I can’t fire my awful assistant, people keep asking how old I am, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I have an awful assistant who I can’t fire

I’m a nurse and I work with several nursing assistants. I have no authority to hire them, fire them, or implement any kind of substantive rewards or consequences, but I am responsible for their work.

Most of them are great. One, however, is extremely unpleasant to deal with. If I ask her to do something, she will scowl and mutter darkly about how busy she is and how unreasonable I am. Sometimes she yells at me and sometimes she outright refuses simple requests. I do a lot of work that should be hers because it’s easier than having a fight every time. She also bullies the other nursing assistants, talks inappropriately to patients about her personal problems and weird conspiracy theories, and the entire atmosphere of the unit is tense and miserable when she’s around.

I am at my wit’s end. Every time I try to initiate a conversation about her attitude, she scowls and mutters and walks away. I have talked about this issue with my manager and the director of nursing, but all they ever do is talk to her, and it doesn’t change anything. I would fire this woman in a heartbeat if it were my decision, but it’s not, and I don’t know what to do. Do you have any ideas?

Talk again with her manager. Say this: “I know that you’ve spoken with Jane multiple times about issues like X, Y, and Z. But it’s continuing. I think we’re at the point where we need to escalate this — putting her on a formal improvement plan with a clear warning that her job will be in jeopardy if this continues.”

If her manager refuses, ask this: “I’m at the point where I simply can’t get what I need from her, and she’s resisted everything that I can think of to change the situation. Since I’m responsible for her work, I need something to change. What do you suggest?” You might also ask, “If you don’t think it’s at the point of a formal improvement plan and warning, can you tell me what would bring it to that point for you?”

If this gets you nowhere, you’re dealing with horrible management, and they’re actually more the problem than this particular nursing assistant is.

2. People keep asking how old I am

I have been with my organization for almost 2 years. Although I am only 22 years old (graduated from college early), I gained a lot of respect in my field in a relatively short period of time, and do a lot of networking and presenting with various organizations the national level. There is also a training component to my job where I am the instructor. In my field, most of the people I am interacting with are male, and around 35 years old or older. Despite dressing professionally and wearing makeup, I have a bit of a baby face and I am often asked some variation of “how old are you?” by peers or clients I’ve just met. Although I think most people are just curious (though one or two have actually been rude), to me it comes across as unprofessional and makes me feel like I need to justify my position and experience level. Is there a light-hearted way to not respond to this question?

You could try “oh yeah, I know I look young” … “older than I look” … “I’ve been out of school for a few years” … or “85.” But you might be better off just owning it — “I’m 22.” Say it confidently and then move on.

Some people are going to be skeptical about your experience level, and that’s probably true no matter how you answer the question. But the best way to respond to that isn’t by feeling like you need to justify anything; it’s by demonstrating that you’re awesome at what you do. Show them that (and don’t get rattled by the age questions), and the age stuff should fade away pretty quickly.

3. My boss doesn’t want me to use a fan at my desk

It’s winter in Scotland and our office seems to be overcompensating by having the heating on at least 25 degrees. I realise I tend to run far hotter than my colleagues so I have a fan on my desk to try to combat this. I dress in the minimum that is decent, drink plenty of water to try to keep cool, and regularly visit the warehouse (which has no heating and feels lovely) but I can’t get through my day without nasty headaches and feeling nauseous due to heat.

Lately, my manager has started telling me to turn my fan off (it points only at me and I have no coworkers near by to get hit by the blast) because other people are cold and even resorted to turning it off when I leave my desk. I’m at the end of my tether; I understand other people are cold so I don’t complain about the ridiculous level of heat, but every single day people who don’t generally work in our office visit and make comments “it’s like an oven in here!” and yet it seems the cold blooded get listened to more simply because they whine louder. I’ve spoken to both my manager and my supervisor but all I get is a shrug or the more usual “you need to see someone, you’re not right.”

I’m at the end of my tether here and can’t think of any more reasonable steps to take. Why can’t I have a fan on if the heating is on 24/7?

Welcome to the universal thermostat wars, in which no one can agree on the right office temperature.

I’d say this to your boss: “I don’t want to impact the temperature for other people, but I’m warm to the point of it making me feel sick and being to focus. I keep my fan pointed only at me so that it doesn’t impact others, and it’s the only way I’ve found to be physically comfortable without asking for the overall temperature to be lowered. Can I continue using my fan as a compromise?”

4. Will I be judged for using two spaces after a period?

I have always used two spaces after sentence ending punctuation. I know the norm is now to use only one, but habits are hard to break. I have read several articles recently that say this can make you look old and outdated, like a relic from the typewriter era.

What is your take? Personally, I am in my late 20s and am otherwise extremely confident with my work/email writing style. Do you think anyone is judging this minute detail? I would be interested to hear what your readers have to say about it.

No one is judging you on it because so many people still do it, but it’s outdated and if you’re someone who cares about such details, you should train yourself out of it.

(And because I’m bracing for an outcry: It’s true that lots of us, including me, were taught to put two spaces after a period in our seventh grade typing classes. But the practice came from typewriters, which used monospaced type, meaning that each letter took up the same amount of space. Double spaces after a period were used to give a visual pause so you could see that the sentence had ended. Now that we have computers with proportional fonts, a single space after a period is the rule and has been for a while. Change with the times! More here.)

5. Asking whether a job is still open before applying

Is responding to an online job ad, asking whether or not the position is still open prior to actually applying or sending them a resume/cover letter etc. likely to hurt my chances of potentially being hired for the job?

The question is meant to pertain to any job situation, but in my particular case, the month-old ad in question instructs applicants to demonstrate ability by thoroughly editing and source checking a lengthy article. (A cover letter and resume are still required.) The position would be a great fit for me, but I also need to secure a job yesterday. I know myself well enough to realize that this particular application process will consume at least several hours of my time, and wasting time is something I can ill afford to do at the moment. (Perhaps this process shouldn’t take me so much time, but I’m just working with the facts.)

I don’t want to throw away that time if the position has been filled, but I can also see how contacting the employer with only that question could come across in an unattractively casual manner, & create the impression that I’m not a “go-getter,” or that I’m not properly enthused about the job being offered.

It won’t hurt your chances. But you might not get a response, and while you’re waiting for one, the position might close. Some employers just don’t respond to questions about their openings, especially from non-applicants. So if you’re strongly interested, I’d go ahead and apply.

For the record, asking applicants who haven’t passed any initial screening yet to spend several hours on a test is really poor form. (It’s rude because the majority of applicants won’t even get interviewed. The employer should spend 15 seconds considering whether a person is a reasonably promising candidate before making a request like that.)

{ 595 comments… read them below }

  1. dragonzflame*

    #4 – I was also taught this, but had it trained out of me by the editor of a paper I worked on as it screwed with the page layouts.

    I don’t know about it making you look like a relic, but I suspect that it will annoy some people sufficiently that it’s worth trying to change.

    Of course, there’s also the option of carrying on as normal and then just doing a find and replace to turn your double spaces to singles before sending it off. I do that all the time if I’m given something to edit by someone who’s still in this habit and it works a treat.

    1. Rana*

      Yeah, I second the find-and-replace approach. As an editor, I know the importance of submitting docs with the single spacing, but I just. can’t. retrain. my fingers to redo it when I’m going at a fast clip. I learned touch-typing from a fierce, tiny woman with no tolerance for deviance, and I’d bet that pretty much everyone who graduated her classes has the same problem. (Hell, my space bar has an actual groove in it because I’ve been unable to break my instilled habit of hitting the bar with only the right thumb.)

      1. Bexk*

        …I just looked down at my work computer and noticed the same groove on my space bar. I never realized that I only hit with one thumb until right now when you said that! I have broken my double spaces though…

        1. GOG11*

          yeah…the finish is worn off on the right side on my keyboard. I always thought the divide was an APA/MLA thing…in college, two spaces after a period was common in the program I studied (I graduated college 4 years ago).

            1. Kelly L.*

              I still hit mine too hard, because of an old computer I had back in the nineties where the space bar stuck. You practically had to pull a hammer out of the air like Daffy Duck to get a space. Muscle memory!

              1. bluephone*

                Oh God, my keyboard has the same “shiny” surface on its right side–where my thumb hits it. (Learned touch typing in high school but even the teacher was older, she also taught the computer classes, and trained us to only put one space after a period).

            2. Hermoine Granger*

              Wow, you learn something new everyday. I knew there was a shiny spot on my spacebar but just looked and saw that it’s on the right side like everyone else’s. I position both thumbs over the spacebar but just realized that I actually only hit the spacebar with my right thumb. I don’t actually use my left thumb to press any keys.

              I had a typing class in high school but was never taught to double space. I thought it was weird when I saw an old boss do it while typing emails.

          1. L*

            I always thought the 1 space vs. 2 spaces was an APA/MLA (or science/humanities) divide as well. I double majored in psychology and literature in college (graduated in 2007), so I had to go back and forth between different formatting styles when I wrote papers. Per my professors’ instructions, I always did one space for psychology papers and two for lit papers. But it looks like the MLA guidelines may have changed since I was in school because now they say: “Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor)”. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

            1. cuppa*

              I did MLA in undergrad (and it was still definitely two spaces after a sentence at that time) and APA in grad school (and don’t recall noticing whether it was one or two spaces and was never called out on it). I learned at work about single spaces after a sentence, and I was worried about never transitioning, either. I’m still not perfect at it, but I do find when I proofread things that I do a single space after the period often, so it is sinking in.

              1. Zillah*

                At this point, APA standard is definitely one space, though they say that two is okay for drafts of manuscripts. (I’m not sure why.)

              2. Christina*

                I wonder when MLA changed that–I did a thesis following MLA about 3 years ago and my advisor never mentioned it (and he was a stickler for correct formatting).

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Same here! I have no recollection of being taught to use the right thumb for a space, and I don’t really touch-type, but using my left thumb feels SO unnatural!

      2. kozinskey*

        I trained myself out of it, and then had to go back to two spaces to fit the style of a journal I was writing for. I ended up setting up autocorrect to change “period space” to “period space space.” It’s not a perfect solution because of quotation marks & other punctuation, but it certainly helped when I went back through to edit.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Wait….waaaaait. How do you do that? Because Word will flag one space but not two. I’m confused now.

          I always used two (I never took typing in school; I learned it in the early ’90s on a computer). I use two in manuscripts because to me, one space looks like the sentences are running together.

      3. Natalie*

        Derp, that’s where that shiny place came from. I had never noticed before but I also only hit the space bar with my right thumb.

        And now my typing is getting all wonky because I’m thinking about it.

        1. HR Gorilla*

          I have a very shiny space on the right side of my space bar too! This whole time whenever I use cleaning wipes to tidy up my desk I’ve been trying like heck to get that shiny spot off the space bar, because I kept thinking my fingers must have been greasy since the last time I cleaned my keyboard!! Thanks, I now have less bit of useless mental noise floating around in my head.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Am I the only one whose shiny spot is on the left of the space bar?

            (I learned to touch-type from a programme on an ancient Schneider word processor that my Dad borrowed one summer from the school he used to teach at. I’m trying to type this sentence using my right thumb to hit the space bar and I really just can’t do it unless I drop my speed to about 9 WPM)

      4. INTP*

        I’ll third this approach. It’s a great idea for anyone because you may have unintentionally inserted double spaces between words or sentences even if you’re not in the habit of typing double spaces. We always do that when editing a document before sending it to a client – it’s as standard as doing a spell check.

        I’m curious, though, why this norm held strong for about 20 years after the typewriter era but has changed so quickly? When I took computer class in high school in the early 00s, we had proportional fonts and printers, and we were taught to use a double space. I’ve only heard otherwise in the past 5 years or so. (I’m not sure exactly when typewriters went out of common use but I’m guessing it was long before then because as a child I never saw one in school, we never had one at home, I never saw one at my friends’ houses, etc.)

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Probably because your teachers had the rule drilled into them, but not the reasoning, and didn’t know that the standard had changed. So since that’s the way your teachers have always done it, it’s the way they still teach it. And actually, it hasn’t really been that long since typewriters were the norm; in junior high our keyboarding classes still used typewriters, but by high school it was all computers (I was born in 1980). I didn’t learn about the rule until I was in college. Luckily, it didn’t take much for me to break the habit.

          As a side note, it’s always been one space in printed documents (books, magazines, etc., which used proportional fonts). When typewritten manuscripts were given to printers to format for books, those double spaces went bye-bye.

          1. Natalie*

            I’m just a couple of years younger than you (born 1984) and my elementary school only had computers because they had won some kind of grant. The computer lab was a Big Deal. I was the only one of my friends with a PC at home, which was primarily my dad’s work computer as he does illustration, graphic design, web design etc.

            1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

              We didn’t have typewriters in elementary (well, there were probably a few for the faculty and staff to use), but we did have a computer lab full of Apple IIe monochrome computers. There were two or three color-screen Macs by the time I went to junior high. At the junior high, the keyboarding classroom had 30 IBM electric typewriters (probably Selectric II, but I didn’t look too close) and 8 Apple computers (most likely the successor to the Apple IIe, whatever that was). We also had a separate computer lab with some kind of non-DOS monochrome screen computers. I had history in that classroom, and I remember playing a game called Inferno (I think?) on them, but never ever using them for word processing or anything like that.

              By the time I got to high school, there were several computer labs, and the keyboarding classes were all using computers (probably 486s or Pentiums with Windows 95). By my senior year, the computer lab even had internet, and I signed up for my first email address (Hotmail, before Microsoft bought it) on a school computer.

          2. Vicki*

            “As a side note, it’s always been one space in printed documents (books, magazines, etc., which used proportional fonts). When typewritten manuscripts were given to printers to format for books, those double spaces went bye-bye.”

            Interesting! Thanks.

      5. TracyKnows*

        Rana, I suspect that many of us of a certain age were taught touch-typing from a fierce, tiny woman with no tolerance for deviance!

        1. Jen in Austin*

          Mine was a grumpy old man, but yeah.

          /Shiny spot on the right of the space bar./
          //The “N” is worn off of both my laptop keyboard and my desktop keyboard. I have no idea why. There’s no “N” in my main password….//

            1. Jen in Austin*

              True, though I don’t type that very often. Jen & Jennifer of course. Still… I think I type my login password and my master password more often. Maybe not, apparently. :D

      6. Jessa*

        I don’t bother. I do the document then I do find/replace [space space] with [space.] Takes about two seconds.

        The big issue is the computerised typing tests though, because most of them count that as an error. Oy.

    2. katamia*

      I did this the opposite way–I do one space, but one of my transcription jobs wanted two spaces. It would have taken too much time and effort to retrain myself (especially going from the generally-accepted way to the less common way), so I went the find and replace route. Once I remembered to check for certain exceptions (Ms., a.m., etc.) before sending stuff in, it worked great.

    3. Blue Dog*

      As always, know the rules and know when to break them. If you are writing for a periodical or a trendy magazine or a cutting edge blog, go ahead and leave out the extra space. If you are writing for your stodgy boss or a 70 year old judge or someone else brought up under the “two space system” then go ahead and throw it in. Seriously, who gives a damn. Do you really want to die on that hill?

      My personal take is that you shouldn’t doggedly adhere to any rule — new or old — which would distract from your main purpose of pursuading the reader.

      1. allisonallisonallisonetc*

        Yep, go with your audience. I will say though, it doesn’t matter so much one space vs 2 as it does keeping it consistent. Nothing is worse than editting someone’s (in my case engineering) paper and seeing different numbers of spaces after every other sentence. Although in that case they went way beyond the 1 vs 2 debate and in some cases were throwing in 4 or 5 (!) spaces after a period.

