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APA 6th Edition and Spacing after Sentence Period

I wrote about the Farhad Manjoo article that totally disagrees with the use of two spaces after the period. Well he supplies a link to Sarah Wiederkehr’s article about why APA 6th suggested two articles. Sarah is part of the official voice of APA, so to my mind, fairly authoritive.

Note that she clearly refers to a draft manuscript.
The new edition of the Publication Manual recommends that authors include two spaces after each period in draft manuscripts.

Click here to read the article itself

I still do not agree that one should be spending time on two spaces, meaning many hours of wasted time. Then when you publish, you waste more time changing it all back to one. Basically it is beyond me. But as an editor, I see the so-called two-space “rule” all the time in school’s guides, especially the Dissertation Guides. I guess it is always a draft for them. I certainly have never been asked to convert back to one space just before publication for example in ProQuest. So possibly it is a misunderstanding of APA’s intent.

Okay, I promise, not another word on this topic.

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Two Spaces after a Sentence Period

I can’t help writing about the usage of two spaces after a period. Remember, first and foremost I’m an editor. I’m bound to give the client what is required. With editing there are right/wrong issues. Then there style preferences issues. Deciding to use one or two spaces at the end of a sentence is a style issue. It just so happens to be one I feel strongly about.


  1. Simple really. As an editor it wastes my time having to check and usually add in spaces when two spaces after a period are required. It cannot be done automatically because the two-space “rule” does not apply to the usage of periods elswehere, for example, after a abbreviation or in the all important reference section of an academic paper.
  2. I’ve seen too many students spending time on agonizing about spaces when they should be focused on content or academic phrasing or maybe general formatting. Spaces after a period …!

I came across an article that really does not like the two-space preference and so I simply have to share:

Ferhard Manjoo wrote:  Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

The article is a good read, and looks at a bit of the history of the one vs. two space question. It also points out what certain academic referencing styles advise. To sum up: one space. According to the author this applies to APA as well once no longer a draft.


Read more in the next post about APA and whether one or two spaces.


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APA 6th: more on the double space

Okay, so your school requires you to use the double space. How do you remember to do so?

You have 2 choices as I see it:

1. Try and remember to use the 2 spaces as you type.

2. Completely ignore the requirement and add it afterwards.

Trying to remember to do so as you type, places your focus elsewhere. If you are not used to using 2 spaces, trying to do so while writing an essay is hardly productive. Sure practice it, but not while writing. It will simply interupt your creative flow. Set aside separate time to just practice 2 spaces, if you want.

Do it afterwards. As I said before, a huge time waster. Use the Find and Replace function. But be warned, if you have any abbreviations, citations, or references, you cannot do one global change. You have to do it sentence by sentence. Have fun. As editors, this is literally what we have to do. Make sure to have the hide/show icon switched on so you can see how many spaces there are and if another is needed. Under 10 pages one remains sane. After that, one is seriously cursing APA and your school. But like many conventions, a simple enough academic hoop to jump through.

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APA 6th edition: the dust has settled

I have been very busy elsewhere and have not attended to this blog for some time now. But it is time. APA updated from the 5th edition to the 6th. As often happens with first printings, there were many errors. Anyway, we are into a second printing and there has been enough time for the academics to decide how they want to interpret APA 6th. APA has made it abundantly clear, they are focused on how to submit APA journal articles. If you want to use APA for a short paper like a class paper, or a long paper like a thesis or dissertation, go ahead. But do not expect answers from them on how to lay it out.

So it is up to each school to decide on the detail. And it is up to each school to do what its prefers. It is hard to believe there can be so many interpretations. But there are. As a student, it is up to you to find out what is required for your school or your department.

My pet hate and a convention that many schools have adopted is the double space at the end of a sentence. Nobody types with 2 spaces anymore. Remembering to do so and checking it is the biggest time waster ever. APA choose it because they were looking at articles that get printed. Class papers and dissertations are hardly about printing. But many schools have adopted the double space, in spite of APA making it a recommendation and not a necessity.

From a student’s point of view it wastes time. From an editor’s point of view it wastes time. If you have the choice to avoid this recommendation, do so. Otherwise, grit your teeth and be sure to do it correctly and consistently.

More on another day about APA 6th.

