So, Microsoft settles it?

I don’t know how many, if any, people have boycotted my blog because I put a double space at the end of a sentence. I took Typing in Grade 9 and Grade 10 and it was part of my teachable option at the Faculty of Education. I will confess that I struggled the first term in Grade 9 with Typing. Speed and accuracy are important. I had neither.

As luck would have it, at my Dad’s workplace late that fall, replaced all their manual typewriters with electric ones. Dad bought one that was being phased out and it became a Christmas gift. It was one of those old Underwood machines. It was very heavy and also became my first set of weights.

I practised and practised on that thing. I mean, it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn to type. Eventually, I made it! If memory serves me correctly, 30 words per minute was the goal in Grade 9 and a higher number in Grade 10. That, I can’t remember. What I do remember was practising by typing all my notes for a while. (except Mathematics and Science) I became very, very proficient.

The skill served me well when when I took programming courses although that opened a new set of skills. You see, in school we focused on letters and digits. Programming required all kinds of additional strokes like parentheses and brace brackets. I got pretty good at those as well.

Throughout all this, one thing remained from Mr. Renshaw’s Typing class – two spaces after a punctuation mark! I’ve seen the arguments and the discussion and how proportional fonts have changed everything. I see the logic but the people who are big and really fanatic are late learners. They didn’t take B&C in high school and are now learning. Good on them. It’s a skill that everyone should have however and whenever they get it.

I know that Grade 9 is now too late to learn to keyboard. (we don’t use the term “typing” anymore) I licensed a software package on behalf of my former school district and we put it in the hands of Grade 4 students. Like some great initiatives, it’s gone but I know that there are some good teachers who see the value of the skill and work it into things.

Anyway, this story hit my news reading and ruined my Sunday morning. Here are a couple….

I know that some people will take great delight in this news.

I’m not a user of Microsoft Word. Most of my writing is done in a browser and I use LibreOffice when I need a standalone app. But, we know that when someone introduces a “standard”, others will follow.

I’m not one that will change a lifelong learned and refined skill. It won’t be the first time that I ignore red squiggly lines in my work – typically caused by using an American dictionary which doesn’t like words like colour, etc. I also still believe that the world is round.

In my mind, there are far more important things in the world than worrying about things like this. I mean, holding your printed copy over top of a correct copy and up to the light to see if the letters line up isn’t much used any more!

4 thoughts on “So, Microsoft settles it?

  1. Good morning Doug!

    I remember when the convention of two spaces following a period was challenged by the print industry: apparently, someone had done a study and decided that there were cost savings to be had. At the time, it sounded like a pretty self-serving change that ran the risk of making reading a little bit more difficult for the end-user and requiring anyone who had developed their touch typing skills to retrain the muscle memory. I may have tried switching for a while and then decided that there was no real benefit. Interestingly, I’ve noticed just that the iOS voice-to-text only puts in a single space iPad using voice dictation, so there is that.

    I think I have shared previously that I didn’t develop the capacity for touch typing until I was in my 30s. Kudos to Mavis Beacon teaches Typing and Almena for setting me on the path to something beyond The Columbus Method my dad taught me. (Columbus Method: spot a key and land on it.)

    My dad had a vintage SCM manual typewriter that I remember experimenting with and using when I was younger. It had a ribbon that allowed you to use both red and black ink. At some point in high school/university I recall renting an electric typewriter for a while, and its ribbon supported black and correction tape. Remember correction fluid, and then correction tape? I remember sitting through WHMIS training, conscious that correction fluid was about the only thing we might use in our day-to-day capacity that required us to be aware of WHMIS guidelines. We called it liquid paper training.

    So, regarding the single space following a period being implemented by Microsoft. I wouldn’t be surprised if you can go into the bowels of Word and somehow turn that off. As much as I appreciate read squiggles alerting me to spelling mistakes (more often than not, they are actually typos), constant notifications alerting me me about two spaces would get my goat — as did the “idiot light“ in my Mercury Lynx.

    I turned off clippy, and if Microsoft wants to bug me about two spaces following a full stop, I’ll turn that off too. Plus, it’s probably a good thing to take an of-so-brief brief pause at the end of the sentence to provide a milli-second to compose your thoughts before you start the next one. LOL.


  2. Doug, I’ll admit that I’m now a “single spacer,” but I would have never considered it an error the other way. I often use Siri to write short comments and emails, and Siri double spaces after a period. Will this eventually change with this new rule? Hmmm …



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