        1. LuLu*

          Oh my gosh! I have one employee who will put anywhere from 2 to 6 spaces after a sentence — it drives me batty! I have to run the find and replace four or five times just to make sure I get them all. Why on earth would anybody have ever been taught to type with that many spaces?!?

          1. NoPantsFridays*

            I know this person too. Not the same person, someone else who does the same thing. I know people in their early 20s who do the double space, and one person who tabs after every sentence. It’s maddening. Also people who use justify alignment for every document, whether or not it’s appropriate. Also, someone who types…like…this…with…random…elipses…and very little other punctuation.

            1. maggie*

              But…..why? I don’t understand a TAB? (I do love me some …s though; very hard bad habit to break.)

              1. NoPantsFridays*

                haha I know, it’s the weirdest spacing quirk I’ve come across. I don’t know why.

                I like “…” too, honestly. I just try to avoid it in professional writing, emails etc. With personal stuff I write for myself or just to post online, I use elipses, especially when in the draft/think out loud stage when I try not to put too much structure into it. This person uses elipses instead of spaces, commas, periods/question marks/exclamation marks, etc. There is no definitive end or beginning to any email he writes. You get the impression he is always thinking about the subject of the email and you’re just getting snippets of his consciousness. It’s interesting, but unfortunately also unclear. (This person is not a coworker, thankfully!)

            2. LuLu*

              The random ellipses! Yes! I get itif it’s an informal email where they represent a pause in “speaking” but they use them sometimes in place of periods or to separate thoughts in actual reports that are theoretically being seen by others! Ugh! Luckily we’re not in publishing or anything of the sort, so this doesn’t make much of a different too often, but when it does it drives me crazy!

            3. JB*

              I can let most differences of style/formatting going, but extraneous ellipses drive me insane. It’s like driving behind a vehicle you can’t see around who keeps breaking, and you don’t know why. Then finally get a chance to pass them and see that there’s nothing in front of them, they just never learned that if you want to slow down a little bit, you can take your foot off the gas and the vehicle will slow down all by itself (assuming you’re not going down a hill). They look they are breaking for something nobody else can see (which is why I call them “mystery breakers”).

              I don’t mind ellipses at all, if I can figure out why they are there. Nobody . . . talks . . . like . . . this . . . unless . . . gasping . . . for . . . air.

      2. bridget*

        I agree. I personally prefer one space as a theoretical matter, for the reasons Alison mentioned. But I’ve been switching bosses every year for the last couple of years, and as luck would have it, they alternate in preference, which is the worst. Instead of picking one system and getting used to it, I have to retrain myself for the first few months of a new job, and then once it becomes a habit, I switch. People in my personal life who get emails and such must be so confused (and anybody who pays attention to the continuity of my comments on this site; I’m sure I’ve switched back and forth).

        My current boss is a two-spacer, and I had to really focus to use one space in this comment.

    4. A Kate*

      I was in the same boat you were for most of my twenties. You might find it doesn’t take as long as you’d expect to retrain yourself to use single spaces. I’m otherwise a stickler for editing and formatting and tend to end up in jobs where these things are important. Last year I decided to switch to single spaces, and after a short period of having to be awkwardly conscious about it (maybe 3 months), one space is now as natural to me as two spaces once was.

      The months after I made the switch were admittedly cumbersome, and slowed me down a bit, but you might decide that a lifetime of not having to do find and replace means greater efficiency in the long run.

      As Alison said, you don’t have to make the switch, but imagine what will happen when we’re 60 and most of the workforce is using single spacing. You don’t want to be THAT guy whose drafts your future subordinates complain about having to “fix” for spacing. But ultimately, I guess this also depends on how writing-heavy your field is.

      1. Tenley*

        +1. It took me very little time to get used to one space — and that was more than 20 years ago! Even in the 1990s in my field it wasn’t a matter of personal preference but upsetting the typesetting and formatting of the internal computer programs. Two spaces is archaic in that sense, technology-wise, with most computing programs.

      2. Natalie*

        Yep, I learned to type when I was around 8 and trained myself out of double-spacing in college. It will be weird for a few months, and then it won’t be.

    5. anon17*

      #4 reminds me of when we got to type or short stories in second grade. They told us to remember to double space it. So… every word ended up with two spaces after it.

      And that’s how I learned what double spacing actually meant :-)

    6. Spooky*

      Honestly, I actually DO think people will judge OP for it, though it depends on the field. I confess that when I see it, my first thought is that I’m dealing with someone older who hasn’t bothered to keep their skills up to date.

      1. Kathlynn*

        And yet I was taught around 1999-2003 to double space. And as I said in a post below, I’m only 25. I think it is very incorrect to make such an assumption.

        1. GOG11*

          I’m the same age and learned double spacing in college. Never came across it in typing class, actually….

        2. Joey*

          Yeah I’m not sure it’s actually caught on except for a small group who feel particularly strong about it. I probably have 10 recent grads (less than 3 yrs out of school) who I regul and none of them do the single space thing. In fact I’m going to ask because either I’m really old and sheltered or you guys are in a bubble.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I have about 10 bosses, and a couple of them use two spaces with regularity, but the rest have gone over to one space. They’re all older than I am, and I’m 37.

            I also spent some time working on a collaborative blog (not for pay) where the site owner was absolutely adamant about one space. Part of my “job” was to do find and replaces on other people’s writing before it got posted–the blog software made the double spaces really obvious. She’s also older than I am by a couple of years. She made a believer out of me.

          2. LBK*

            Really? I can’t think of anyone offhand at my office that still uses double spaces…I think I was actually taught as early as elementary school not to do it. The only reason I even knew double spaces were a thing at some point is because my mom worked in technical documentation. She taught me it originally and then my teachers drilled it back out of me throughout my education.

        3. AdminAnon*

          Yep. I’m 26 and was taught to double space in my seventh grade typing class. I didn’t start single spacing until college. As others have recommended, I started out using the find/replace. Within a few months, however, the double space started looking silly to me, so I re-trained myself.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            I’ll be 29 in a couple weeks, Taught double spacing in elementary and middle school, was told either was fine in high school (1999-2004) and in community college it was never really brought up–but Word autocorrected the double to single space.

      2. ChristinaW*

        I do think that double spacing seems unprofessional, especially since most double-spacers I’ve found will throw in some triple-spaces or even quadruple-spaces, which just make the document seem messy.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Absolutely serious. I’ve known a few people who do this. I think they just keep spacing till it looks pretty to them.

            1. Ann*

              Yep, I’ve encountered these people too. At least one of them also manually hit “return” at the end of every line when they were typing something (no doubt a habit left over from using a typewriter), apparently not realizing that word processing programs take care of that for you these days.

              1. Chinook*

                “At least one of them also manually hit “return” at the end of every line when they were typing something (no doubt a habit left over from using a typewriter), apparently not realizing that word processing programs take care of that for you these days.”

                Those types drive me nuts as the person who then has to “pretty up” documents that have been collaborated on, especially since it then causes really weird line breaks. Thank goodness someone taught me about the backward P view formatting button in Word (which I just enlightened bmy boss of yesterday) otherwise I never could figure out why sentences broke like that.

                1. Jessa*

                  fpost, I hate Word for those reasons. Also in WP the ability to change a font by just inserting it at the beginning of the line you want changed. In Word to make format changes you have to highlight stuff. Which is why I almost always do documents in WP and then convert. I’ve been using WP since DOS.

              2. maggie*

                I will admit that I do it in SOME emails. We all have widescreen monitors and it drives me nuts to read one suuuuper long line of text, so I turn it into a smaller paragraph. (I KNOW!!!)

            2. Ellie A.*

              And everyone I’ve know who was inconsistent about spacing after periods tended to be single spacers. That is, most of the time they single spaced, but sometimes they would double, triple, or quadruple space. I think this is a YMMV thing.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                This happens to me when I try to single space. My technical document class teacher insisted on singles, and I could NOT do it with any consistency. I would have to look for the place where Word did not mark the single space and then fix it before I turned in an assignment.

          2. Laura2*

            Yeah, I’ve seen this occasionally, but not frequently enough for it to be something that I’d single out double-spacers for.

            What I’ve found more frequently is that some people who are fanatical about single spaces after a period start seeing double-spaces everywhere when it’s really just how the letter is shaped.

          3. Cath in Canada*

            Oh hell yeah. I edit a lot of documents each week, from multiple writers, and I always use find and replace to remove double spaces. In the majority of documents I get from double-spacers, I have to go through the document at least twice, sometimes three times, to find and replace all those triple and quadruple spaces. It’s a well known phenomenon with double spacing.

            1. Cath in Canada*

              (I should add that most of the documents I get have been worked on by at least two people before they come to me. Using track changes really seems to accentuate the problem).

            2. Feliciti*

              You only have to do a find and replace starting with the most spaces you think you might find, e.g., 4, then 3, then 2, replacing each with 1 space. This whole process shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes, unless you’re talking “War and Peace” length documents.

              1. Feliciti*

                I should clarify you do a find and “replace all.” Probably would take mere seconds regardless of the length of the document.

        1. Graciosa*

          Okay, I’m going to be in the minority here, but I strongly prefer double spacing – although I have certainly never thrown in triple or quadruple spacing. I realize that single spacing is common enough now that I don’t change single spacing to double for documents presented to me that are consistently formatted that way, but I literally spend my entire day working with documents and double spacing after a period makes them much easier to read.

          I will live with either system, however, if it is used consistently. One double space in an otherwise single space document will jump out at me as much as a single misaligned tab. Or a single instance of a space after a tab before the first word.

          Oh dear, I had better not get started on tab alignment –

          1. Ellie A.*

            I agree. I also find double spaces easier to read. I mean, I realize that this isn’t true in certain computer programs or formats, but for a basic Word document? It’s so much easier on the eyes!

            1. bridget*

              I think it depends on what you’re used to looking at. Last year my boss preferred one space, and I had no trouble reading our written work product. This year my new boss prefers two spaces, and yesterday I was reading work product from my previous job and thought “why does this all looked so cramped and hard to read?”

          2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

            Agreed. When I read documents with one space after a period it seems like each paragraph is one long sentence. Particularly in legal writing, where there are so many Important Capitalized Words, you can’t judge when a new sentence begins just from the capitalization. I like the visual clue.

            *and I’m mid-20s for what that’s worth

            1. Natalie*

              Of course, that’s assuming there are multiple sentences to begin with. The lawyers who draft our leases must have a shortage of periods or something, because they regularly write single sentences that go on for more than one 8 x 11 page.

          3. teclatwig*

            I am in alignment with you.

            As an editor and proofreader, I hate the single space. Everybody talks about proportionate spacing, but it doesn’t actually capture what we 2-spacers miss about actual distance between sentences. And what drives me batty is that the size of the space after periods should be recognizably larger than that after commas. It is not.

            What really gets me, though, is that people speak about this like it’s evolutionary fact (two spaces is obsolete and defunct due to new technology), when it is more like language (adopters of new rules live side by side with adherents to the old, and new language learned can pick up either depending in where they are situated). Personally, I acknowledge the expectation and try to write to it in public-facing documents (hello find-and-replace), but I reject the finger-wagging articles and any claims that proportional spacing either necessitates or even makes desirable the single-space convention. People have gotten used to seeing less space between sentences and now it seems uglier to them not to have single spacing, but moving from that to claims of empirical superiority is quite a leap (and I would chalk that up to pot-stirring articles, honestly).

            I have tried and tried to switch to single spaces over the last two years, but that just means that my writing is inconsistent or else takes extra time, because my old training kicks in on every third or fourth period. Now I rely on find/replace for public-facing documents and figure my friends and family can lump it if they are judging me.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              And what drives me batty is that the size of the space after periods should be recognizably larger than that after commas. It is not.

              I think this is what bugs me about it.

              1. Koko*

                But why “should” it be? It’s just an aesthetic preference. Some people think 1 space looks crowded, some people thing 2 spaces looks disjointed. There’s really no “should” here.

            2. Ellie A.*

              Bravo! *gives you a standing ovation*

              People have gotten used to seeing less space between sentences and now it seems uglier to them not to have single spacing, but moving from that to claims of empirical superiority is quite a leap (and I would chalk that up to pot-stirring articles, honestly).


        1. Miss Betty*

          And in our law firm, we went to single spaces several years ago, mostly because of the book Typography for Lawyers by Matthew Butterick (he also has a website of the same name). I have to admit, since the partners began following this book, our letters and pleadings look better than what many other firms in town produce. (I’ve even seen some that our directly copying our format.)

      3. Anonicorn*

        I judge it negatively partly because most of my workplace’s writing ends up in an online format and partly because when everyone else is single-spacing, that one double-spacer screws up our document standardization. The same is true of serial commas, but that’s a whole different can of worms.

          1. Anonicorn*

            While I fully endorse the Oxford comma and wish everyone else did, I recognize its exodus from many style guides.

              1. maggie*

                I reserve the right to use it whenever I see fit. Which, oddly, is about 50% of the time. I reserve it for social writing, while anything work related it’s omitted intentionally (because I am scared of judgement, though nobody would likely care).

                1. Beebs*

                  Oxford Comma for life!

                  While I will die on that hill, one or two spaces after a period doesn’t even register on my give-a-crap meter. I didn’t even know it was a thing.

                2. Cath in Canada*

                  My sister and I are strongly divided on the Oxford comma (I’m pro, she’s con), but in very strong agreement on single spacing. We’ve had to learn to embrace the latter situation and somehow manage to grin and bear the former…

          2. Feliciti*

            Agreed! You don’t have to use the Oxford comma, unless you want to be clear. If you don’t mind making your reader stop and, irritated, reread to figure out what a comma would have made clear in the first place, by all means omit the Oxford comma.

      1. Cruella Da Boss*

        I took typing in the 80’s too. My typing teacher would mark through the missed space with a red pencil. Sometimes it looked like a little sea of red flags. It’s a hard habit to get out of now.

      2. Scott M*

        Same here. Also, I never notice the difference! Is it only the single-spacers who notice double paced sentences? (FYI, this comment was double-spaced – I just can’t stop doing it)

    7. JoAnna*

      There are also macros that do this (Google will find them easily). If you tie one to a button or keyboard shortcut, you can do the find/replace even more quickly.

    8. Lefty*

      Wait. We switched from 2 spaces to only 1? When did that happen? Seriously, I’ve never heard anything about that changing.

      1. penny*

        Yeah this is blowing my mind, I had no clue and still double space (I’m 31 fwiw). I’ve seen some people single space but assume this is in error. I’ll still stick with a double, makes reading things easier. The only time I single space is texting/on the phone but imo text type does not equate to proper punctuation or grammar.

        Either way no one in business or otherwise has ever commented on it to me and I’d never presume someone’s age by it.

        1. Anonsie*

          Never once have either of you heard of this? Single space has been standard for so long, I’m only slightly younger than you penny and it was all single spacing all the time by the time I was in school. Two spaces is generally now considered an error and I definitely notice when I get documents with it. I even know from memory who I work with that requires a find+replace whenever I’m proofing something of theirs because they occasionally lapse into double spacing and then the docs are inconsistent.

      2. Koko*

        All of you who are commenting here saying you’re double-spacers – are you editing yourself to single-space for this comments discussion, or is the blog’s style stripping out extra spaces?

    9. Phyllis*

      I know what you mean. Back when dinosaurs when roamed the earth, that was the rule. I still have to remind myself about not indenting five spaces for a paragraph.
      I went back to college in the nineties and had some classmates that couldn’t type so would ask me to type their papers for them. One teacher (who was a friend of mine) was a stickler for everyone doing their own work. One of the ladies was quite a bit older and asked me to type her speech notes for her. I asked his permission and he said OK as long as I didn’t edit her grammar, ect. When she got her grade back, he said everything was fine, but she indented SEVEN spaces instead of five. (The library typewriter I was using was mal-functioning and I didn’t realize it.) I later told him I thought being a bit too picky.

