Ramona Marks



Professional writing, web content, proofreading, and editing.

Just ask.

Two Spaces or One?

In my household there is an agree-to-disagree truce about how many spaces should be used after a period. It turns out that this argument is intense online, with a lot of incorrect information being thrown around. Surprise, surprise.

I was never taught to use two spaces, so obviously I don't think a second space is necessary. But it turns out that there is a passionate and vocal constituency that believes I am in the wrong. Two spaces after every sentence.  Like that. 

Is there a right or a wrong in this argument? Despite the dramatic claims of some: no, there's no right or wrong. It turns out that unlike many grammar rules that are firm, the two spaces after a period tradition has more to do with typesetters who long ago used block letters to print text. Today it's considered more of a style choice, if you look at the current Chicago Manual of Style. But they also explain the history a little inaccurately. 

Their explanation says that double space use is the legacy of typewriters. Typewriters use monospaced fonts, where each letter is the same width. The manually included extra spaces added a visual break to help the text to be more legible. Even Grammar Girl explains, "For that reason, people who learned to type on a typewriter were taught to put two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence." 

But in fact, rules about wider spaces after punctuation marks pre-date typewriters. Even more importantly, what we understand about a space is different from what a typesetter understands about a space. Various space types have names that you've probably never heard, like the em quad, a space the width of a capital 'M' in any font. For a long time the em quad was the standard width to use after a period, which is wider than what you get from a spacebar these days.

Current typesetting also uses many different kinds of spaces, but because everything is highly automated, most of us would never know the difference. There have long been rules to determine what kind of space follows a semicolon, colon, or period, rules that have and will continue to change as technology and style preferences change. If you want to learn more about how typesetters have historically made rules about spaces, I recommend this comprehensively researched article.

It's not wrong to use two spaces, nor is it wrong to use only one. If you like to put in an extra space after each period, nobody should fault you for it, as long as you're consistent. And one could argue that if you're using a monospaced font, such as monospaced Courier, you'd be better served by two spaces after each period, but it's not necessary. You'll find people who are really angry that anyone believes differently from them, but isn't that always the case. Take a deep breath and don't worry about it any longer.

More Than One Job

My primary job is working as a web content provider through an online service. That makes up the bulk of the work that I do, both writing and editing. It's confidential, so not even my clients know who I really am. They know that when they make an order, they can count on me to be the one who responds and gives them an estimated delivery date. They know that I'm pretty good at sticking to my own deadlines, and that I'll communicate if something has been delayed. They know that the text they receive will be original.

Most of the writing I do myself, but I also have a small team of writers who do some of the writing for me - at least for that job. Everything that my writers send to me gets a once-over from me, too. 

And then there are the private clients. I work directly with business owners and academics who need web content and proofreading services, respectively. Over the past year, I've helped new businesses get started with their web page content and with printed materials copy. The variety is the fun part. I've written a lot of blog posts about plumbing issues - how many plumbers do you know that want to also be bloggers? But I've also been challenged to learn about the practices of buffalo farmers in Italy, looked at the costs and benefits of creating overland shipping routes between Asia and Europe (based on United Nations documents), and helped draft blog posts about personal organizing as well as water resource management. 

Never a dull moment, as they say. 

I wrote or edited close to a million words for my primary job (918,150) and I'm sure it's over a million if you count work for private clients, which I don't track for word count. Maybe I'll start doing that this year. I do enjoy a good spreadsheet. New Year's Resolution? Make sure it's another million word year.

Getting Started

I want this website to communicate a few things to anyone who visits: 

  1. I'm confident because I'm experienced, and because I know my limits.
  2. You can trust me to be discreet (rather than discrete). 
  3. Your struggle to find the right tone is universal, but I can help.
  4. I love the work that I do.

Writing for yourself or your own project presents a particular challenge. 

When you sit down to write something important, it's easy to get distracted because a sentence feels a little off. Or you're nervous about the way to start a paragraph. Or certain rules pop into your head and you're afraid to break them. 

The hard thing for many of my clients is separating themselves from the writing. Most are so invested in their business or their blog that they are concerned about doing things "the wrong way". That kind of investment is admirable.

When you work on a project that consumes you, or you start your own business and it takes all of your time, how can you keep up a blog? You know how important it is to continue updating your site with keyword rich text that is relevant and provide SEO benefits. But maintaining a blog is a job all its own.

My job is to send you text that is a distillation of your passion and style.

The project or business will be new to me, so I have the distance to make something happen quickly and effectively. When you hire me, I will also have the time to write what needs writing.

Like anything we do, the more writing one does, the easier it gets. Last year I wrote over one million words and edited another two hundred thousand. That is the modest count based on requested numbers, but I always send a little more rather than a little less.

I'm proud of the work I do and I take the time to get things right. Anyone interested in learning more should just get in touch, either via email or by filling out the contact form.