Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Grammar Guide
Punctuation—The Space at the End of a Sentence

Today’s Grammar Guide seems a bit “fluffy” to me, but I see more questions about this topic than you can shake a stick at. As an editor at a national magazine, I also see writers submitting articles that have double spaces at the end of sentences and it makes me want to call them up and say, “Where were you trained? Do you not bother to look stuff up before you just randomly submit crap to editors?” But I’m nicer than that, and I refrain from screaming at writers. I know how I want to be treated, as a writer, and so I’m usually pretty kind on the phone when I call and ask if the person could, oh, you know, reformat their article and resubmit it. Because, honestly, I don’t actually have time to go through and do a find/change for the extra spaces. Seriously. (So you can imagine how much time I have to call up writers and ask them to reformat their pieces. Guess how often these incorrect items get used.)

So let’s talk about spacing.

When submitting an article to a magazine or newspaper, you’re in the journalism realm and you never—let me stress that—never put more than one space at the end of a sentence. There is only one space after the period. There is only once space after a question mark. There is only one space after an exclamation point (although I can’t imagine why there would be an exclamation point in an article being submitted to a news or feature editor unless you’re trying to look like an amateur…).

Here’s something to consider: With the plethora of electronic newsletters out there now, quality control is on a sharp decline. If you submit an article to an online publication that publishes it with double spaces at the end of the sentence, what other Associated Press style issues do you think that “editor” is ignoring? Do you really think the person publishing that e-newsletter has journalism training? Do you really want to list that byline on your resume? I’d think twice before providing that link to any potential future employers.

When preparing a business letter or formal letter for your boss, new client, family members, etc., you will put two spaces at the end of a sentence, just like you were taught in fifth grade composition class. You’re all set. This does not pertain to letters to the editor at newspapers (see “When submitting an article to a magazine or newspaper” paragraph above).

When preparing a paper for a professor, the professor will tell you what style guide to use. AP, MLA, Chicago Manual of, etc. Depending on the professor’s preferred style, you’ll use either one space or two (probably two, because that’s what they teach in school).

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fifteen years and is the author of the new fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, available from

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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