Word says: There’s no place for the extra space

Some people prefer two spaces between sentences. People who do it right prefer one. 

It shouldn’t be a matter of preference anymore. Microsoft Word has declared that one space is really the correct way to do it. I thought it was official already, since AP and most other guides have official missives on the use of spaces after sentences. They’re pretty squarely on the side of the single space. Now, if you try to bring the double spaces to a Word document, Word will give you the nudge you need to please cut it out. You’ll be handed a signature squiggly blue line of a reminder to go back and fix something, because it’s not correct.

There may have been a time when I used two spaces, but I don’t remember it. I don’t know what it is to work on an old-timey typewriter. In those days, two spaces were necessary, because there were no computers with word processors. There had to be some way to indicate the end of a sentence. Typewriters required that extra space, and everybody got used to the double thumb-bump to make it happen. Considering that practice also comes from the time when you’d have to crank a phone that you’d hang on a separate receiver, maybe it’s past time to move on. Maybe I was taught the two spaces. For sure, I’ve adapted. 

The holdover two-spacers I know will cling to it until somebody makes them stop. Maybe this will do it. If not, they can always learn how to disable Word from reminding them it’s incorrect. I’m not going to demonstrate here how to go in and mess with those preferences, because the one-space way is really the only way. If you really want to know, I can walk you through it.

Even though I always default to one space, I won’t go to the mat over it if a client or colleague really insists on there being two. I do insist on consistency, though. If a document has many hands creating it, and some use one space while others use two, it’s going to look weird. Go one way or the other with it, at least. -rvb

A word about working from home during COVID-19

Many of us are into a month of COVID-19 social distancing, which means working from home, if we can. I’m used to being efficient from a home office, but this new normal is still not normal, especially if your kids are home, too. Because my experience has primed me with a head start, I’ve put together seven tips for working from home that can help. 

Check your privilege. Many people can’t have the benefit of working from home. It might not feel like you’re lucky when you’re balancing all of your new demands, but having internet access and a computer are privileges in themselves. Having the kind of job that still pays you and has remote capability and flexibility is a fortunate situation. Start from a place of gratitude.

Know that your destination is the same. The way you’re getting there looks different, but you still have the same deliverables/outcomes/goals. Understanding that you’re heading to the same objectives helps you keep perspective that it’s not all that different at the core. 

Get dressed. People who aren’t used to working from home like to joke about how great it must be to work in your pajamas. That’s funny for about a day. For those of us who do it often, we know your mindset can be so much more productive when you’re not freshly rolled out of bed. Getting dressed is a signal to you, and everybody in your household, that you’re at work. You might be home, but it’s not a day off.

Have a dedicated workspace. If you’re lucky enough to have an extra room with a door, that’s ideal. If not, then even clearing out a corner or part of a dining table and having that be the dedicated office space will go a long way. You’re not on the couch, on your bed or on the floor. It signals to everybody that you’re physically in a working space, and that’s where your mind is, too.

Set up office hours. My kids’ teachers have office hours where they’re available for video interactions at certain times of day. Mommy office hours work like that, too. We have scheduled times that the kids can come and ask questions or get help. If they get stuck on something, they put it aside for office hours.

Keep a schedule. This one works well for us, because we’re used to keeping routines in our days, even during regular times. My kids appreciate those guideposts, and it helps the day progress with purpose. This isn’t to say have no flexibility. But we all like knowing it’s morning work time, class time, lunchtime, snacktime, reading time, creative time, afternoon work time, outside time, etc. Look at it this way: You can control what you can, and predictability is power.

Do your best. Everybody works differently, and circumstances vary. As long as you’re getting it done, don’t agonize over little things. Give yourself some grace, and extend some to your professional community, too. We’re in it together, and we’ll get through it fine. -rvb