The issue of spacing comes up in academic writing all the time. Once dialed in, it's no longer a problem, but those first few papers can cause even the most savvy writers grief. How does the professor want the paper formatted? Following MLA, APA, AP? Then many only want you to partially comply. For instance, MLA calls for double line spacing throughout the paper, but many instructors ask for student name block single spacing.

Then there's the issue of double spacing after end punctuation. When you reach the end of a sentence, hit that space bar twice. What's the point? I can find merit if essayists used a size 8 font, but not 12 point. It just wastes space, sort of like the word "just." So, why would I even bring this up? Seems a tad asinine, right? Not if you have to prepare submitted work for publication on the Internet.

Web-published work needs to lose that double spacing after exclamation marks, question marks, and periods. In the words of my Web mentor, Robert Casserly, "It does funky things to the text once you post it." So, I've spent the past couple days going through short fiction and nonfiction pieces line by line, deleting that accursed extra blank spot, tightening and economizing. Now if I can only change the academy's standards to reflect a less frivolous formatting that is more in line with the streamlined writing it demands from students.

1 comment:

Robert Casserly said...

For Word documents, here's an automated system to replace double spaces with single spaces:

open document

on edit toolbar, select "find"

select tab for "replace"

in "find what" field, hit the space bar twice (two blank spaces)

in "replace with" field, hit the space bar once (one blank space)

click on "replace" or "replace all"