    10. weird name gal*

      but it says the 6th edition of the APA is going BACK to two spaces….maybe I’m confused…..

  2. Adam*

    #4 I wonder when this stopped being taught universally. I learned to type in elementary school on a really boxy Apple computer, but my first and only typing class was in the sixth grade using typewriters and I don’t remember the double space being a thing. After that grade it was straight to computers for the rest of my life.

    1. Mike C.*

      Alison mentioned it, but it has to do with the widespread use of proportional width fonts after a certain time period. Before, every character was the same width so you needed the visual change of two spaces. Now you don’t.

        1. OhNo*

          You can set some versions of Word to catch it, actually. There’s an option in the spelling/grammar check that will catch either single or double spaces in your documents. You can even set it as an autocorrect if you want (which I know because I’ve done that on my work computer – their writing style requires single space, and I always end up doing double).

      1. Natalie*

        In the 90s, in particular, I suspect the age of one’s typing teacher was probably also a factor. Teachers that had learned on typewriters and weren’t reading the latest font news were probably teaching double-space for years after it was necessary.

        1. cuppa*

          Or were adamant that it should still be two spaces no matter what. Now that I think about it, I remember my English teacher in junior high talking about this, and he was pretty adamant that we keep two spaces, so I think it was reinforced for me until I was told differently.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yes! I think some people were taught it, but not taught the why of it, and passed it along because they didn’t realize it was rooted in older technology. They thought it was something more akin to an absolute grammar rule, or manners.

        2. INTP*

          I had a 30-something computer teacher (he also taught programming classes, so he wasn’t tech-oblivious) in the early 00s and was taught double spaces.

          1. chump with a degree*

            Lordy, it’s the 21st century and we are still talking about typing.

            I have noticed we dinosaurs that learned on a typewriter (manual on my first job) tend to pound the keys hard to make them work.

            1. INTP*

              I do that sometimes but it’s because I have all kinds of junk in my laptop keyboard and sometimes there’s a crumb or something in the way of pressing a button, LOL. I sometimes won’t notice until I’ve typed an entire sentence without any As in it, so I developed the habit of pressing extra hard just in case.

              I do think that learning typing is a good skill. I’ve noticed that my younger siblings and cousins who went through school 10 years or so after me and never had to learn home row keys and all that jazz don’t type very quickly. It may not be necessary to use all the same conventions to keep the keys from sticking or whatever the reasoning was, but it still helps you to type more efficiently, and therefore keep up with notes in class or write papers more quickly.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I was fascinated by OP #4’s comment given that s/he is young enough to have missed the typewriter era; then it occurred to me that people my age who grew up on typewriters never got the memo that the world has moved past Courier.

      1. dragonzflame*

        Nah, I’m roughly the same age as OP and I was also taught that rule circa 1997 – by a teacher who was about 25. I think it will die out as the younger people who were taught by double-spacers relearn the modern conventions, but you only know what you were taught.

        1. Cat*

          I was forced to retype a paper using two spaces on computer in, umm, 1995. It stuck out in my mind. I still use them because I think it makes it look more readable plus habit. Plus, using two spaces automatically puts a period in on my phone and tablet, which is going to keep up the practice among younger people.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Whoa! I didn’t know that about two spaces = a period. I just typed a test text, and it totally worked! (I’m inordinately excited about this; I may never use the period key on my phone again).

          2. Christy*

            Oh I would disagree with that. For me, at least can the first space is the period and the second space is the actual space. I think it’s the same for many people, since it’s only two taps total.

                1. Chinook*

                  “Maybe people of the future will just use two spaces and no period. :)”

                  Um, is it wrong that I have been known to do that now when I switch between my smartphone (which has the autofill for the period – thank you BB) and my tablet (where the touch screen doesn’t) when mulittasking? It never happens on a real keyboard, though.

          3. Haleyca*

            I’m 22 and I was taught the double space thing too – in computer typing class when I was so young that I don’t even explicitly remember being told to, it has just always been there. I’ve never really though about it or asked other people about it – except for on one final writing assignment (I was 15, so in 2008) we were explicitly told to two spaces and I realized that everyone else hadn’t been doing so all along. I didn’t realize it was something that people might judge me for. The phone shortcut definitely reinforces the two spaces for me – I’m using it right now.

      2. Kat M*

        I’m 31 and was taught to double space in sixth grade typing class, even though we started on word processors in elementary school and worked up to proper computers for middle school. I just assume my instructor (or maybe her instructor) had been taught on a typewriter. Things like this definitely get passed on.

        That being said, it only took me about two weeks to retrain myself. I was in my twenties at the time. If you’re not a writer or in marketing, I won’t judge you for it, but I’ll be annoyed with having to go through and edit your extra spaces out.

      3. Ash (the other one)*

        I never used a typewriter in my typing class — old Apple 2’s for the win! But, I was taught to do double spaces too, and it is a hard habit to break. I am an exceptionally fast typist, however, so I deal with it and find/replace when I need to. I am having to consciously not do double spaces right now, btw.

        1. Chinook*

          “I never used a typewriter in my typing class — old Apple 2’s for the win!”

          Born in the 70’s and used Radio Shack CoCo 1’s (we had a CoCo 2 at home) for my typing class (which were great because I knew how to program the typing program with my own sentences *evil grin*). I didn’t actually have to use a typewriter until university in the 90’s because a) it was much, much cheaper to buy than a word processer (but not worth the frustration) and b) the library I worked at during my last year (1997) was old school with catalogue cards and spine labels and only had a manual typewriter to create them with. At that point, double space really hurt my thumb.

    3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I’m nearly 25 and was never taught double-space (and used to be really WTF at my mum doing it until I realised it’s how everyone used to me taught!)

    4. Samantha*

      I was taught to double space in junior high typing class (on computers), and this was still the standard at my college when I was there just 5 years ago. So I don’t think it’s just “older people.”

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I was never taught this, but I think it’s because I never took a typing class! Seems like the people who do this regularly were given outdated lessons. Oddly, when I was 8 years old I got a typewriter for my birthday because I liked to write stories, and I don’t remember ever double-spacing after a period, though I may have done it.

    6. Felicia*

      I learned to type in grade 5…so 2001, and I wasn’t taught the double space things. It probably varies by school and region, but it probably became less and less common and now it’s probably only taught by an older teacher.

    7. JC*

      I’m 33 and was taught to use two spaces, even though I never learned to type on an actual typewriter.

    8. Laufey*

      I was taught in middle and high school (in the later 90s, early 2000s) that people used to double space after periods because of typewriters, but that’s not needed now, so don’t do it. My boss, on the other hand, believes that people that don’t space twice after periods are the spawn of satan, so I had to teach myself to do so upon entering the working world. The kicker? All of our reports used justified text formatting, so the number of spaces after a period doesn’t matter. At all.

    9. Elsajeni*

      I was taught to double-space in elementary and junior high typing classes, roughly 1993-1999 and all taught on computers; my teachers were older and had presumably been taught on typewriters, and in the junior high class, where we had an actual textbook, the textbooks were also kind of old (and even if they had been new, textbooks are slow enough to change that I imagine they were one of the last bastions of the double space). I still catch myself doing it sometimes when I’m typing in Word or similar, but I trained myself out of it in writing to be posted online (blog posts, comment boxes, etc.) back when I was posting on LiveJournal in high school — I can’t recall whether it was that I noticed that double spaces automatically got stripped out, or that they came through but looked weird, but I stopped doing it.

    10. Anna*

      I learned how to type on an old school typewriter and that is where I learned two spaces. Just recently I trained myself out of the habit. Now when I accidently put in two spaces, it looks weird to me. And I’ve been typing for…a long time.

  3. Mike C.*

    If you find yourself doing the double space thing in a modern word processor, do a find/replace. Set your search term as “. _ _” (the _ are spaces for clarity) and your replace term as “. _”. That will take all of three seconds to fix even a large document.

    1. M-C*

      And more to the point 1) it doesn’t matter 2) with proportional fonts it’s practically invisible to the naked eye 3) retrain yourself if you wish, but it’s really not worth the energy to agonize over it.

      1. jag*

        “with proportional fonts it’s practically invisible to the naked eye ”

        Oh, some of us can notice it with any common typeface, including proportional fonts, at normal sizes in print.

        And if something is show at large size, such as in a poster or in a projected presentation, it’s even more noticeable.

        Plus there are many elements of design that most people don’t consciously notice, but in aggregate affect their perception of what they’re looking at.

        If the OP’s job involves external communications – producing final versions of written material for external consumption or consumption by large internal audiences, they should work on this. Re-training themselves and/or using find/replace. I don’t do it much, but I still use find/replace as a quick check at the end before proofreading, just in case (particularly when material I produce involves some text from other sources).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I definitely notice it (and regularly do a find/replace on it with letters to AAM when people include it because it bugs me). I don’t judge anyone for it — loads of people (of all ages) still do it because that’s how they were taught — but it definitely jumps out to me as mildly wrong.

          1. KJR*

            I typed something for my 18 year old daughter last week, and she asked, “What is with the two spaces after your periods?? I heard some older people still do that.” I had NO idea you weren’t supposed to do it anymore. I did learn on a typewriter though. Gosh I feel ancient!

            1. same*

              Same here. I never knew it was “wrong” until I read this today! I’m 43 and learned how to type in 9th grade on an electric typewriter. <Notice I am still using the two spaces. I will rebel!

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                Sure, but the formatting on the comment entry converts the two spaces to one, so your rebellion isn’t visible. I was excited to use an electric typewriter when I took typing in 7th grade, but then had to go back to the 80 lb manual beast I had after that point. One of the saddest points in my life was when word processors started to exist, just after I finished writing my last college paper.

                1. maggie*

                  “but the formatting on the comment entry converts the two spaces to one, so your rebellion isn’t visible. ” WHAT?! I never even noticed! Dang, Alison sure is serious about the single spacing… O.o

        2. Scott M*

          Weird, I just cannot see the difference in a regular paragraph.

          This. Is. Double-space
          This. Is. Not.

          It barely stands out for me

      2. Tenley*

        I found it really easy to retrain myself — there’s only one space between words, for one thing, so it’s not like I wasn’t already doing single spacing several times in a sentence leading up to the period.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        If you’re creating web content it definitely matters. A double space will usually be coded as one blank space and one non-breaking space (nbsp), which is a special HTML character that should be used sparingly if at all. Non-breaking spaces (whose function should be self-evident from the name) can cause weird word-wraps, and with mobile platforms making up more and more of the web views each year, you really shouldn’t code your text to have a fixed layout. You want to make it as responsive as possible, and nbsps are the opposite of responsive.

        Although if you have a webmaster like me, they probably use find and replace to remove all of your nbsps from your content without even telling you before letting it get published. :)

        1. OhNo*

          Really? I’ve never had my extra spaces after a period show up in the actual web page content at all. Is this only in certain editors or something? Or would it only show up if you have a certain kind of browser, or have it configured a certain way?

          Now I’m going to look back at some of the old websites I made and see if I can spot any anomalies.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Yes, it may depend on how you create the content. I run into it all the time. I just wanted to point out that forcing two spaces in HTML can cause problems with words not wrapping, because nbsps are treated like letters, not spaces, for the purposes of line breaks.

        2. Brett*

          Though it is important to also note that more and more content managers are using markdown, where a double space to end a line is converted to a newline, while a single space is always treated as non-breaking whitespace even if followed by a new line.

          This is actually leading to a newer typing convention of always ending paragraphs and hard breaks with double-spaces and placing two spaces on empty lines. (Which is actually what I always do while typing now.)

        3. teclatwig*

          (Psst. Deep down, I have this conspiracy theory that it’s coding and tech people who hated the double-spaces period and set out to convince the world that it was unnecessary, obsolete, and laughable.)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Please remain where you are. The black vans and helicopters are converging upon your IP address location.


          2. jag*

            No, it’s more visually oriented people such as designers. And really, it was typists on typewriters who are the the problem – when we write by hand we space letters proportionately and so a single space is enough. Ditto with most good fonts on computers (apart from fixed-width fonts). It was simply a period when typewriters were in use that the two space thing became common – a relatively brief period compared to handwriting.

            1. Judy*

              Well, Wikipedia “sentence spacing” article says that many typesetters used to use a different sized “space” for the end of a sentence that was 1.5 of the word spaces, and that’s why the typewritten texts put in two.

              It’s a visual style thing. And studies are inconclusive about readability of the different styles.

        4. Oryx*

          I have ALWAYS wondered about that when my blog posts format things wrong. I apparently accidentally threw a double space in there. Thank you!

        5. Vera*

          Really? I’ve never seen or use a program that codes two spaces as an space plus a non-breaking space. Maybe that’s because I never knew about double spaces, until two years ago when I had two American programmers in my team, and they used double spaces in every comment, mail, document they wrote or edited. :D I was so clueless about it, that after changing every single file in the code, I went to their desks to ask them “why do you do that? It’s horrible!”. I was very embarrassed when they told me they were taught that’s the proper way. But I managed to convince them to use only one space. It was the first time, writing code with programmers from Latin America, Spain, Germany, France and Portugal, that I’ve seen double spaces.

    2. ChristinaW*

      Will this fix the triple- and quadruple-spaces though? I honestly find plenty of those in the work of my colleagues who are double-spacers.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Run the find/replace that Mike specified multiple times – until it comes up with “0 found.” That will catch all the extra spaces.

        1. Headachey*

          Do this instead and you only need to run it once:

          Open Find/Replace; check “Use wildcards.”
          In the Find field, enter . {2,5} (that’s period, space, bracket, etc.)
          In the Replace field, enter . (period, space).
          Hit Replace All.

          Don’t forget the colons! You can run the same find/replace using a colon instead of a period.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      To add to Mike C’s great advice, you can also set up Word’s grammar rules for one space only. It will flag the extra spaces with one of those green squiggly underlines. Annoying at first, but it will help you re-train yourself.

    4. Annie*

      I had a client ask me to go through a report and change all the single spaces to double spaces. It is much harder to do that than to go the other way!

    5. Nerdling*

      I’ve done this before when I was training myself into using a single space (almost 30, never used a typewriter, taught to double-space all throughout school, and never heard it mentioned when it came to formatting in college).

      For me, in all honesty, I rarely notice on our documents at work. We have enough formatting issues with our systems of record that whether someone single- or double-spaced their sentences is not even remotely on my radar. It’s generally more “Did the system decide to throw out some random weird characters in place of spaces when this person double-spaced their paragraphs?” or “How did I type in latitude and longitude and get back gibberish after the document was uploaded into the system?”

  4. Kathlynn*

    I’m only 25, and I was taught to double space when writing on computers by one teacher. I don’t remember if any other teacher reminded us of this, but I was always just too forgetful to get into the habit of it (especially since I never got into trouble for not double spacing sentences).
    Then again Grammar has never been something I’m strong on. (I’m really bad for run on sentences, and using “it” when I shouldn’t).

    1. Nina*

      Same here, although I’m 31. Never heard about this from any college professor (despite having written so many papers) or even at the newspaper where I worked.

      1. Laura2*

        Same here. None of my journalism professors cared about this or even mentioned it and it wasn’t until I started working in marketing that I heard about it.

  5. katamia*

    For OP5, are you applying to similar jobs where you could use the article as an example of your skills in the future? If so, it might not be a bad idea, although I agree with Alison that it’s poor form.

  6. MsM*

    #2: I’ve found “I quit counting after 20” (or 30, at this point) does a pretty good job of getting people to laugh it off and change the subject.

