Monday, October 24, 2011

Every Writer Does It...

What does every writer do?

No matter how talented, how precise, how good?

Every writer will at some point type a blank space at the end of a paragraph.

Most writers do it multiple times. Some add more than one space, too!

The habit of hitting that space bar after finishing a sentence is so strong, we do it without thinking, even when we're completing a paragraph and don't need to hit it.

And when it comes time to format, we have a million of these:

See that dot before the paragraph mark? That is an extra space! (The line below without one is correct.)

Now that I've been formatting a lot of books for other authors, I realize how common this is among writers. We all do it. (Yes, I do it, too!)

The moral? The next time you are feeling inferior, just remember - when it comes to spaces at the end of a paragraph, every writer does it.

Just please try to catch all of them before sending me a book to format!

Do you sometimes hit the space bar before hitting return? You might want to check...


  1. I didn't realize this was an issue. I'm sure I do because I don't always realize I'm going to end the paragraph with that paragraph.

    How do you get word to show the formatting?

  2. Stina, look at the Word bar - you'll see a symbol like the backwards P up above. Click on that and all of the formatting in your document will be revealed.

    DL, don't worry - my manuscripts are full of these.

  3. I've just made the corrections of the first proofs of my new book. Most were lack of punctuation I'm afraid.

    Thanks for your visit yesterday. Just bought a new camera but it was pure carelessness on my part why I lost the other.

  4. Yes, I do do it. But the question is, why do you need to take them out of formatting? It's just a space. Not that big of a deal is it? Is it???

    (Yes, I really do want to know. Your answer hinges on my sanity as something else I should have known before putting my books out there.)

  5. This may sound crazy, but I actually write with all the formatting symbols shown. I'm kind of anal about formatting, so I like to make sure there is one space around ellipses, between them, never two at the beginning of a sentence, and so forth.

    That being said, I'm sure I've missed one at the end of a paragraph.

  6. Yes, I do do that. I didn't know it was an issue though! Thanks!

  7. Anne, if you are formatting an ebook for Smashwords, those spaces will be what keeps it out of the national catalog. They will kick it back to you and let you know it's an issue.

    Matthew, I couldn't write like that!

  8. Guilty. Absolutely. And I still have trouble not putting two spaces between sentences.

  9. I just know that I do this. I love my space bar :-)

  10. When I'm typing in my WIP I always hit the return bar to start a new paragraph on the next line.

    I've had to break myself from using extra spaces after the period. Old typing classes taught us to double space after all end punctuation. It's taken me some time to keep it to normal spacing.

    Interesting post and not something I think about much.

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  11. I'm certain I do that, along with two spaces at the end of every period. I need to break these habits!

  12. haha, I love those quirky little things that are entirely based on ILlogic. I'm totally going to check my documents!

  13. Well, it used to be two spaces. :)

  14. Oh, gosh, yes I'm a nightmare to format. I space and space. :) It's my way of saying, "Hmm..."

  15. That's nuts that they care. This totally never would have crossed my mind! I probably do two half the time, because for work, journals require two between sentences, so it's my habit. I find and replace when I'm done to fix THAT, but that's not an option for a single space, is it?

  16. Whew! Thanks Diane. I'm not up to Smashwords yet. But now I know thanks to you.

  17. Occasionally, but not that often. And I happen to know as I have formatted six books for Smashwords this year ;)

    What troubles me is the hidden formatting that occurs all the time when you use Word. I loved WordPerfect and clung to it as long as I could because editing was so simple. So I am trying to learn only to use automatic headings when I write school notes, not when I write fiction.

  18. Yikes, yes, I know I do that, but I didn't know it mattered. *Hangs head*

    Fortunately WORD has a format search and replace, so will be an easy fix. Thanks, Diane!

  19. Great advice! I found out how often I do that when I was editing my book for Smashwords. Glad to know I'm not alone.
    Can you please email me again. I put the wrong address on my blog so I didn't get your email. Can't wait to send you a book.

  20. Diane, I explain how to make one's computer work for them using the find and replace button in The Frugal Editor (

    Many editors/publishers advise writers to never use that function but it can be very helpful--used with caution. And, yeah, VR, I know lots of writers don't know they shouldn't. That's because this all changed with computers. The fonts/processes are different from the ones used by presses in the old days.

    There are other neat computer tricks in that book that will save writers tons of time.

    BTW, the editor of my newsletter often puts in those extra spaces and doesn't know she's doing it. So I go back to edit the edtior. It's not easy to remember! (-:


  21. Ha, never thought about it but I probably do. Will have to pay attention and see.

  22. I never thought about it - I'll certainly pay more attention from now on!

  23. You know I'm going to drive myself nuts with this one, right?

  24. I'm pretty sure I'm a repeat offender on this front!

  25. Not me. Nu-uh, not never not once! (wink)

    Marvin D Wilson

  26. LD, my husband still does that and it drives me nuts.

    Southpaw, it did!

    Elizabeth, I know you understand!

    Hart, find and replace doesn't do well with single spaces. I've tried.

    Anne, be prepared!

    Dorte, you understand! And yes, the hidden formatting can make one crazy.

    Susan, you are not alone.

    Carolyn, it doesn't seem to work well on single spaces.

  27. You know, I've never noticed. I don't believe I've had this problem too often. But like you say, everyone does it.

  28. Something I'd never even thought about before. I'm sure I'm guilty of doing it.

  29. I've since learned how to properly format to avoid this mess. My first upload to Smashwords for my ARC went right the first time. This in contrast to uploading BREAKTHROUGH when I made just about every formatting mistake possible.