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Maggie Secara

When numbering multiple files, be sure to use leading zeroes to list them in the correct order. That is, filename1 should be filename01, otherwise it will alphabetize *after* filename11

Carol Saller

Maggie, thanks for pointing this out--you're absolutely right. I edited the post to reflect your advice. --Carol

Kenneth Peterson

When I learnt typing decades ago (pre-PC era), I was taught to put in two spaces after the full-stop. Has that "rule" changed?

Missives From Suburbia

Yes, that rule has changed. The first thing I do when I begin to edit a manuscript is do a global search for double spaces and replace them with singles. It instantly adds a sea of red lines to a manuscript, which can be very intimidating to an author, but it's something all authors should know by now--that rule changed ages ago.

Carol, this is a great post. I'm forwarding it to the publishers who give me freelance assignments; hopefully, they'll incorporate some of this into their author guidelines.


That's what I keep telling some of the folks I work with -- that with proportional fonts you don't have to double-space after periods -- but no-one listens :/

Natasha Fondren

Oooh, what about starting a new chapter with Ctrl+Enter instead of hitting the Enter key a million times?

Dawn Santiago

The reason for doing away with the double space after the period is that in the digital age your PC acts as the typesetter always has. To get the most printed words on a page, typesetters have always only had one space after a period to save space on the page. Your PC now acts like the typesetter, especially when you are using a justified right margin and the software changes the spacing between words automatically. So especially in preparing an e-manuscript, you are being kind and courteous to your book's graphic designer as he/she places the text on the page if you make sure you have only one space after a period.


@Missives -- I don't turn on Track Changes until after I've changed two-spaces-after-period to one so as to eliminate the "sea of red lines." It's not a substantive change, so I don't believe it's something the author needs to worry about.

Saralyn Fosnight

It appears that copy editors and proofreaders know about the spacing thing but unbelievably, typing teachers and books are still teaching the old-fashioned method of double-spacing after a period or colon. The correct people to notify would be the people/publishers who publish these books.


It always puzzles me when I'm told that one doesn't need double spaces after period/full stop nowadays, because I find computer files with only the one space less readable. If the word processor is doing the job of the typesetter, why doesn't it look nicer? Especially in right-justified text, where double spacing would put more extra space in a more reader-friendly place, wouldn't it?

(I was surprised there wasn't any advice about right-justification here. Do you have any?)

Carol Saller

Lynnequist, thanks for asking--I've added an important bullet point in reply to your question: manuscript text should always be left unjustified. Otherwise the alternately squashed and strung out lines make for miserable reading. Justification is a job for typesetters. --Carol


This is all excellent advice (Bill, I too leave Track Changes off until I've fixed those sorts of things -- what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over...).

The one piece of advice I wish more of my authors would follow is this one: *Read the author guidelines for the journal you're submitting to. Then follow them.* All journals have such guidelines; most journals post them on their websites and print them in each issue; any journal will e-mail them to you if you ask. Author guidelines are not something copy editors put together for fun in our spare time; they're actually designed to make your life, and ours, easier.


A R Sundararajan

I can almost qualify as a professional typist; nevertheless, I almost (counter)intuitively press space bar just once after the period and move on to the next sentence. Am I jinxed? No I am not. Across a manuscript that contains say, about 350 pages in a word document, doing away with double spaces would reduce page count marginally, but usable nevertheless from the typesetter point of view. The layout looks tight, crisp, indeed, with just one space after the end period.

Mary Schneider

Personally, I double space everything while I'm writing, and submit in that form as well, because I find it easier to read.

I find a double (typed) space after a period just looks odd to me. I suppose the difference is that some of us have grown up in a digital world and never learned the rule about "two spaces".

Rejoicing in the day,

Sue Russell

Chatting on FB about single space after a point. Read your blog thread and once piece of advice has a couple of us mystified:

"•Never use the Space bar to indent anything. I’ll go further: never hit the Space bar more than once in a row."

How do you indent a paragraph three spaces, then, for example?

Carol Saller

Sue, if you're preparing a document for a typesetter, you should never indent anything three spaces. Paragraphs should have a defined indent, not one tapped out with a space bar, which invites inconsistency. Either build the indent into the paragraph style, or use a standard tab. For casual documents that you're printing yourself, if you want a three-space indent, set a tab at the required distance or define your paragraph style in order to automate your indents. --Carol

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