    1. M-C*

      #2, I feel for you. I’m not sure you’ll be amused to hear that people now seem skeptical that I’d still be standing at my advanced age :-). But seriously, my standard response since the time I looked like (and truly was) a baby has been “why? How old are YOU anyway?”. Works best imho because it shows that you know it’s just prejudice, that they don’t like it when it’s applied to them, and that they usually have absolutely no authority to be asking you personal questions. I’ve hardly ever had anyone respond with their age, but when they do it’s usually fine to give them mine.

      1. MK*

        The “how old are you anyway?” might not be a good idea if the OP is dealing with clients or other people they cannot afford to antagonise. It can come across as hostile or rude, depending on tone and I actually think it is unnecessarily adversarial, unless you know for sure the other person is being offensive. Saying “I am 22. Why do you ask?” serves the same purpose without coming across as rude.

        OP, I understand your frustration, but I think you need to keep in mind two things. One, 22 really does sound too young to have the kind of role you describe. It’s not crazy for people to wonder about it; I agree they shouldn’t remark on it, but it’s a pretty natural reaction, and people have been conditioned to think noting someone’s youth is complimentary. Two, it’s probably the constant repetition that’s annoying, but people are not responsible for all the others.

        1. Cheesecake*

          I agree, saying “why? and how old are YOU?” is just..no. I mean, you don’t want to exchange rudeness (assuming age question came across really nasty). When appropriate i answer and ask “what about you?” to keep a conversation moving. I never ask “why would you like to know?”, i assume they had a good reason to ask and that saves me a lot of nerves :)

          In Europe 22 can be too young for a profi office job, because people study looooong. I have friends who had their 1st jobs at 27-30. So people ask because they are genuinely interested to know how it is possible.

        2. Anna H.*

          One, 22 really does sound too young to have the kind of role you describe. It’s not crazy for people to wonder about it; I agree they shouldn’t remark on it, but it’s a pretty natural reaction, and people have been conditioned to think noting someone’s youth is complimentary.

          Is it that natural of a reaction? It’s never occurred to me to ask someone’s age in a professional situation, unless maybe it’s their birthday. The thing is, no matter what the person’s age, they ARE in that role, and they must be for a reason, and even if you think they shouldn’t have that job, they do, and you as the professional need to shut up and deal with it. What good comes out of it?

          I am totally not someone who started a fairly prestigious job at 25 and has had to deal with condescending old men.

          1. MK*

            I am someone who at 28 came into a position of authority (and a considerable amount of power) over high-powered professionals over twice my age. Yes, I think it is a natural reaction; note, I said it’s natural to wonder, not to ask someone’s age.

    2. ReanaZ*

      I have the advantage of having always come off older than I am (which is a really, really great advantage as a first a teacher and now a woman in IT), so I’ve never had to deal with this. But I had a friend who always pulled in off with a gracious humor by saying, “Oh, now, you know it’s rude to ask a lady her age!” Or if she was really turning on the Southern charm, “Didn’t your mama teach you should never ask a lady that?”

      It’s got a weird archaic, gendered vibe to it in general, but it sounded very natural and playful and appropriate when she said it. It was a good light-hearted deflection in the tone/personality she delivered it in (although it might vary regionally as well).

      1. Cleopatra Jones*

        I’ve always said a variation of that when someone asks how old I am. I usually say, ‘old enough to know not to answer that question.’ Said with a smile of course.

      2. Anonsie*

        I usually go for “a lady never tells” because joking in a way that makes me seem insecure about my age makes people read me as being older than I am, which is exactly what I want them to think. Muahahaha

    3. WorkingMom*

      A good response I have used in the past, if the comment is along the lines of “you look so young” or something similar. Smile and say “oh you know, cleaning living!” laugh and move on. This works well for me, since I am the wellness industry, so it’s an appropriate way to laugh it off without actually commenting on your age.

      1. Anonsie*

        We had a misunderstanding at work recently where someone thought I was telling them I had kids in college, which is quite impossible. I joked that I was actually 65 and my secret is eating lots of vegetables.

    4. OhNo*

      That’s what I usually say, too. Although for me, it’s actually true. Someone asked me how old I was a few weeks ago and I actually had to take a minute and count it out in my head because I stopped paying attention somewhere along the line. Once I passed 21, keeping track of the exact number didn’t really seem important anymore.

    5. Ann without an e*

      Look at them smile and say, “about your age only I use moisturizer and sunscreen,” and nod until they go away.

      You could say, “Oh I’m very young, I’m also a genius, you know like that old TV show with the kid doctor with NPH in it……” Although don’t use that one for large training groups.

      You are young…..wear moisturizer and sunscreen, drink lots of water, do yoga, don’t stress it gives you wrinkles.

    6. Sabrina*

      I just smile and say “Old enough to know not to answer that question.” Not that I’ve had anyone ask in awhile. :\

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        Sadly I used to be asked this all the time but no longer. So I guess the OP should enjoy being young because it does change! :)

    7. blackcat*

      My go to has always been “Old enough to know what I’m doing” said with a smile.

      I swear I did not age between 14 and 26–most people assumed I was about 18 for all 12 of those years if I was dressed casually. But I could easily pull off not getting questioned my most by how I dressed and carried myself (this was important when I was volunteering for a start up non-profit doing management and fundraising. I worked with some folks for a couple of years before they found out I was in high school. The “Where did you go to school?” question always caught me! Donors would get a bit antsy when they realized they had handed over a big check after being convinced by a 16 year old.).

      Haircuts/styles matter BIG TIME in how old you appear. I encourage OP #2 to think about how she can change her hair cut or go to style to look more mature. Skills I got from being a theater kid included how to make 15 year old me appear either 30 or 12, at least from a distance.

      1. Recent Grad*

        I’m 23, and I get this a lot too. Usually there are two categories: people who are genuinely mistaken and a little embarrassed that they thought you were an intern/someone’s kid, and people who follow up with a snide comment. At a conference I had someone try to take my wine glass away from me because they thought I wasn’t old enough! And I’ve found “Actually, I’ve been out of school for a few years” to be the easiest, most diplomatic response.

        1. Another recent grad*

          I’m 24 and I’m regularly asked what grade I’m in. I was taking my younger brother to see colleges a few years ago when he was a high school senior, and people would ask me what grade I was in and if I was looking at colleges yet? I would just be like “Oh, I just graduated from college” and move on.

          I also lost about 50 lbs and got some bags under my eyes in my last year of college / first year of working and now people usually believe I’m 18. haha

          I’m 5’8″ but basically have the figure of a teenage boy. People also assume I’m male sometimes, which is actually less awkward for me but probably more awkward for them. I get called “sir” a lot and especially over the phone (although obviously that’s for a different reason).

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’m on the opposite spectrum (getting a bit long in the tooth, but looking younger than I am), and both I and my spouse have been accused of never aging. He can claim with a straight face to be in his early 30s and people will believe him. Part of it is that our hair styles haven’t changed, and since we don’t have a lot of grey or wrinkles yet, we look unchanged.

        But, when people say something about not aging, I just claim we have a portrait in the attic that is looking old. Most people have no clue what we’re talking about. That would work for when you really are young and look young too. Tell them you’re 83, and you have a portrait in the attic that looks that old, too. Most people won’t understand the reference, but also won’t want to ask more questions and admit that.

        1. fposte*

          I’m liking the meta-Wildeism here–your looks don’t reveal your age, but knowing about the concept of the portrait in the attic does.

        2. Anonsie*

          Whenever I find out someone is significantly older than they look I always ask if there’s a painting of them somewhere that’s getting older. People get it like 75% of the time, I guess.

      3. Ife*

        The confidence, hairstyle and dress are bug factors. I am also one of those people who is mid 20s but looks about 18 (doesn’t help that I’m thin and 4’11…) and get the “how old are you?” question way too often. The most fun time was when someone thought my boyfriend was my father.
        My advice for OP is (1) see if a friend or hairstylist can give you advice about a haircut to make you look older. This helped a lot for me. (2) sadly, wearing bold and fun clothes will tend to make you look more like a teenager, so be concious of that when choosing work clothes. (3) Be mentally prepared for the fact that people are going to ask how old you are, and try to accept it. I am trying to retrain myself to respond politely, “Why do you ask?” Some people will ignore the cue and ask anyway, but some people will catch their rudeness and move on.

    8. Sleepyhead*

      I still occasionally get this (I’m 29). I’ve been at my workplace for almost 10 years, which is a nice buffer to have. Usually when people say something or ask I’ll say, “I get comments all the time, but I’m older than I look.” Or “I’ve been with the organization for 10 years, in my position for 5.” I do a little laugh or say “I’m my mother’s daughter” and that’s usually good enough. Although in a few months I’ll be happy when I can say, “I am in my 30’s”.

      There are a few reasons I don’t just say my age – one is privacy for the type of work I do, and another is because some people will hear the number and then decide you can’t do a good job based on that. Confidence is key – if you look embarrassed that they’re asking it makes you look younger and unprofessional. If you answer with confidence, no matter your answer, you put the other person at ease too.

      1. Nerdling*

        I ran into this a lot when I was younger. Heck, even now I still get carded at the liquor store from time to time. I’ve found I have the best luck by emphasizing how long I’ve been in the role over how old I actually am, although that then generates some questions about how old I was when I came on board and just how long I have until I can retire (I don’t want to think about it, ok?), so it can be a double-edged sword sometimes. :)

    9. Pomy tailed wonder*

      I used to get that a lot and I would just add ten years to my age. Then if they expressed wonder, I would mention that this is what age 35 (or what ever) looks like. Occasionally I would add something about living right and making good choices . . . Now I tell my real age and people think I look too young for real . . .

  7. Hannah*

    #4: I wouldn’t notice (or if I did I wouldn’t be bothered) if you did this in email. But in my job a person who authors a lot of templates does the double space thing, and that does really drive me crazy because I am a perfectionist and feel like I have to ‘fix’ her templates before I can even use them. It is so minor that it feels petty to say something to her, but I do find it annoying. I also sometimes have to work with other old Word documents, and I have to remember to fix double spaces because they look terrible in other software.

    So I would say try to break the habit if you can, if there’s amy chance that down the line something you’re writing might be republished or reused in some way. Why create an issue that you or someone else may later need to fix.

  8. Student*

    If you can’t break the habit, then try fixing it in editing.

    After you finish your document, do a find & replace all on double-spaces to fix them as single spaces. One click, all double spaces obliterated.

  9. jhhj*

    #3 Why don’t you turn the fan off when you leave your desk? There’s no reason to leave it running if it irritates your boss and you aren’t there to take advantage of the nice breeze.

    1. M-C*

      #3 I agree – turn the fan off when you aren’t using it, and try to talk to your boss about leaving it on when you’re there. Also, you might try taking formal outdoor “cool-off breaks”, you know, as if you smoked but to allow you to breathe instead :-).

      1. BRR*

        As someone who also runs hot, cool-off breaks aren’t enough. They’ll work for a little bit but for me I would need to get up every 5-10 minutes to battle an overheated (in my opinion) office. The fan is the compromise. I just wonder how loud it is. I have a tiny vornado fan that I got for $15 bucks at target (recognizing the OP is likely not in the US) and not only is it super effective but it’s quiet.

    2. LBK*

      He does say he turns it off when he’s not at his desk – end of the first sentence of the second paragraph.

    3. INTP*

      Yup. If this is a point of contention in the office, insisting that it run when you aren’t even at your desk makes it look like a pissing contest for you. Show that you’re willing to be considerate in ways that don’t cause you discomfort and people are more likely to do the same for you. Or ask people what in particular annoys them about your fan and consider getting one that is quieter, smaller and more concentrated, positioning it behind or to the side of you so it doesn’t blow straight behind you onto people walking by, etc. It seems like at this point it’s a battle of wills and not JUST about the fan, for both sides, so show that you’re willing to compromise and you may be surprised by how attitudes change.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree, but I wonder how long the OP has to be away for someone to turn it off. I agree with you if we’re talking about three hour meetings, but if we’re talking about a quick bathroom break or going to grab something from the printer, I think that’s ridiculous.

    4. Labratnomore*

      25°C is an atypically high tempurature (that is 77 °F) for people in Minnesota. I think 70 +/- 2°F (21°C)is typical around here for homes and offices. If I asked my faculities people to have the temp that warm they would think I was crazy. In the summer when it is hot and humid here I think the temp. norms stay about the same. Even those that try to save money by keeping the temp up would rarly go above 75°F.
      I am wondering if it is the noise that bothers others more than the air movement, Could that be?

      1. YaH*

        Agreeeeeeee. It’s absurd to have an office temp of 77 degrees. Our classroom thermostats won’t let us adjust them above 74 or below 68. First off, it’s ridiculously wasteful, and second, you’ve then got people who have to dress in about twelve layers in order to wear a temperature-appropriate outfit for the outdoor temps and a temperature-appropriate outfit for the indoor temps.

    5. Nerdling*

      That would probably be reasonable if the LW is gone for long periods of time, but what if the boss is turning it off while s/he is in the bathroom? Or grabbing a drink of water? I don’t think there’s a reason to turn it off every single time s/he leaves the desk.

      Also, I’ll be honest. I’m always cold, but by the time the office hits 77*, everyone around me needs a fan. That’s definitely on the high side of normal, and I don’t blame the LW for needing it cooler.

      1. jhhj*

        I’ve had fans. It takes almost no time to turn it off, even when you are just heading to the printer. Is it excessive that the boss wants it off? Yes. Will it help reduce friction at no cost to the OP? Most likely.

        I agree also that the office sounds unpleasantly hot.

  10. Dan*

    #2: I’m 25 and just started a job as a professor at a community college–I’m as old as the average student. I also have students who are old enough to be my parent.

    It’s not appropriate for students to explicitly ask the age of their professors, but the fact that I’m young does come up from time to time. I’ve found the best way to deal with the situation is to more or less embrace it. I generally smile and agree with them, because, well, I am young.

    By being matter-of-fact about my age, I think I’ve diffused awkward situations, and gained respect (especially from the older students!) If you have an air about you that your age isn’t particularly important, other people will pick up on that and generally respect it (especially if you do good work).

    Caveat: I am a man. I am 100% sure that this is a harder battle for women.

    1. A*

      I’m a woman but I still get this at 30. I’ve always answered my age if asked directly but I think the key really is to conduct yourself like your age is not an issue at all, because it’s not. And it’s a problem that goes away with time (both because you yourself will get older and also because people will get used to it).

    2. A Reader*

      I’m in the IT field and apparently have a very young look to me as well. And though I’ve been working with some very big named companies and excelling at what I do. However, I still get the feeling from many clients that they feel I’m too young and inexperienced, due to my appearance, to really be in the positions I’m given.

      I think it’s just the way things go with most people. It’s said a lot that “looks shouldn’t matter” but clearly they still play an enormous role in people’s opinions. Overall, I would say to do what Allison suggested, own up to it and be proud of how much you know/have accomplished at a younger age that others have.

    3. AVP*

      I’m a young-looking woman and got this a bunch when I first started in my current job.

      I hire a lot of freelancers, for job levels that tend to be a little more experienced, so I got a lot of “you’re how old?” and “You’re the youngest production manager I’ve ever had on a job like this!” In my case, though, I was more like 26 and totally owned it – be proud of the hard work that got you where you are! If you do your job well, they’ll take you seriously – I just thought of it as a slightly higher version of the bar that everyone has.

      And now everyone seems to be 22 so I don’t know what I missed!

      1. AVP*

        I have to say as an aside to the OP- good job on doing well at networking, that was the hardest for me when I was younger. I would go to events and everyone just assumed I was someone’s personal assistant or note-taker and I found it really hard to start conversations with interesting people (who probably wanted to meet people they saw as higher on the chain). I think I’m just getting the hang of that part now…

    4. bridget*

      I’m pretty young to be where I am in my profession as well, and I tend to act as if someone is giving me a compliment, like I’m some sort of wunderkind (and actually, most of the time they do mean it in that way). The people who are being rude about it feel awkward when I react that way.

