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APA Style Guide Endorses 1-Space Rule

August 8, 2019
 
 

Gather round, style hounds: the seventh edition of the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual, due out in October, includes some (pretty) significant changes. One that’s generated serious buzz -- good and bad -- is using only one space after punctuation to start a new sentence, instead of two. Reactions to the ever-controversial spacing issue on social media range from elation to “fresh hell.” The forthcoming guide also endorses “they” as a generic third-person singular pronoun, and the use of any person’s preferred pronoun, such as “they” or “ze.”

Emily Ayubi, director of style at the association, said Wednesday that many updates are based on reader feedback collected over the past decade. “We fielded more than 30,000 questions and comments from authors, editors, educators and students using APA style via email, social media, focus groups, interviews and surveys,” she said -- and spacing after punctuation “emerged as one of the most frequently raised issues.”

Some writers may still prefer two spaces, Ayubi said. But the majority of followers said the use of two spaces was antiquated in that it didn’t “align with modern publishing conventions and that it seemed ambiguous, given that it only applied to draft manuscripts and not published articles.” Users also said two spaces required “manual effort” and increased the potential for formatting errors. The association’s intent “is to bring clarity, consistency and ease of use,” Ayubi said. In cases where requirements may differ from the association's recommendations, “we encourage authors and students to follow the guidelines of their publisher or instructor.”

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