Isn’t it grand when you learn something new? I received a manuscript for evaluation recently. I told the author that I thought the manuscript was in pretty good shape, but that he really needed to remove the extra space between sentences.
He told me that he was aware of the new one-space rule, but wasn’t quite ready to buy into it. Even if he wanted to adhere to the rule, he wasn’t about to go back and make all of the changes to his manuscript. He asked if there was a quick and easy way to remove the extra spaces in one fell swoop.
I’ve wondered that, too. I told him my theory—that probably you can use the find and replace feature in Word to remove the extra space between sentences. I had never tested it out, but he decided to. He reported back that “it worked.”
I wanted to report this to you—my faithful blog visitors—but decided to test it out myself, first. So, this morning, I ran a test. Sure enough I discovered that, if you have a manuscript or a paragraph with two spaces between sentences (the old-fashioned way to type), and you want to remove one space, click on “Find and Replace.” Ask to Find “. ” and Replace with “. ” It works mighty slick.
When I attempted this fete with the question mark, however, I was not so lucky. While you may be able to automatically remove the extra space after a period, you will probably have to go in and remove the extra spaces after other punctuation (question marks and colons, for example) by hand.
Why is it now only one space between sentences when anyone over the age of 35 learned to type leaving two spaces at the end of any sentence? It’s because we’re in the age of technology. When we used typewriters, the letters we typed on a page each took up the same amount of space. So, in order to indicate the end of a sentence—to the reader and to the typesetter—we left two spaces at the end. Now, the letters we type on a page using a computer, each take up a different amount of space. Because of this, you can leave just one space between sentences and it is still obvious where the sentence ends.
There are still a lot of people who are unaware of this rule thus; you will see published books with rivers of white running through them. Take a look at some books in your library—those with “rivers” are pretty amateurish, don’t you think?
Professionalize your writing. Start by adhering to the one-space rule. Some people will tell me, “But I’ve been leaving two spaces for 40 years…20 years or whatever…” I say, “Talk to the hand,” because I’m not going to give you permission to be a slacker. Put on your big girl/boy pants, folks, and type the right way every time, all the time—on your manuscripts, in your emails, on your website and blog, when you leave messages at forums or participate in your discussion groups. Practice, practice, practice and soon it will become a habit. You can do it. You really should do it.
For more information about self-editing and some of the new rules created as a result of the technology age, read my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. http://www.matilijapress.com/html
Those of you who have this book, I would love to hear what aspect of it resonated most with you. Which part of it has been most valuable to you so far? For most authors, this changes as their project develops. At first, they are excited about the self-editing section. Some really appreciate the chapters that help them to understand the whole publishing scene better. Others totally get into the huge book promotion section. And there are still some who follow the self-publishing chapters explicitly. PLFry620@yahoo.com.
For those of you who have been so caring and concerned about our little Lily kitten (see the June 22, 2009 entry), she is still recovering. She still sleeps a lot. She’s playing a little, but for only short periods of time. She still seems somewhat confused and her reflexes are slow. We can only hope that she heals completely and becomes the little flying dare devil she was before the accident. Of course, we will be buying her a suit of armor, parachute and helmet before we send her off on her own to play with the other household kitties.