    5. Chinook*

      “It’s not appropriate for students to explicitly ask the age of their professors, but the fact that I’m young does come up from time to time. I’ve found the best way to deal with the situation is to more or less embrace it. I generally smile and agree with them, because, well, I am young.”

      In my last year of university, I had a professor who was younger than me (by one year) but the issue I had with him wasn’t his age but his lack of experience. I was a B.Ed. taking an English course and I quickly realized that, even without my degree, I had more teaching experience (from my praticums) than he did and that I would end up spending my entire course mentally criticing how he was teaching (I noticed 10 “rookie” mistakes in the first class) and not concentrating on what he was teaching.

      My point is, sometimes the question “how old are you” could actually be a rude (in both senses of the word) way to ask “how is it possible for you to have the time to learn/experience the information you are supposed to have?” which I think can be a legit question to ask. After all, if Doogie Howser was my doctor, I would want to know how he knew what he did when he did so that I could be confident in his work.

      1. Dan*

        You have a valid point. My students do ask about my background in the subject, and my credentials seem to satisfy them (though as you point out, there is no real substitute for years of teaching experience). That being said, I do have students who know more than me at particular areas of physics–community colleges get students from quite a variety of backgrounds!

        Case in point, right now we’re talking about electricity; I have a couple of students who have worked as electricians. They can blow me out of the water with some of this stuff! But when push comes to shove, they haven’t really studied the subject from a physics perspective, so they still have a lot they can learn from me (and I learn from them, too).

    6. Nerdling*

      The first time I went out to happy hour with my coworkers when I started this job, the waitress took one look at me and said, “I’m gonna need to see your ID, because you look about 16.” I had probably been in the office a whole month at that point. Set the stage for lots of jokes, let me tell you. But it also taught me a lot about playing it off and how to deal with being told I look really young in front of different groups of people. It does get easier. Just own it!

  11. Nurse Ratched*

    Oh #1, I’ve been in that situation. Can you frame it in terms that your nurse manager is likely to really care about, like do you have more falls on shifts when she is working, or has your unit seen an increase in pressure ulcers? Do you and your co-workers have more incidental overtime and missed meal breaks because you’re doing tasks that should be delegated? Are you working an off shift where the nurse manager never sees this behavior, and would she be willing to come in for a surprise visit some shift? Don’t be afraid to tell your manager that you fear for your license, since you’re ultimately responsible for what you delegate to her, and since it’s not getting done, you’re taking on an unmanageable workload. Finally, as much as I hate this option, is there anything you could use to report her to the state registry? The inappropriate comments to patients and family could count. Good luck!!

    1. Jeanne*

      These are good ideas. Or anything else you can think of that is part of the metrics Medicare is now using. Hospitals have begun being punished for bad metrics so management should be focused on those. But if in the end management doesn’t care, can you ask for a rotation of CNAs so you don’t have the same problems every shift?

      I’m sorry. Most of the CNAs I’ve had for hospital stays have been great.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Yeah, any kind of customer satisfaction scores, Joint Commission results — direct feedback may be good here.

    2. some1*

      I like this comment, and I agree with Alison’s advice to ask what you are supposed to do about it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Really good ideas here. OP, if there is anything that is going to jeopardize the well-being of the patients or the safety of Lousy Worker’s cohorts, I would definitely document that. No way am I taking the hit for something that I have been working on and reporting right along. If you don’t have stuff in writing start now. Even keep a written record of verbal warnings- yes, that gets a little confusing but you can title it “Summary [Documentation] of a Verbal Warning give on X Date”.

      Hopefully, what is wrong here is that the high ups are too busy/distracted and do not see the whole story. Written documentation should lay it out in quite clearly for them.

    4. Labratnomore*

      I left a job because of someone like this once. My manager was “too nice” to fire the guy, even though he was a temp. to start with and it could have been easy to get rid of him. Once he was hired on I started job hunting. In addition to the suggestions above, it might be worth letting your boss know that the frustration is having more than just a minor impact on your moral. If they are concerned about keeping you this may tip them off that you would seariously consider leaving because of the frustrations you are caused by this.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        It’s such a frustrating spot to be in. I was just offered a “promotion” that was a total joke and I turned it down. I was asked to manage all of the other admins in a large division but of course for no extra money and the same title and no real power to do anything about problem employees. So I said thanks but no thanks and was very honest about my reason. They tried to get my coworker to take the role instead and she laughed in the HR person’s face and said “not in a million years or for a million dollars”.

    5. The Toxic Avenger*

      I like all these suggestions as well. If I were in your shoes, I would take Alison’s advice and lay it out for your leaders clearly as a last-ditch effort to get them to see common sense. If they won’t, I hate to say it, but I’m with Lab: start looking. The sad truth is, many managers would rather see a good employee hit the road, instead of removing a toxic one. It’s a weenie, head-in-the-sand move, to be sure, but if your leaders are like that, then no amount of impact statements, metrics, or facts will sway them. I have been where you are, OP. Hang in there.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree, and I also agree with Alison; if the OP can’t get them to respond to these issues, then her bosses are idiots. I wouldn’t want anyone like she describes taking care of me or anyone I care about.

    6. Gene*

      Also, any time you get a comment from a patient about her, ask them to please put it in writing to someone above your manager. Start the boulder rolling downhill instead of trying to play Sisyphus.

      1. Anonsie*

        Not a bad idea at all. If you have a patient survey already in place (my hospital has little brochures for comments and boxes all over and if you give specifics, they do track them and send them to your department heads) being ready to hand those over to anyone necessary is probably a good idea.

    7. Anonsie*

      Good ideas. If you have a system in place for reporting near-miss safety incidents, too, make sure everything applicable is going in there.

    8. LW #1*

      Thanks so much Alison and everyone else who had comments about this. I really like the idea of throwing the ball back to them with “what do you think I should do?” , because it puts some responsibility back on them and because that’s honestly what I want to know.

      It’s also a good idea to be more careful about phrasing my complaints in terms of patient safety and satisfaction, because I’m realizing they may have interpreted some of the (many, many, many) complaints about this woman as people having “drama” and personal conflicts with her, and not fully understood that this isn’t just someone with an annoying personality, she’s actually neglecting patients.

  12. Jeanne*

    The office temperature problem is the build a better mousetrap conundrum. If you can do it, you’ll make billions. But can it be done? Probably not. 25 degrees celcius is standard room temperature in lab experiments. I don’t believe it’s unusually hot. But if you’re feeling ill it’s a real problem. I think if you tell the boss you’re feeling ill he’ll let you keep the fan.

    1. Kimothy*

      Just a thought, how reasonable a temperature is might depend on region. OP is in Scotland, and believe me, 25 degrees in Scotland is the temperature you can expect in the middle of the summer!

      1. Rayner*

        My thought exactly – at home in the UK, I keep my central heating at 20-21 degrees. At work, it’s the same. My eighty year old grandparents keep theirs at 24 degrees.

        Working in a 25 degrees minimum office would be like a sauna for me. Unpleasant and very difficult to remain professional.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had to google 25 degrees C into degrees F.
          Seventy seven degrees- really???!! omg.

          I am one of the people who is the first one to say it is too cold. If I had to work in a 77 degree room, I would sleep most of the day. That warmth would put me right out. I totally get the sicky feeling that OP is talking about.

          I don’t know what to say OP, have you tried asking if you can bring in a doctor’s note? I would also try making peppermint tea at home and drinking cold at work. Peppermint can help settle a stomach. If none of that work, I would have to look for a new work place, because, yeah, the headaches and stomachs would make me pretty useless to my employer.

            1. Burlington*

              I run cold too…. I’ve kept apartments at 80 before. 77 would be pleasantly toasty for me.

              1. I'm a Little Teapot*

                I don’t even know what my apartment is kept at; I have a radiator I can’t turn all the way down, and even the lowest setting is sweltering in winter. I have a window open right now, in January in Boston.

                At least I don’t pay for the heat.

                I also run cold, and 25/77 wouldn’t bother me unless I were overdressed – but I’m pretty sure my apartment is hotter.

            2. Tris Prior*

              +1. I would LOVE that. The one good thing about Former Company is that my boss and I shared an office (with its own thermostat!) and she and I were both lovers of heat. It was fantastic. We didn’t put the AC on unless it was in the 90s outside, we cranked the heat, and we were both so happy. The one thing about that place that I miss. I don’t expect to ever find it again!

          1. INTP*

            I would love that temp if I was sitting at my desk all day. I must have bad circulation, my body seems to stop producing heat when I’m sedentary.

            If I had to get up and move around the room a lot, it would be a problem, though.

        2. Judy*

          The temperatures you mention are in line with what I’m used to in the US in the winter. 68-70 on the thermostat. 77 F on the thermostat in the winter would be broiling for me.

        3. Sabrina*

          We used to live in an apartment next door to an elderly couple that kept their place that hot. There was enough bleed over of heat that we didn’t have to turn our thermostat up as high. It was nice. Kind of miss them. But the couple of times I was in that place, yikes, I can’t even imagine living there, I would pass out.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, at my father’s retirement community you really could tell that a lot of people feel cold much more easily as they get older. (Including my father, who had once felt that any heat over 68 was basically indulgently burning money for warmth.)

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              68? My father keeps the heat in the low 60s, if that. I run cold…living at home was not fun in the winter. I couldn’t just put on a sweater and deal because my cold hands and face would make the rest of me feel cold too after a while.

              My brother’s even worse, though. We’d share a room on long visits to our grandparents as kids and have huge fights over the air conditioner. It would be 75 and breezy, and I’d crack a window open and bask in the perfection, AC-free. He’d turn the AC up to 10. Walking into the room when he’d been alone there for a while was like walking into a fridge.

          2. Gene*

            At one apartment, downstairs neighbor must have grown up on the Equator. in the two years living here, we never had to turn on the heat in the winter. And a warm floor when getting out of the shower? Wonderful!

      2. Tau*

        Actually, living in Scotland, 25 degrees is the temperature you can expect in the middle of summer during a serious heat wave. Normal summer temperatures run more along the lines of 17-19 degrees, I’d say. And I’m living in one of the warmer parts of Scotland!

        But very much +1 apart from that nitpick. What’s reasonable depends on climate and as a result reasonable temperatures in Scotland don’t go very high. Living here, I’ve definitely noticed my tolerance for heat decrease and would most likely no longer be able to cope well with 25 degrees indoors despite the fact that I could before I moved to Scotland.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, what you’re used to does change depending on the climate you’re living in. When I lived with an ex, we did not have central air conditioning in the house and only used the wall unit on days that were really beastly hot. Because the house was in the country and surrounded by trees and not pavement, it was tolerable. We had good cross ventilation. It was still hot, but not unbearably so. I got used to it and air-conditioned spaces would seem extra cold to me.

        2. Brisvegan*

          Woah, Tau, you are scaring this sub-tropics dweller! 17-19 C is freezing cold middle of winter temperature here in Brisbane, Australia. I am seriously uncomfortably cold at that temperature. That is big winter coat weather.

          25C is a coolish balmy spring day here. It is a very pleasant temperature, but I am very happy with maximums over that for about 8 months of the year. Lately, in our summer, we don’t get under 25C at night and are hovering at 32-40C during the day. (Yes, 40C does suck, very much.) Apparently, our share of global climate change includes a great big serving of heat.

          Most people here run their air conditioning at about 22-25C. Winter heating would be the same in buildings with some sort of heating system (not everyone has central heating).
          Where winter heating falls down to 20-21C, many people I know would have a little heater under their desk. Office heating is definitely about acclimatisation.

          Having said that, as a woman of “a certain age,” too much heat would have me in a welter of sweat and red as a beat, so I sympathise with the OP. I just set “too hot” higher because of my climate. It is very hard to get cooler when you are too hot, so a mini-fan is a good compromise. Could you also use a hand held fan (the old fashioned waving type)? What about a water spray mist or a scented face mist spray? They can help too, for at least a few minutes.

          Good luck OP. This is a battle for the ages!

    2. GOG11*

      I am perpetually cold (thanks, fail thyroid) and I never turn my heat up that high, at home or in the office. And I’d actually enjoy that temperature…until I had to move around at all and then I’d be overheated. I feel for the OP, and I’m one of those cold blooded individuals who is always cold in the office (though I wouldn’t be in that office, for sure).

    3. blackcat*

      Whomever decided that 25 would be the T in STP (standard temperature and pressure) made a bad call. In many lab settings you NEED things to be 20 or cooler (less likely to create contamination).

    4. Cath in Canada*

      That’s only what “room temperature” means in certain countries! In other places, “room temperature” in a lab protocol means 20C; that’s what I was taught working in research in the UK, and what I found to be generally accepted in my Canadian postdoc lab too.

      I didn’t actually know that some people use 25C as “room temperature” until I worked for a company that made research reagents and kits, and we had complaints about some new protocols not working the US. No complaints at all from Canada/Europe/Japan. The troubleshooting revealed that it’s because US labs tended to be warmer.

  13. Jennifer M.*

    Thermostat wars are the worst. I work in an office that has one entire wall that is all glass, tile floors, it’s on the top floor, and has no insulation (insulation is not a thing in this country). In the summer it is not so bad between the central air and the split units. Winter is a whole ‘nuther story. I’m the de facto Ops Manager, but definitely not the Facilities Manager but everyone still came to me. For 2 winters I said that whatever the pregnant lady wanted is what we would do (we’ve had 3 babies in 3 years). This winter, I don’t have that excuse. However, I told them that they needed to take responsibility for certain aspects of the heat – there are 3 central units, they all have to be turned on first thing in the morning because no area is air-tight so if you don’t turn on the unit near the meeting room, the whole office will be impacted. And you can’t set it at 30 when you turn it on and then when you’re warm enough turn it off. I was vilified for rejecting requisitions for space heaters. But a) they have a radius of like 6 inches, b) two of the six requests were for people who were in offices with split units but they didn’t like the air blowing near their face (seriously? you’re in an office with 5 desks, you work from the field at least 2 days per week, switch desks with the guy who works from the field 4 days a week!), and c) the wiring in our building cannot handle all those space heaters. Yes there were 2 days where it was cold because the heat was broken (as was all power in the building for hours at a time), but buying all these space heaters would make it worse because the heat was broken due to people in the building using so many space heaters that it overwhelmed the wiring. They thought I was lying to them because I am actually in a separate suite on another floor that is warmer because it has floors above and below and not as much glass so I didn’t care about their plight. I had to get the IT guy and one of the staff engineers to tell them that I was right.

    1. Revanche*

      Oh the space heaters thing! It’s so tough because it seems like an obvious solution to the employees but for some reason I’ve never been in an office where the wiring could cope with it.
      The cold was so bad for me in one job that they had to make an exception because it was seriously aggravating a medical condition but I knew we were dealing with all kinds of uneven temperature headaches through the building.

    2. Cruella Da Boss*

      In my office, those who are coldest seem to be the most scantily clad. They wear the barest minimum, even in the winter. Short skirts and plunging necklines…OY! HR sent out a memo about space heaters recently and everyone had to grouse. I suggested the most obvious solution: Dress for the season. If you are cold, put on a swaater or a jacket.
      It is much easier to add clothing than subtract it.

      1. Kelly L.*

        When I’m too cold, it’s usually my fingertips, not my hypothetical cleavage. I’ve had fingerless gloves recommended to me. Except those expose the exact part of my hand that’s the problem, and I can’t type in gloves with fingers, and I also can’t type well if my fingers get too cold.

        1. Judy*

          I once had an office at the end of the trunk line for the AC. It would never get warmer than 65F in the summer, and was sometimes as cold as 60. It’s amazing how much better it was with wrist warmers/fingerless gloves.

