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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please join the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Spaced Out? You Probably Need One Space Instead of Two

We have a special guest blogger today. He is ever interested in helping others--as an author or editor and though this topic is covered in my The Frugal Editor, it behooves any author submitting material to start changing the way the type right now--whether they have read or plan to read my book or not. It takes a while to change and old habit!  (-: 


This morning, I woke up somewhat spaced out, so I thought I’d write about spaces. No, I don’t mean multiple universes, but the blank nothing-character in between letters.

As an editor, I often need to teach my clients when the spaces (and the longer spaces inserted by the Tab key) should be deported to outer space.

Invariable rules

1. There should be only ONE space between sentences. It doesn’t matter that your grandmother’s typing instructor told her to put in two. That was then, now is now. Now, the rule is, one space between sentences.

2. Spaces and tabs have no business being at the end of a paragraph. They do no particular harm in an email or a letter or a casual post, but can be nasty in anything meant for publication. During the several transformations the file will undergo, they can cause unintended blank lines. So, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of never inserting them.

3. There is a different reason for banning spaces and tabs at the beginning of a paragraph: they are too easy to leave off, spoiling the appearance, and sometimes ease of reading of the document. If you want a first-line indent, format the Style you are using to have one. (What’s a Style? Study the Help file of your word processor.)

Spaces that cause arguments

Currently I am exchanging beta reads with a nice lady who is also an editor. She has firmly told me off for having spaces anywhere near an ellipsis (...) or an em dash (—). I have had publishers instruct me that their house style is to always have spaces in such places.

My attitude is that writing is communication. Anything that makes the message easier to read is good. Anything that increases difficulty is bad. And anything that makes no difference is — of no difference.

So, as long as you are completely consistent within one body of writing, you can have an em dash without spaces, or with one at each end. However, avoid a space at one end and not the other.

With ellipses, a space can actually be a useful pointer. You can distinguish a passage that peters out... like this from a ...resumption.


I do hope this exposition has not got you spaced out, but rather has made a space for an improvement in your editing skills.

Isn’t English a wonderful language? How can one little word have so many meanings?



Dr. Bob Rich has been editing for several small, independent publishers, and for a steady stream of writers pre-publication, since 1999. He is on the way to getting used to the activity. In 2007, one of his editing clients entered his name in the (now sadly defunct) Editors and Preditors’ contest for Best Editor, then lined up the votes. Bob was ranked as “Best Editor of the year.” He considers himself to be a literary midwife.

However, he is not particularly anxious to have a barrage of work. His main reason for accepting editing jobs is the joy of being of benefit rather than the money.

He is also the author of 18 books, five of them award-winners. All of them are tools for working for a survivable future, and one worth surviving in, because he is a Professional Grandfather. If you want to know what that means, or even if you don’t, visit his popular blog, Bobbing Around, at https://bobrich18.wordpress.com


 Howard-Johnson is the multi award-wining author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromoIII), now offered by Modern History Press in its third edition. 

Carolyn's latest is in the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. She has two booklets in the #HowToDoItFrugally Series, both in their second editions from Modern History Press. Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers (http://bit.ly/LastMinuteEditsII) and The Great First Impression Book Proposal (http://bit.ly/BookProposalsII) are career boosters in mini doses and both make ideal thank you gifts for authors. 

The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditor), now in its second edition, is the winningest book in the series. Carolyn also has three frugal books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it helps them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques (http://bit.ly/RetailersGuide). In addition to this blog, Carolyn helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at 

Carolyn also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com). Learn more and follow for news on her new releases direct from Amazon: http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.

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