If the issue is news to you, I'm guessing that you're using two spaces instead of one, and that your typing teacher taught you to do it that way. Mine did. Her name was Faynelle Haehn, which I'll never forget because she forced us to type it over and over again every day as she sang out the letters in rhythmic eighth-note counts: "F-A! Y-N! E-L! L-E! Space-H! A-E! H-N!"
Now, spaces are merely a style question and not worth getting hot under the collar about, as my second-favorite grammar girl politely explains. And the truth is, if you're bound and determined to keep hitting two spaces after a period, no one will stop you because it's a free country. Or at least it was, before Obamacare and airport security scanners.
But there are plenty of little reasons to change to one space if you're hitting two, and that's what I'm here to argue.
- You never know which editors might be even mildly annoyed by two spaces, and some are. Alvina Ling recently tweeted that it's a pet peeve of hers, for instance. And you're already trying so hard to please Alvina you've considered sending cupcakes with your submissions; why hold on to this one style point?
- As a follow-up to #1, plenty of editors routinely strip out the double spaces using a cleanup macro before they start reading a manuscript (I learned this from my first-favorite grammar girl). Even though it's quick and easy for them, don't you feel awkward making them do it?
- If your editor or agent forwards a document straight to her e-reader, those extra spaces will stay there, along with the snaggletooth gaps they create in paragraphs. Ditto if she happens to read a printout before anyone has cleaned the electronic file.
- You're a writer for children and/or young adults. You strive to stay current and young in your outlook — to be flexible and open-minded, with an ear tuned to popular culture. Well, guess what? Your readers are growing up with single spaces after periods.
If it doesn't work, you can always send cupcakes.