          It’s like when my kids were babies (both born in late fall), their little fingers would be so cold, but once I found long sleeved onesies to put under their sleepers, the fingers were not so cold.

        2. Observer*

          Unless you have a circulation problem, being more warmly dressed will usually make your hands, and fingers, warmer. If it doesn’t help, and you have never checked into this, it’s actually worth looking into, as this is the kind of thing that’s a bit of a warning sign.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Thank you for your concern. I don’t actually currently own such gloves–it made no sense to me. If it really does work, I suppose I’ll actually have to try it.

            1. Another Ellie*

              I have cold hands and I’ve definitely had success w/ fingerless gloves for typing. I highly recommend them!

            2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

              Fingerless gloves absolutely work. If you look at your wrist, you’ll notice a visible vein just under the skin. Keeping this vein warm keeps the blood going to your hands and fingers warm. I was skeptical too, but I was a believer after my first day with them. If you can get wool ones, so much the better. Wool keeps you warm and wicks away moisture.

              1. Chinook*

                “Fingerless gloves absolutely work. If you look at your wrist, you’ll notice a visible vein just under the skin. Keeping this vein warm keeps the blood going to your hands and fingers warm”

                This is the same reason you will see some people, when they come in from the cold for a cup of coffee, actually wrap their wrists around the cup. The heat from the coffee bleeds directly into your thin skin and vein, warmign your blood. If I do that, I can warm up in about 5 minutes.

                1. Natalie*

                  And vice versa, if you need to cool down in the summer. An ice cube or even just a cold wet paper towels held on your wrists will help you cool off more quickly.

              2. NoPantsFridays*

                Yup. I wear my old winter hat to bed (at home, when sleeping. Not at work!) A lot of blood flows through your brain/head and your wrists (and your neck, I think) so keep those areas warm and you’ll be warmer overall. I also have a few turtleneck sweaters I wear sometimes. I don’t worry about it much at work as I tend to run a little warm and my office is of a pretty moderate temperature, thankfully.

      2. nona*

        IDK, I’m cold all the time. I’m wearing pants and sweaters with a normal neckline. I wear my winter coat indoors most days. I bring a sweater and a jacket in the summer, when it’s 90+ outside, because the office is still too cold.

        I don’t think that should be normal.

        1. Tris Prior*

          Yep! I work in a drafty, poorly insulated older building and we just found out that the furnace is probably on its last legs. My warm-blooded colleagues always tell me “just put on a sweater!” Um, I’m usually wearing at least three or four. At some point you can’t get on any more layers because the clothing you own will not fit over the layers you’ve already got on.

          And, my winter parka impedes movement a la A Christmas Story (“I can’t put my arms down!”) so that is less than ideal.

          I’d love ideas regarding what to do about a cold face, especially my nose! I fear that a ski mask might not be a good plan, considering that I do occasionally have to interact with the public. :) (haven’t read the whole thread yet so perhaps someone’s got a suggestion!)

      3. Observer*

        Maybe that’s true in your office. But, that’s a very broad generalization, and something that doesn’t match a lot of people’s experience.

        1. Judy*

          I’ve certainly seen a subset of those who complain about the cold being less warmly dressed, especially when it comes to shoes. A few years ago, there were several women in our office who started wearing sandals all year round “because my feet need to breathe” and were the ones that had space heaters under their desks and complained that the conference rooms were too cold. I just wanted to say “Put some socks on”

          1. Observer*

            I’m sure that these are such cases. But, most of the people who complain, in my experience are appropriately dressed.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              Yup, I have shoes, long sleeves, sometimes turtleneck sweater, sometimes tights under my pants. I also have a blanket for my legs, a sweater if needed, and plenty of hot tea. Getting up and moving around is good too. I know they don’t want more space heaters, so I just bundle up a bit.

              1. Nina*

                Same here. I can be clothed from head to toe and still be cold in the office. For one thing, if the room itself is cold, then it’s impossible to draw any heat from your surroundings. It’s like trying to warm up inside a freezer.

                And second, sitting at a desk does nothing for your circulation, so you can’t really drum up any internal heat, either. Moving around does help but you can’t be running around all day when you’re supposed to be working.

          2. Ellie H.*

            I am one of those people who’s always cold, but my feet are always a million degrees if I’m wearing any kind of closed shoe indoors, let alone boots. The one thing I HATE about winter is wearing boots when I can’t take them off inside (like in class or at a restaurant or something) and because of my boots I’ll be sweating even despite being freezing cold in the rest of my body. It is really the worst. When I worked in an office I loved being able to keep work shoes under my desk.

      4. Revanche*

        Yep. I wore a heavy winter coat to work and never took it off during the day. That’s in addition to the scarf and sweater and double pants routine.

      5. Anonsie*

        Well I can’t exactly run around and talk to clients and have meetings with visitors in a big chunky sweater or wool coat, so for me I’m actually always wearing fancy-pants skiing long johns under all my clothes that you can’t actually see. If you were to glance at me and say “oh she’s just wearing slacks and a cardigan, no wonder she’s cold” you would be quite wrong.

      6. Cath in Canada*

        YES! The one person in our office who complains about being too cold never wears anything warmer than a long-sleeved t-shirt. She sits by the thermostat, so she gets her way because it’s too much hassle for the rest of us to keep going and turning it down every time she turns it back up. The rest of us (except one person who has a thyroid issue) are roasting.

      1. Natalie*

        Coming from commercial property management, yep, they’re not allowed. In basically all jurisdictions they’re a violation of the fire code, which means they’re a violation of your lease. And the electrical system was not designed with fire code violations in mind, either.

          1. Natalie*

            It would probably still be a violation – as far as I know any portable heater is considered a fire hazard. That said, from what I know they are much less of a fire hazard than the kind that blow hot air. Also, you’re much, much less likely to get caught because they don’t draw so much power that they trip the circuit.

    3. Scott M*

      Try a chair warmer cushion. They make them to plug into a USB port (I would use a USB charger instead of your computer). Works pretty well!

      1. Tris Prior*

        I’ve been having great luck with one of those rice-filled heat wraps for sore muscles that you put in the microwave to heat up. I bought it for my jacked-up shoulder and back but am finding it incredibly helpful in keeping warm at my desk. I put it on my chair, in my lap, sometimes on my desk so I can warm up one hand while I mouse with the other. That’s the one thing that’s really been helping me this winter.

    4. beckythetechie*

      If your office allows/doesn’t forbid tea lights (the little scentless low smoke candles in the aluminum cup) putting one of those on a saucer with a terra cotta flower pot inverted over the top can funnel enough heat to keep pipes from freezing in a 500 sq. ft. apartment. That may be a way to keep the surface of your desk warmer on particularly cold days. (Or toast a marshmallow for those emergency s’mores cravings.)

  14. Bend & Snap*

    #4 marketing cones with a lot of writing and I would 100% notice and judge this. The rule has been around long enough and it’s in the official AP Style Guide. It’s time to get on board. If your writing is meant for public consumption, you’re making more work for the person reviewing it.

    I don’t understand being aware of a universal standard and ignoring it.

    1. telecommuter*

      Agreed. I figure some people genuinely don’t know and I’ll cut some slack for that, but I can’t fathom knowing that there is a standard and just thinking it doesn’t matter, or that it doesn’t apply to you, or not caring and doing it the other way just because you feel like it.

      Of course, I am a proofreader and copy editor by trade, so there’s that.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I tend to think that standards are like toothbrushes, everyone agrees they should have one, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to use someone else’s.

        I write a lot of computer code and I get irrationally angry when people don’t follow generally accepted formatting standards, the code is so unreadable and hard to follow it makes my head hurt.

      2. NavyLT*

        Depends on the field. I ignore it for two reasons: First, no one who reads anything I write cares, and second, I really can’t see a visual break between sentences when there’s only a single space. The proportional font argument has always puzzled me a bit. To me, the period just blends into the word preceding it, and I like to have that bit of extra white space to separate the sentences.

    2. Henrietta Gondorf*

      I’m a two space person because I find single spacing looks really cramped. I’m also in two fields that cling to the two space rule: law and the military.

      My experience has been that this is less of a universal and more field specific, but the idea that this is the hill anyone outside of publishing and design wants to die on baffles me.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        It’s the universally accepted standard for writing, so it’s the same thing as not capitalizing correctly.

        I don’t work in design or publishing, but my work is consumed by large audiences, both internally and externally. Ignoring this rule in email would even be noticed by colleagues. It matters.

        1. Henrietta Gondorf*

          Except it’s not a universally accepted standard. For example, my appellate courts specify two spaces in briefs. You can think this is silly of them, but calling it akin to irregular capitalization is downright perplexing.

          It’s ultimately arbitrary enough that the level of vitriol inspired by it doesn’t make any sense.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            AP Style Guide is the standard for journalism, business and academic writing. That’s not arbitrary. Your courts have a different rule and that’s fine, but it’s far from the norm.

            1. Cat*

              It’s not universal either though which is what I think the objection was too.

              I will confirm that almost all legal writing I see uses two spaces.

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  Okay. So while I’m not 100% correct about some of this–the anti-single-spacers are arguing that double space is the norm in some places and should be followed.

                  Which is the crux of the OP’s question. He/she acknowledges that single space is the norm in his/her circles, but doesn’t want to follow it.

                  So–regardless of what is “correct” in individual fields–OP is choosing not to conform to a standard.

                  Apparently it depends on the individual assessing the writing as to whether or not that’s detrimental.

                  In my opinion, not following a known standard is lazy and can be risky depending on the audience.

                  I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

                2. fposte*

                  Sure, if it were an absolutely known standard. But, as this discussion indicates, it’s not; heck, even you’re postulating the existence of “anti-single-spacers.” And I think it’s an error to consider somebody who adheres to a different standard to be lazy–I wouldn’t consider somebody who followed AP style to be lazy, after all.

                  I think single spacing is probably safer than double-spacing, but the number of people who desperately care isn’t high.

                3. bridget*

                  Legal writing where I am is about 50/50, as far as I can tell, depending on the age of who your partner or judge is. When I clerked, my judge was a one spacer because the judge was relatively newer to the bench, but my partners who give me writing assignments are older and use two spaces. The judges on my state supreme court are split-two use double spaces, three use single spaces. Neither is particularly harshly judged as long as you are consistent within the document.

            2. Henrietta Gondorf*

              I think the standard is changing, but one space hasn’t achieved universality. Claiming that it has and that failing to space appropriately is cause for judgment like this is what perplexes me.

              And it’s not just my appellate courts, but my entire federal agency that uses two spaces. I struggle to believe that given Alison’s response and the number of people who have mentioned learning two spaces that this is settled enough to warrant an intense reaction.

              1. Bend & Snap*

                You know…you keep commenting on my reaction…you have your view and I have mine. Just leave it there.

              2. Ann O'Nemity*

                Yes, I agree that the style is changing. Even legal style guides are changing, though some individual courts may be slow to adapt. The Bluebook legal style guide doesn’t specify spacing, but the thing itself is written with only one space. The latest Redbook actually specifies one space. And frankly, I wouldn’t be defending two spaces just because one of those individual court systems is behind the times of the field.

            3. Ellie A.*

              It might be standard for certain academic fields, but not for all academic writing. It’s not the standard in MLA style, for instance. MLA acknowledges that single-spacing is becoming more common, but it also says, “As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.”

              Source: http://www.mla.org/style/style_faq/mlastyle_spaces

            4. fposte*

              Whoa. AP Style Guide is definitely not the standard for academic writing. MLA, Chicago Style, and AP*A*, sure; then academic journals have their own style sheets built on those, which are likely to be more individual. AP may be used in some areas, but I’d be surprised if it’s even predominant, let alone “the standard.”

              1. JB*

                I was about to say the same thing. The AP Style Guide is definitely not universally followed. In my time in undergrad, and working on a journal in law school, and editing dissertations for my Ph.D. candidate friends, I never had to use that one.

            5. JC*

              The AP style guide is not the standard in all academic writing. I am a researcher who publishes in journals who follow the American Psychological Association style guide, which is followed by many academics in the social/behavioral sciences. They recommend 2 spaces after a period in submitted manuscripts (but 1 space once the paper is formatted by the journal).

              Point is, even though one space after a period seems like the standard to you because it is the standard in your world, it is not the standard for everyone. And it’s not just esoteric fields that haven’t switched.

            6. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Well, I must speak up here for the Chicago manual, which is the standard for lots of places that aren’t newspapers. But they agree on one space too. (I just couldn’t let AP be mentioned as the universal standard, given their hostility toward the serial comma.)

          2. HeyNonnyNonny*

            I work in government, and we are required to still use two spaces in some types of documents. It will likely never be updated.

          3. JB*

            I was coming here to say this exact thing. I work in appellate law, which means that a lot of older people with tired eyes spend all day doing nothing but reading legal opinions and briefs. The double spacing does help, and I don’t even have old eyes (yet). When I first started out, I (silently) made fun of the larger font requirements they also have, but now I totally get it. And when I was in the business world before law, which admittedly was over 10 years ago, people preferred the double spacing.

            I get that it is becoming the rule to only use 1 space, but since it’s not a universal rule, and plenty of professionals fields still use double spacing, I don’t quite get how strongly people seem to feel about people who use them. If everything else about a job applicant is good, would you reject them or think twice about them just because of the two spaces?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Really though? I see double spacing ALL THE TIME. I certainly notice it, but it’s never once affected my opinion of a job applicant (unless it’s for a copy-editing job). Is it really making you think twice about applicants? I’ve never heard anyone say that and truly mean it, so I’m wondering if it’s hyperbole.

              2. bridget*

                I only think twice when a document is internally inconsistent, or when writers accidentally use three or four spaces intermittently.

        2. alma*

          It’s not really the same as not capitalizing correctly, though. The rules of capitalization haven’t undergone the same recent shift as single/double spacing, and don’t vary from industry to industry the way some people on this thread have described. You don’t have generations of people who grew up being taught to capitalize a certain way and now have to adapt to a different way.

          I’ve also worked as a proofreader/copy editor, and in all honesty, it’s actually made me more tolerant of grammar/style oddities. Things that would be a showstopper in Industry A would barely get a notice in Industry B, and vice versa. I’m sympathetic that it’s a peeve, but the level of hatred for double spacing just seems really over the top to me sometimes.

          1. fposte*

            Yup. Writing is like many fields; the higher/deeper you go, the less you worry about the gatekeeping rules.

            1. JB*

              Exactly! When I first got out of law school, I would look down on people who didn’t Bluebook correctly, and now I couldn’t care less, as long as whatever they do, they do consistently, and as long as I can figure out what they’re citing to.

          2. Kelly L.*

            I’ve actually seen–not really here but elsewhere–over-the-top vitriol toward single spacers too. It tends to be of the “rawr kids these days” variety.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m actually very interested that this conversation doesn’t include more people (a) surprised that single spacing is now considered correct (in the majority of places) or (b) defending it passionately. I think that happened the last time this came up here, which might have been a few years ago. I wonder if just the past few years have seen more of a change-over in people who used to do it the old way.

              1. A nony cat*

                I was surprised by the lack of team two-spaces too. I’m team single-space until the day I die, mainly because between third grade and fourth grade the learn-to-type software was updated to require single spaces, and I went from the Gold-star typing group to the Bronze-star group due to the switch. (not that I’m bitter or anything).

                However, most of the people I have worked under (i.e. people who graduate from school before I reached the fourth grade) either don’t care, or think that two spaces is correct. A friend of mine actually was chastised by her boss for using one space (I offered to go explain to the boss how wrong he was, but sadly my friend thought that would be bad for her career). The last place I interned had a rather strictly followed style guide that said to use two spaces. As much as I want to threaten to resign if companies don’t change their style guides because I said so, it seems that the two-space rule is very much alive an well.