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You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 21

It is your duty to be an assertive and informed student. The doctoral road is structured to help you in many ways. Sometimes the help might feel like a hindrance because so many people have a say and they might be unclear, but know that it isn’t. True, there are times when you have to jump through academic hoops to satisfy academic egos, but that is part of the process. Just get over it and get on with the writing process. Don’t let anyone point you in the wrong direction when help is needed. And through all the trials and tribulations, be sure to value and pay for the expertise of a good academic editor.

At times the content road of your doctoral journey is a battle.
Equip yourself with knowledge and use whatever help is available. And to get you going, Language Online created a guide for the serious student to equip yourself with some basic self-editing skills. Please be sure to download your own personal copy of the Language Online 21 Proofreading Tips and be sure to use them. At the very least, some should bring a smile to your face.

Click on the cover to get your tips copy:

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You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 20


I think often students are hoping for a content edit when they are paying for a copy edit. Often a student needs a content edit, but only wants a copy edit. So even if you are not writing under ideal circumstances, know yourself and know the process. Know what you should be doing, know who is in the chain of faculty help, know what kind of help you need from an editor, and be prepared to pay for good editing.

What could be less than perfect circumstances?

  1. When one chooses a topic, one would expect the process of discovery to be simple. Not so. This is normal, but if in any way you find it problematic, get help.
  2. One chooses your academic advisors expecting perfect help. Unlikely.
  3. If you are not a great writer, acknowledge that, and find and pay for a good academic editor.

Don’t confuse the two types of editing and don’t expect to get a content edit if paying for a copy edit. But if you are a knowledgeable student who does your share of the work, this is unlikely to happen. And if you need a content edit for part or all of your work, be wise enough to know that and get help. Faculty would be your first option and if that is not available, find a good content editor fast.

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You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 19

Now that you are clear about a copy edit, a look at the content edit.

Content edits

It is of no use polishing a paper if the content is lacking. Well-written nothing is still nothing. So before one can polish a paper, namely the copy edit, one needs to build the content.

So the starting point is the content. The idea is for the author and editor to work the content repeatedly until the thoughts are logical and words flow. Gaps in literature are often the most common content problem, or an unclear thesis, fuzzy questions, loose hypotheses, etc. Once the content has been tightened and honed, then the copy edit process applies. If you cannot manage the content by yourself and there is not enough help from the university, be prepared to pay the expensive rate of a content editor.

Anyone offering to write the paper for you is not an editor. Editors work with already written text. How else can you call the work your own if you did not write it in the first place. Be super careful of anyone who offers to write your work for you.

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You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 18

Almost time to wrap up this series. I’ve spoken much about who is involved in the doctoral process and that the academic editor is one of possibly 8 people. I think a brief recap of what an academic editor can and can’t do is in order.

What is a copy edit and what is a content edit? Lack of clarity can also cause an unsatisfactory experience.

Copy edits

Copy edits mean checking all language and punctuation, making sure the work has an academic tone, that house a style is applied (if provided),  and that the formatting is correct and consistent. While doing all that, an editor will work to keep your writing voice. Not an easy task. The degree of sophistication of the final document depends on three aspects:

  1. your level of writing
  2. how well and how often you self-edit
  3. the number of times you have an academic editor edit your work.

My favorite images when trying to describe how editing works is the onion or the ladder. As you keep peeling the onion layers or climbing the rungs of the ladder, so a piece of writing improves. Someone who writes well to start with and does good self-editing could manage with one edit at the end. They next layer or rung is immediately achievable. Someone who writes poorly, be it poor English or poor academic English, would need at least two edits or more. A first edit would get it reading reasonably. A second edit would ensure that the next layer or rung is possible. And sometimes more is needed.

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You and Your Doctoral or Thesis Writing Team: Part 17

So there you have a brief look at why editors are sometimes put into a really difficult position. If you never understand what is going wrong from your side, you will always be disappointed with the editing relationship and the editing process.

The solution is simple. Be a take-charge student. Know your role. Know who else needs to be involved, and what to expect from each person. Use a good editor when ready and know what to expect. Equip yourself with basic self-editing skills. Such knowledge will allow you to productively accept good help and ignore pedantic advice. If you haven’t already, download your own handy copy of the Language Online 21 Proofreading Tips. And be sure to read the guide and use the tips.

Go here to request your copy: . http://tinyurl.com/self-editing

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