I used two spaces after the (very) short sentence in this title: Dude. Chill. This little fact would infuriate Farhad Manjoo who recently went on a full-out rant over the use of two spaces instead of one after a period in the January 13th issue of Slate:
And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste.* You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you’d be wrong; every third e-mail I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for “Dear Farhad,” my occasional tech-advice column, I’ve removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within.) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I’ve received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces.
What Manjoo doesn’t acknowledge is the fact that the Modern Language Association only recently changed this rule in their style guide – and even their change is more of a suggestion than anything else:
Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks, this spacing is shown in the examples in the MLA Handbookand the MLA Style Manual. As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.
And while it’s true that I have mostly converted to the one-space rule, Manjoo’s outrage seems just a tad bit overblown. I mean, if you’re going to get upset about something, why not choose the your vs. you’re epidemic that is sweeping our nation?
That’s a problem that actually impedes understanding (besides making you look incredibly stupid). And that, my friendly readers, is my two cents.