    3. Rita*

      I had to tell one of my coworkers about 3 months ago that this is the norm, after she called me out in a meeting that the document we were reviewing was only singled spaced and needed to be double spaced. She’s the “I’m always right and I always have to be right” type and didn’t believe me that this is the new norm because “she’s never seen it done that way.” She still doesn’t believe me.

      1. Ellie A.*

        I have to admit, while I knew single-spacing was becoming more common, I genuinely didn’t realize it was considered “correct” and double-spacing “incorrect” in certain circles until this post. I just thought people who single-spaced after a period had never taken formal typing lessons. (I took a typing class in the late 80s. I was taught on a computer, not a typewriter, but I was taught the double-space rule.)

        That said, I would never confront a colleague about “incorrectly” using single-spaces after a period, because, as Allison said, with today’s fonts it really doesn’t matter that much.

        1. Observer*

          There are two things I’ve seen that seem to be the main reasons for this kind of thing.

          Firstly, early word processors, and even word processing software on computers, were far more likely to be printing in monospaced fonts that proportional. In many ways they were glorified typewriters that were used primarily to enable such esoteric features as bold, italic and underline, or document re-use. Even when the software improved significantly (think WordStar and WordPerfect, which automatically did word wrap and pagination), printers with better quality fonts were heavily using monospaced fonts.

          For years after that, many people, including typing teachers, pretty much looked at computers as glorified typewriters that offered some nice features. People really didn’t realize that this was a bit of a game changer that might make some re-thinking a good idea.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Agreed. I will judge you for using 2 spaces. It shows me that you’re outdated and don’t know it, or you’re outdated and too stubborn to care.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I was replying to Bend & Snap, who was talking about her field (marketing). I realize that this may be a field-specific thing, but in mine the rule is definitely 1 space.

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      It’s a UK thing too I’m sure as my gran does it… Maybe it is considered even more outdated here (uk) than there? Cant think of any other explanation except maybe just chance that you’ve never heard of it or noticed it before.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Same here. In fact when I learnt touch typing in the 1980s it was considered a serious error by the RSA and LCCI. So serious that if you did it too often you could get failed. Two spaces are as automatic as breathing. However, I notice that printed books and newspapers often use just one space but that is probably an overall space issue. Then again, they often break other typesetting conventions as taught by the traditional instructors.

        2. UK Nerd*

          Same here: UK, 30s, was taught double spacing. The only time I use single spacing is on Twitter.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I guess I’m showing my age here, but I’m didn’t think I was that young, that said I was never taught to type at school.

    3. Paul*

      I’m in the UK, 24 years old. I’ve never heard of it, and I thought double spacing referred to leaving a larger gap between lines.

      Two spaces in a row sounds messy to me. (Something else that irks me: the way the French place a space before a question or exclamation mark.) I can’t quite believe it’s an accepted standard anywhere.

  15. Ruth (UK)*

    2. I too look very young for my age… If the situation seems appropriate for a joke, I like to say this: ‘I’ll be 80 in July … Just not this July’ with a long enough pause that they initially think I’m stating the first bit on its own. This usually gets a good reaction. Sometimes I say it with a young enough age they might question if its true at the beginning. And if someone else gas a July birthday and says how old they’re gonna be in July, I start with ‘me too!’

    I’m 26 now and its been less of a problem in recent years… But when prompted to guess, I’ve still been given numbers like 19…

    1. Revanche*

      I loved responding that way when people were obviously asking because they weren’t sure what to make of me holding a higher position than they thought possible for someone of my age. Managing staff was always a bit of a kick as I preferred to leave them guessing when they hadn’t yet gotten to know me, knowing my age was only going to fuel whatever preconceived notions they were cherishing.

      I’m finally getting old enough (and showing it too!) that I haven’t gotten this question in some time.

    2. Gem*

      I don’t disclose my age at work (rarely asked now). When I was asked my response varied – I used a lot of the rude to ask a lady type responses, in more lighthearted company I’d use ‘I’ve been saying 21 since I was 15 and see no reason to stop now’

    3. Shabang*

      Give your age in months – as in “I’m 264 months old”. And then a big smile and do what you do.

    4. Dolly*

      I manage a team here and every single person is older than me by at least two decades. The struggle was real to get past this stage. I’m in my mid 20s, and while I don’t want to seem thrown by being younger than them (and I have no issue managing people older or younger than me) it seemed oddly inappropriate to discuss my age.

      Now the only comments I get are from one of the guys that keeps referring to me as “about [his] daughter’s age.”

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      I love that! I’m a geek, so I usually give my age in hexadecimal. That works currently since there are no letters in the age. Or occasionally I’ll use binary. I’m 36 or 110110!

  16. ReanaZ*



    But I used to work in copy-editing where like 1/3 of my job was removing other people’s double (or triple?!) spacing after punctuation. (Another 1/3 was fixing apostrophes at the beginning of words (think ’til or ’09) that were going the wrong way (i.e. were actually a single opening smart quote–curved away from the letters–and not actually apostrophes–curved towards the letters).

    I’m much less of a judgy, insufferably know-it-all with grammar and punctuation these days, but the double-spacing thing drives me batty. It’s a long, long obsolete rule. Time to get over it.

    1. Henrietta Gondorf*

      Whoa. I think you can come down on the single space side without resorting to all caps judgment.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        You were clear above that you think it’s silly, but as you can see, the single space rule is important for a lot of us in our fields.

        1. Henrietta Gondorf*

          Important in your field is not the same as a universal maxim. I think it’s good for the OP to have a sense of whether it’s important in her area or not. In mine, two is absolutely the standard.

          And I don’t think one space is per se silly. I think that getting wrapped around the axle is perplexing outside of certain circumstances.

          1. fposte*

            Yup. I’m a journal editor. We use the single space, but I haven’t broken the double space habit, and nor have some of my writers. It’s not that big a deal to change. It’s a lot easier than hunting down commas that should be italicized but aren’t.

            1. Aunt Vixen*

              What saves my life is the styles bar in Word. Show me all 87 instances of “Body Text + italic” and I can change them all to “Emphasis” (or change them one by one to “Body Text” or “Emphasis” as appropriate) – but I don’t have to try to eyeball italicized commas.

              Ergh, wait, you’re talking about roman commas that should be italic. Hrm. No help there. Rats.

                1. Aunt Vixen*

                  I mean I guess you could find all instances of “Emphasis” (or whatever your italic style is) and then ital the commas afterward for the ones that have commas afterward. That would have to be faster than doing a Find (or, worse, just eyeballing) every comma in the damn thing. You’d still have to apply the style by hand, though.

                2. fposte*

                  Actually, eyeballing it isn’t bad because our style is so consistent, their placement is pretty predictable, and our documents aren’t that long (40-50 pages, mostly); I generally do catch the few that didn’t get formatted correctly from the get-go.

                  I do miss the days when we created camera-ready copy and the search and replace sequence transformed the document–though heaven help you if you did the smart-quote sequences in the wrong order!

      2. A Reader*

        Actually, I took the all caps as more of a joking statement since it was followed by “ahem.”

        Tone and inflection are the worst things to try to convey in writing.

        1. ReanaZ*

          Yeah, I was definitely going for a “This bothers me a lot, but it’s a pretty silly thing to have this level of irritation over because in the scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal.” vibe.

    2. Sunshine*

      I feel like I owe an apology. I had never once heard of this rule until I found it on this site. Double-spacer here!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I just noticed that WordPress is automatically converting comments with double spaces to single spaces. I was wondering why everyone who said they were a double-spacer were actually typing with single spaces, but now I see WordPress is just automatically overruling you.

        1. LBK*

          That may not be a stylistic thing – most commenting/blogging/forum systems I’ve used strip extra spaces so you can’t mess with the way the page displays, like make a line of 10,000 spaces that forcibly stretches it.

            1. LBK*

              No to serial commas! I know they make more sense but dammit, they just feel wrong to me! I think it’s because I read/write the way I speak and when I’m saying a list, I don’t pause before the “and”. The serial comma gives me a cognitive dissonance when I read it because it makes my brain-voice pause where my mouth-voice wouldn’t, if that makes any sense.

        2. UK Nerd*

          It’s not WordPress. Standard HTML rendering strips extra spaces. If you view the page source code, you can find the double spaces in our comments, but the browser doesn’t show them.

        3. ReanaZ*

          Yes! I love this. It’s pretty common on websites these days.

          I’m actually curious if you can trick Word into doing this by setting an autocorrect rule for it, but I haven’t tried.

          The serial comma thing for real, though.

  17. Blue Anne*

    #3 – I’m currently sitting at a client’s office in Scotland, and it is absolutely boiling in this room, despite the beautiful snow-covered landscape I’m looking at. There’s a lady in the other room I need to get files from occasionally who has a little fan going – you’re not her, are you? :)

    1. The IT Manager*

      Downton Abbey, two week’s ago episode in the US… Dowager Countess says it felt positively tropical in the Winter Place’s ballroom even though it was winter in St. Peterburg, Russia. I took that comment to be a sign of the extravigant excesses that got the Tsarsist kicked out of power 30ish years later.

      That said I definately like my office on the warmer side – towards 23 degrees C. I might like it warmer, but I recognize any higher that is not fair to others.

  18. Emmies*

    I used to review and edit SOPs at my previous job. Most of these were written by my former manager, and little things in there used to drive me mad (as anyone else with OCD will probably understand). The one that really ground my gears was the inconsistent use of full-stop-space-space, and full-stop-space. Its one or the other, not both inside the same document! I used to control F to search for all of them, and change them to full-stop-space.

    Another pet hate was when ‘maybe’ was used, instead of ‘may be’. It would have been okay if it weren’t in almost every SOP as well!

    1. Kat M*

      Ooh, I have a peeve like this! I get *so* frustrated when people use “everyday” for “every day.” They’re two different terms meaning two different things! You did not take your class outside “everyday” this week!

      The stories I could write about editing classroom newsletters would give you hives.

      1. Kelly L.*

        “In to” and “into.” “I turned my paper into my professor this morning.” Well, I’m glad to hear your Transfiguration lessons are going well.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This site has to have attracted the largest number of people who care about this stuff (including me) of anywhere on the internet that isn’t specifically writing-related. I don’t know how it happened. It’s like I left out a bowl of Grammar Attract (TM), and it drew you all here.

          (I love it, by the way.)

    2. Algae*

      I currently review and edit SOPs.

      I really wish everyone would send me their SOPs for formatting. Just let me do them and I will make sure they are all consistent and perfect and the spaces are correct and the Oxford comma is used.

      Unfortunately, that’s not the way this company is set up and the new document software we have makes it difficult for me to get to all of them. (And seriously, Velma, you can stop using spaces where you want tabs and you don’t need a carriage return at the end of the sentence because it screws up the document when it’s converted. Stop it.)

      1. Emmies*

        The other technicians in our team caught on that I was pretty good with formatting and editing, so I was always included in the approval process. Even if I had no real expertise in the SOP being updated. We were a small team, so most people were included in the review process anyway.

        I used to hate when people didn’t use hyperlinks (i.e. ‘Send chocolate teapot to QC individual to perform teapot melting point analysis. See section 7.8.1), but then would later add in extra sections, so if you went and looked up section 7.8.1 you wouldn’t find details of melting point analysis, you would still be lost in the description of the teapot construction equipment. But because they didn’t use hyperlinks, or update the section number, the error was passed on to someone else to catch. If it wasn’t caught, nothing says ‘we know what we’re doing’ to the external auditors like poor documentation!

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Spouse was just complaining last night about a document he had right and then it got edited. He had microcuries with the mu prefix and no apostrophe, and it got changed to “uCi’s”. He was also objecting to the comma lover who puts a comma before listing the procedure: “In this test we used procedure, XYZ, to do…” and gets belligerent when asked to remove it.

      1. Natalie*

        We had a tenant once who sent in a signage order with an unnecessary apostrophe (CPA’s). I kindly corrected it before I sent it to the signage company, only to have the tenant insist on reinserting the apostrophe when they got the proof back.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      My peeve is “setup” vs. “set up.” I have to correct this error in every single report I edit. Someone will write, “The thing should be setup in this way.” And I immediately start grinding my teeth. Errrrrghhhh.

      1. Willow+Sunstar*

        I used to proof ads as part of my day job duties. You have no idea the number of people who think that plurals are made by adding an ‘s to words.

  19. Cheesecake*

    OP #2. I wanted to say we are on the same boat, but i am not 22 anymore. When i was 22 (not so long ago, winkwink), i had similar situation; i had to manage projects and teach people who all were older than me, some 2x. And yes, they were asking about my age quite a lot as i was dealing with a lot of different people.

    At first i was very uncomfortable and constantly thought they judge me.But i soon noticed that people very rarely ask age question as a ground to be nasty and rude (and if they do, they are just morons who would pick any topic to be unpleasant). Usually people ask just to keep conversation or to pay you a compliment as in “oh, you gained so much knowledge on this subject by 22? when i was 22…”

    So yes, it is all in your head. You anticipate a secret agenda behind this question, because of the whole “older-wiser” concept. While it is true that some things do come with experience that comes with age (i am just so much more patient now than i was 5 years ago), some come with hard work, dedication and knowledge.I personally just answer the question and rarely joke, like it is not a big deal. Because it is not. Your work is.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Really good point. I remember where I was at when I was 22. (No where near what I wanted in life.) I can just see myself marveling at OPs accomplishments. Fortunately, I know not to ask. But it does not prevent me from thinking someone has done well with their life so far. And I have that inquisitive side that wants to know “how did you do that?”. I like stories.

      My friend has a young boss, he asked my friend if it bothered her that another professional she was working with was so much younger than her. (No, it did not bother her.) But the question is there; discomfort/curiosity/other stuff regarding age is pretty common.

      OP, assume that the question is an awkward way of saying “looks like you have done well with your life so far”.

      I hope you find this amusing, OP. I had to ask a guy for his ID. As he gave me his ID he said, “You’re kidding! We are the same age!” I looked down at his ID and said, “I am 15 years older than you.” He said, “Boy, you really can’t guess people’s ages…”. So this age thing never ends, OP, but it does not sting so much after a while.

  20. UKAnon*

    #3 – I’m not au fait with provisions but you might want to look into Health and Safety provisions. There’s no maximum temperature for an office, but the temperature has to be ‘reasonable’ and it looks like an employer has to conduct a risk assessment in certain circumstances. You could possible also contact a local HSE office for further info. If it’s making you ill, you could also try and get a doctor’s certificate asking for you to be allowed a fan at your desk for medical reasons – it’s usually a brave employer who ignores them!

  21. Jen*

    #3 In the thermostat wars, I’ve only ever heard one argument that makes sense: The temperature should be kept on the lower side of comfortable, because those who run cool can always add more layers of clothing. Those who run hot, can only take off a limited amount. Perhaps framing it that way to your boss/facilities, especially in the context of it making you ill, would help? Otherwise, I’d be going down the official Health & Safety complaint route for sure.

    1. BRR*

      This is exactly my reasoning. I get the same way as the op, I feel sick with how hot it gets sometimes. It’s impossible for me to do anything with my attire. I think the compromise is I have a fan but you can’t keep it ridiculously hot.

      In general I find it aggravating how places over compensate for the cold by blasting the heat. I’m dressed for winter. It doesn’t work so well inside then.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        “In general I find it aggravating how places over compensate for the cold by blasting the heat. I’m dressed for winter. It doesn’t work so well inside then.”

        Exactly! I find it to be the worst on buses. Everyone has a coat/hat/etc. on, it does not need to be 75 degrees on this bus! I learned to sit near the back door so I get a rush of cool air every time someone gets off.

        1. fposte*

          I think that transport blasts it because the frequent opening of the door drops the temperature so much; retail lobbies sometimes do the same.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            I think you’re probably right. It’s still suffocating once you’ve been on the bus for a few minutes.

