Punctuation gets political

Bloom County 2015

What is it about the number of spaces after periods, or the use or omission of the Oxford comma that can send people into an all-out political brawl?

Let’s not even go there with the use of apostrophes or commas.

Likely, we were taught one particular way to address each of these punctuation issues in a typing or computer class as impressionable young tikes. “That’s the way it’s always been done,” and as such, we have been good little pupils — who are either crazy or have failure to let go.

It’s interesting to note that when the above comic was shared on the Bloom County Facebook page yesterday, within less than 24 hours the post had garnered more than 54,000 likes, 38,000 shares and 4,500 comments — seemingly a record for the site.

“4,500 comments on punctuation. Really. Two things: Bloomers have all clearly lost their minds. Second: You’re all at the right place. Welcome,” Bloomberg artist Berkeley Breathed posted in response to the particular cartoon’s surprising popularity.

For the record, Associated Press (AP) Style, which Shift Key adheres to unless directed otherwise by a client, calls for just one space after a period and no Oxford or serial comma. However, we “know people” who still prefer two spaces after a period and can even think of “someone” who really enjoys camping out on the space bar, using three or more spaces after a period.

Wouldn’t using less spaces after periods make that person more of the “conservative” (or at least space-saving / fiscally conservative) ilk rather than the “bossy liberal moron” variety, as depicted in the cartoon? More strange food for thought for those of us who have clearly lost our minds obsessing over these matters.

For more on style guides, don’t miss this article from our September newsletter:


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