Generational Faux Pas
by Heidi Langer, Langer Marketing & Communications LLC
Nothing screams Baby Boomer more than a double space after a period. Really? Oops, just double spaced after the period! Hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Yes, I’m a Baby Boomer. Actually straddling the fence with Baby Boomers on one side and Generation X on the other. If I fell off the fence, I’d likely fall toward the Baby Boomers as I feel more like them in more ways than I care to share, especially when it comes to typing and spaces. I learned to type in my high school “stenography class” which is the same place I learned to read and write shorthand, take dictation and remember about 8-10 sentences at a time before I had to write them down in shorthand. Remember shorthand? Anyone over about 45 should remember it. I still use it today. Comes in handy when I have to take notes really fast. An invaluable skill I say. But both the double space after a period and the shorthand all came from the same era – the 1980s. So for 35 years, I’ve been double spacing, using shorthand and exuding all sorts of other faux pas that scream my age. Does anyone really care? Is a double space really that bad? There are some, such as New York Times technology columnist and author of True Enough, Farhad Manjoo, who recently wrote an article for Slate.com and says that “…typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong.” Seems pretty drastic if you ask me.
What I want to know is who decided to take out that extra space after a period anyway? It appears double spacing started ‘way back when’ because we typed on actual typewriters that used monospaced typesetting, which means every letter took up the same amount of space when typed. So a double space after a period was required to make it easier to see when a new sentence started. Double spacing created a more reader-friendly paragraph. Today, computers don’t use monospaced typesetting, they use proportionally spaced fonts that automatically adjust spacing based on the size of the letter. Thus, they automatically create a more reader friendly sentence/paragraph. In essence, the computer does the letter spacing for us. It’s just so hard to remember not to double space. Frankly, I wish there were a shortcut in word processing software, similar to the search/replace function, which would let me search and replace all double spaces with single spaces. With no luck in sight for that type of function, this Baby Boomer believes she will have to buck up and single space to fit in with the rest of the Gen Xs, Millennials, and the newest kids on the block, Generation Z. Now all I have to do is get rid of my 1980s leg warmers and my hair scrunchies and I’ll be all set!
Heidi Langer is the owner of Langer Marketing & Communications LLC in Cleveland, Ohio. The company was founded in 1995 and specializes in public relations, marketing, special event management and association management. Whether your project is multi-faceted or small and simple, we provide the personal service you require. You’re not just a client – you’re a friend. Follow us at @hlanger321 or find us at www.langermarketing.com.