Dear Otto: Should Students Space Once or Twice After a Period?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Lisa:

In teaching 5th and 6th graders (I became the tech. teacher this year), do you teach them to space once or twice after periods and colons. It seems to me that what I see on the web/business world is that there is no longer a need to space twice. Yet my students’ homeroom teachers tell them to space twice. I want to teach them what is correct but I also do not want to confuse them.

A: That’s a question I get a lot–and often people are sure they know the answer, just want me to validate their two-space conclusion.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but two spaces is the floppy disc of keyboarding–we’ve moved past it. It’s not wrong; you don’t have to retrain yourself to go space instead of space-space, but with new keyboarders, teach them one space.

It started in published documents. They wanted to save room, which saved money, so eliminated that extra space, and the practice rolled into everyday use. Some people still teach two spaces, but preferred is one. And if you want to teach kids the approach that will get them through college, it’s one.

Thanks for this question. It’s one that always comes up. We need a great big bull horn to get the word out better.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.