Blank space before the question mark

Known as "French spacing"


Editor Bob
I'm curious, why do some people place a blank space at the end of their sentence before the question mark?

For example, I would always type:

What is the capital of Peru?

But a minority of others type:

What is the capital of Peru ?

Those who type like this, were you taught it in school? And if so, what's the logic behind it?

Some people do the same with exclamation marks also !

I googled but didn't come across any definitive answers. The best was the same discussion but on another forum: Rotten tomatoes - People who put a blank space before the question mark in an interrogative sentence.

I cannot fathom the mentality of those who write this way, and it really pisses me off. You wouldn't put a "space" before a period, would you? Do these people actually believe that this is the correct method of writing ? Occasionally you will see those who do the same thing with exclamation points ("Batman Begins is the best movie ever !"), though it isn't as common.
Well in French, and probably many other languages, you do put a space before a question mark or exclamation mark. They seem to cope with it.
Hey ... my friend, don't take it personally, but you're wrong about the French language. It's my first language and I teach it. I don't know about other languages, but I'm telling you, in French, you do not put a space before a question mark nor in front of an exclamation mark. Whomever told you otherwise is obviously wrong...sorry.
Wikipedia is equally clueless: Wikipedia - Question Mark
Chicago
can't say that I've seen that too often. but maybe it is intended as a way to stress that the sentence is a question?

still, there are differences in "correct" formatting across the world. as one example, it is a common practice in the US to put two (2) spaces between sentences - as a way to help the reader see "yes, here is the end of one sentence and the beginning of a new one." It makes reading easier - to those like me, that grew up with that standard. But it makes reading harder for most Europeans, who are accustomed to only one (1) space - Technical note: HTML will automatically trim / not show consecutive blank spaces - so my two (2) spaces typed apprear as one (1) space for the Europeans. Funny, since the HTML standard was largely concieved in the US midwest...

point being: pick your style, stick to your style, and be sure to tell everyone else that their style sucks. Very much like choosing a Football team. I chose the "Chicago Style"

also, I don't remember seeing the _? thing. If I did see it, I probably put it in the "typo" bin...
BadDoggie
it is a common practice in the US to put two (2) spaces between sentences
Only when using a typewriter, not a computer. The reason for using two spaces is that monospaced fonts are difficult to read. Every character takes the same amount of space. Adding a second space between sentences makes them more legible. However, you didn't do that on typewriters which could do proportional spacing, giving most punctuation and thin letters like "i", "j" and "l" half a width, the majority of letters full width and a few letters like "m" and "w" one and a half widths.

This is a question of typography and I was a typesetter in the 80s. Double-spacing in anything but a monospaced text is incorrect which is why HTML ignores multiple spaces.

woof.
Kay
I don't know where that last quote in post #1 came from, but I do know that in TYPOGRAPHICAL and FORMATTING usage in French it is common practice to put a space not only before a question mark and an exclamation mark, but also before a colon and a semi-colon, as well as after/before a quotation mark (I'm not saying "inverted commas" because French quotes don't look like inverted commas, they look « like this »).

Those are traditional typograhical rules that many publishers (not to mention individual sticklers and perfectionists) still insist on, although nowadays that "space" rule is being progressively abandoned, mainly to save space, it seems to me (esp. in newspapers and magazines), and inverted commas are more widely used (globalisation oblige?).

When typing a text after selecting "French", Word (at least in the set-up that I have) will automatically add a "hard space" before all those punctuation marks, so those rules don't seem to be dead yet...

Kay
one51
I'm sure people do this for emphasis !!!

It makes you pay slightly more attention to the emphasis than this!!!

The punctuation is then not just run into the last word and de-emphasized.

But I think most people can understand the concept of exclamation or interrogation without the space, thus it subconsciously pisses off people like us. And also upsets those who have better than average grammar skills (for example, those whose mothers were language teachers). Or should I say, skillz of them who's Mothers teached grammer.

I avoid multiple ? or ! marks unless I'm really pissed off; then I don't take any responsibility for my punctuation.
Yeti
I was taught, in Ireland, to put a space before a question mark, and before an exclamation mark. When I came to Germany I was told that no space should be left before a question mark in written German.

None of my english teachers were French, however I am the bastard son of the greatest leader history has ever known.

Vive le Jacque !
papa_geno
it is a common practice in the US to put two (2) spaces between sentences
BD's dead right about that one...after years of typing out term papers and physical submissions with the two space convention, I somehow found myself editing online work. In that capacity, I had to retrain myself on those spaces, because two spaces screws with coding--or at least it screws with the coding of our site. When you're dealing with articles that weigh in at 12-20 Word pages at 12 point font, there's a lot of grind work searching the buggers out. Better just to unlearn the extra space.
AnthonyInEurope
it is a common practice in the US to put two (2) spaces between sentences -
I did a lot of typing for the school newspaper, as a kid, before computers came about, and I cannot break the habit of following a period with 2 taps on the spacebar. Nor do I try.
MadAxeMurderer
I preferred a space before ? and ! but I understand its unconventional. Based on Yeti's comment, I must also have been taught that.

I think the space looks better gives more emphasis to the ?!, but I'm learning to be conventional .
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