            1. fposte*

              I think probably one reason on the bus is to keep the driver warm, since it’s his/her workplace, but it’s still a bit of an ordeal. It’s even worse on the subway, because once it goes underground the heat is crazy! That’s the classic winter annoyance, really–you can’t be properly dressed for the outside and the various insides you encounter at the same time.

              1. Natalie*

                Funny, I find it so much worse in the summer. I try and dress for the outside temp (it gets into the 90s and humid here, despite being a “cold” state and then I go inside and everyone’s got the AC cranked down to 65. I’ve gotten very creative with my summer layering.

          2. Rene*

            In Phoenix it was the opposite–it’s 115F(46C) outside, and the mall was kept at 70F(21C)! All the employees were wearing jackets and long trousers and comfortable; the shoppers were in sundresses, tanks and shorts and were shivering. Walking back outside was a slap in the face.

        2. Jennifer*

          Oh god, the body heat on the bus is like to kill me even if I’m only on the bus for 15 minutes.

    2. Helka*

      That’s actually not universally true, though. There are only so many layers of clothing you can add (do you keep a whole wardrobe at work??) and for certain fairly common physical issues (poor circulation, low iron, as well as some medical conditions) adding more layers isn’t going to help.

      Plus, you can’t really cover your hands and be effective at a lot of jobs. Have you ever tried typing with gloves on?

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh my, yes. It isn’t professional to work with my coat on, although I’ve done it before when my boss won’t turn the thermostat above 17! I wear a sweater at work every day and a cardigan on top of that, I wear knitted tights under my pants, I wear warm socks. There is a limit to how many more layers I can put on. I can’t type or work with gloves on despite wanting to, can’t wear a hat in the office, space heaters and heating pads not allowed. So there is absolutely a limit to how many layers you can wear and still look professional or at least not like you’re dressed for a day at the slopes.

        I drink a lot of tea to keep warm.

        1. Helka*

          That’s me. Right now, I’m wearing leggings under my jeans, a flannel shirt, I’ve got a fuzzy blanket wrapped around my lap up to nearly my armpits, a shawl across my shoulders, a mug of hot tea, and when the tea wears off I’m going to go get some hot oatmeal. And I’m still cold.

          Granted, our office’s problem is more about air circulation than the temperature setting. There are hot spots and cold spots all over the building — I just have the joy of winding up in a cold spot. And it’s otherwise a great spot to be in, so I suck it up and try to stay warm as best I can. I’ve had the people near me bring in Snuggies to work in! I can’t bring myself to be quite that unprofessional, though.

          1. Revanche*

            Geesh, it sounds like we were office clones :) I really only ever brewed tea to keep my hands warm, after I’d put on two layers on bottom and four layers on top plus a heavy coat to top it off!

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I got a cold spot, and we’re on the third floor, so the second the temperature outside goes over 50 F, the AC comes on. I keep a little fleece blanket tucked into my footrest. And tea helps too.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        +1000. If any part of me is cold, including my hands and face, I eventually start feeling cold all over, and when I feel cold all over eventually I start feeling ill and uncomfortable doing just about anything.

    3. katamia*

      As someone who has trouble breathing colder air, I really hate this argument. Putting on a sweater isn’t going to help me breathe better.

          1. LBK*

            Ha! Well I do have a re-interview tomorrow for a position I originally got rejected for, maybe I’ll go pants-less this time and see if that makes me stand out enough to get it.

      1. Anonsie*

        Ugh this is me, too, but I’m not about to go parading around telling everyone about my asthma to get the thermostat raised. I wish people would just, you know, respect that people’s comfort levels are different and there is no universal solution

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          I don’t think it’s unreasonable to tell people about your asthma to get the thermostat raised. It is a medical/disability issue.

    4. Fucshia*

      Let me guess… You like it cooler? :)

      I’ve only ever heard those who prefer the cooler temperatures suggest this argument.

      My office doesn’t allow space heaters, so I use an electric throw blanket. They are quiet, less of a fire hazard, and use less power than a space heater. They also have zero impact on the temperature for coworkers.

    5. NutellaNutterson*

      I recently discovered that having a small fan on the floor under my desk, aimed up at me (like where others are suggesting a space heater would be) is a sea change when it comes to staying cool. I don’t know why it took me this long to realize this and I wish I had sooner – I used to work in an un-air-conditioned tent, for pete’s sake!

  22. peppermint*

    #3 – Is it possible that it’s the noise of the fan? At a former workplace, the person in the cube next to me brought in a fan and also left it running whenever she left the cube. The noise of it drove me crazy. I know for some people it’s “white noise”, but for whatever reason, that noise embedded itself in my head and distracted me from everything else. I ended up having a conversation with her, and we worked out a compromise (she was able to move it closer to the wall, further away from me, keep it at the lowest speed, and turned it off whenever she left her desk).

    This isn’t a solution, but you may also be experiencing confirmation bias in the comments from others visiting the office. It’s possible that you’re attuned to everyone who makes a comment about the heat, and are ignoring (or not noticing) the number of people who don’t comment about the temperature.

    1. LBK*

      Totally agree – my coworker has a fan that’s small enough and far enough away that I don’t feel the breeze from it, but it makes this rattling noise in addition to the whirring sound of the fan that drives me insane. Maybe that’s the real issue? Because I can’t imagine anyone can feel the breeze from your fan unless it’s one of those huge box fans you put in your window.

  23. Hypnotist Collector*

    If you’re writing for publication (of any kind) someone has to fix those spaces for you if you don’t do it. That’s why it’s worth unlearning. It does make you look like a relic and if writing is any part of your profession, it looks unprofessional. It’s not that difficult to relearn but a lot of people are resistant – “I’ll do it my way!!” – and that stubbornness makes no sense to a peeved editor.

    1. Hypnotist Collector*

      I should probably add that I’m a relic myself, in my 50s and born wedded to a typewriter. You can learn to use just one space.

    2. Graciosa*

      But seriously, why?

      Find-replace when you’re done with a document (if it really, really, really needs to be submitted somewhere with only a single space after the end of a sentence) is relatively easy.

      Unlearning a habit of many years (or many decades!) is not easy. The odds of doing it consistently perfectly are slim, so you’re going to end up having to check with find-replace anyway.

      Changing technology caused this problem, but thankfully can be used to fix it. :-)

      1. fposte*

        And it’s kind of entertaining to develop your search and replace search strings for various solecisms. When somebody mentioned spaces instead of a tab, I immediately leapt to how I’d formulate the string for that.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I change it when submission standards call for it. Some have really draconian formatting requirements, some don’t seem to care. If anyone wanted me to fix it, I would if they asked, but so far no one has mentioned it.

  24. AnneLouise*

    #4 As a graphic designer, double spacing is a pia when I import copy for something, and they all have to be removed. But what really drives me nuts is when someone refuses to learn to use tabs, and puts in spaces instead. (Even typewriters had tabs!) Then I have to go in and remove them, sometimes individually, because they don’t use the same number of spaces every time so find & replace doesn’t work as well. If it is a lengthy bit of copy, it can take way too long. :)

  25. Wanna-Alp*

    #3, I hear you. Much sympathies. We too have thermostat wars, and I’m on the other side of them: our office also runs at 25C, especially in winter, but I’m the one who is cold. Last winter I ended up wearing 3 warm layers and still needing a heat pad to put at the back of my chair. This winter I purchased one of those gym balls, and I bounce (if I move, I’m warm even if the temperature is cool; if I stay still, I’m cold even if the temperature is set to ‘furnace’).

    With the experience we’ve had, I do have some further suggestions for you:

    (1) If your office door is habitually open, take a look at the corridor temperature and who is seated nearer/further away. There may be enough of a temperature differential that choosing a seating arrangement with furnace-loving people at the warmer end could make a difference.

    (2) Do a multi-swap with people in other nearby offices so that all the people with fierce metabolisms end up together, and then they can have the window open to their hearts’ content.

    (3) Get a little spray bottle and fill it with water. Spray yourself occasionally: the water evaporating will keep you cooler, and it won’t have the same effect on other people as an office fan will. Try different body parts – the head may well have a particularly cooling effect.

  26. TL17*

    #2 – My gorgeous sister in law (who is in her 40s but looks about 27) always tells people “that’s top secret” when asked about her age. A fabulous MYOB answer.

  27. Carrington Barr*

    The number of spaces after a period??

    I just want people to learn the difference between YOUR and YOU’RE. That’s all I ask.
    Oh, and LOSE and LOOSE.

    Seriously, spacing is the least of my complaints.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I like the misuse of loose because, for some reason, it’s absolutely endemic among MLM pushers. It’s a red flag that helps me suss out when someone’s trying to pitch me in that way. :D

    2. LBK*

      Lose/loose grates on me way more than you/you’re or there/their/they’re, because at least those words are pronounced the same, so I’m willing to give some leeway.

    3. DeAnna*

      What about the evil of using apostrophes to make plurals? (No, not plural’s!!!!!) That’s the one that I think is the sign of the fall of civilization!

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        That bothers me alot. Or worse yet, bothers me allot. I’ve seen both, and I just quietly growl to myself.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Unnecessary apostrophes – gah! Also “unnecessary quotation marks!”

        (The latter is usually a sign of crazy small businesses.)

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Wait, misusing it’s and its doesn’t also make your teeth itch?! On the other hand, some day I’ll be perfect. Until then, I try to be gentle or even overlook obvious errors.

      -signed, the completely unconscious user of double-spaces

      1. Natalie*

        I feel like its/it’s is a fairly understandable mistake – it seems to violate the rule of using apostrophes for possession. (I know it doesn’t actually violate that rule because it follows the rule of pronouns, but I don’t think that’s clear to everyone since we use “it” as a noun all the time. It certainly wasn’t to me – I didn’t know the logic behind this until maybe 6 months ago.)

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Half the time, Word doesn’t know the difference between it’s and its either. It will say my usage is wrong, and if I humor it and change it (even though I’m not wrong), it will say it is wrong and suggest I change it back.

    5. Windchime*

      Yeah, I’m really confused by all the hate for two spaces. (I can’t call it “double-spaceing” because that’s what we used to call leaving a blank line between each line of typed text). It seems like this was a big topic here just a couple of days ago. Did I dream that up?

      I honestly don’t notice or care whether or not there are 1 or 2 spaces after a period. Nobody where I work cares, either, at least they don’t mention it if they do. It just seems like a minor thing to get so worked up about.

  28. JustMe*

    What the…!! Am I the only one on earth that had no idea the double space thing doesn’t apply anymore? I’m 37 and still type that way. Well, you learn something new everyday.

    1. newbie in Canada*

      I’m also 37 and I just discovered this a year ago or so when Slate magazine published an article about why you should never use double spaces. I asked around and it seemed everyone else was taught to single space. I started to think I was the outlier :)

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      I never heard about until this blog (and I have a hoard of recent college grads that I work with – they all do it too).

      1. HM in Atlanta*

        I mean – they all double-space after periods. We’re all trying to change to single. Every so often, someone will make a noise of exasperation related to it, so it’s become a running joke.

  29. Rebecca*

    #3: 25C = 77F. I live in Pennsylvania, and my thermostat at home is set 68F max during the winter. If I had to sit at my desk with heat blasting on me at 77F all day, I’d feel sleepy and nauseous, too. I’d be wearing short sleeve shirts and drinking ice water all day. And I can’t fathom how other people would be cold at this temperature. I am also one of those people who has to dress in layers, so I can take layers off during the day at work, and I have a fan that I run during the winter because the temps routinely reach 80F in here, and I have coworkers who wear hooded sweatshirts and fleece pullovers, and put blankets over their legs even at that temperature. If my boss told me I couldn’t use my fan, I’d strip down to a tank top just to make a point.

    1. BRR*

      My mother in law keeps her’s at 78 during the winter because they have a wood burning furnace and a forest. Heat is basically free for them. She then wears flannel pajamas and is under a thick blanket. Meanwhile I am in shorts and a t shirt with the bedroom window cracked. Keeping your heat at 78 and keeping your AC at 78 are way different.

  30. Allison*

    #5, if someone asked me if a job was still open, I wouldn’t necessarily hold it against them, and I wouldn’t question their interest or work ethic. However, too often when a person asks me a question like that, it turns out they didn’t really want to apply, and they figured that by contacting me personally with a question they could bypass the pesky application process and skip right to chatting with the recruiter. Once I ask for a resume or tell them to apply, I never hear from them again.

    1. Ama*

      I’ve been a coordinator for job searches (all the admin work, none of the decision making power) and had people ask if jobs were still open and then ignore my instructions on how to apply to send me their materials directly because we “made a connection.” So as long as the OP actually listens to the person who tells them what to do, I think they’ll be fine.

  31. april ludgate*

    #2 I’m also 22 and I work in an office where I’m the youngest by probably 10 years. Whenever the age question comes up I’m always so tempted to answer with that Taylor Swift song about being 22, just to see what the reaction would be.

    1. KerryOwl*

      They probably wouldn’t be familiar with the song, because grownups don’t listen to Taylor Swift.

      1. fposte*

        Ooh, meow :-). Tons of grownups listen to Taylor Swift, including the 22-year-olds we’re discussing. Admittedly, some grownups listen to her because their kids want to hear her, but those are likeliest of all to be able to sing along to every lyric.

      2. april ludgate*

        Grown-ups also don’t refer to themselves as “grown-ups,” and I’m pretty sure there’s no age limit on listening to radio stations that play popular music :). That song was pretty unavoidable a couple years ago.

        1. Not Here or There*

          I guess most people would classify me as a “grown-up” since I’m in my early 30’s (how did this happen?! I still feel like a starry-eyed kid), and my grandmother-in-law has a Taylor Swift song as her ringtone.

  32. Helen*

    #5, it’s possible that having such an extensive application process means that they haven’t gotten as many applications as they’d like and are keeping it open longer.

  33. NurseB*

    #2 – I got this a lot when I was in my 20’s and learned to say “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you” with a smile and a laugh. That worked 99.9% of the time since it made people realize it was pretty unreasonable to ask. Of course there are always going to be people who can’t take the hint but you just deal with them as they come.

  34. Cat*

    So with all this talk of one vs. two spaces after a period, can we not all agree that the real menace is documents where the spacing after a period is inconsistent? Because I can deal with one or two, but I regularly have people* send me documents where it varies from sentence to sentence and I am completely incapable of actually perceiving the content until I standardize it.

    * Mostly engineering consultants; not judging, just observing.

    1. fposte*

      In any writing instance, the real menace is inconsistency. That’s my basic standard when I’m teaching; I don’t care what style you follow, it just has to be consistent, because otherwise you look like you’re sloppy and careless rather than you’re somebody adhering to a particular style. And of course the practical reason consistency is important is that if they’re deviating consistently from the style sheet it’s a heck of a lot easier to search and replace the deviancies. (I like the way that sounds morally corrupt, though.)

      1. Chinook*

        “In any writing instance, the real menace is inconsistency. ”

        That is what I was taught too. Living in Canada, we waiver between American and British grammar, punctuation and spelling rules, which is a pain in the butt for spelling tests (especially when different subjects use textbooks spell the same words differently). The rule we are taught from grade 1 onward is that we just need to pick one version of a rule and use it consistently (atleast within a document).

        This also explains why I thought “centre” (a building) and “center” (the middle of anythign) had two completely different meanings because, in my head, that was the rule even if the world happens to disagree.

    2. Heather*

      Yes. We can absolutely agree on that. I favor single space, but I can tolerate double as long as you PICK ONE.

    3. sunny-dee*

      Re: engineering…. I was trying to proofread something for an engineer once, and he told me it wasn’t necessary because English *was* his native language. I just said, “No, Rob, your native language is Python. Let me fix this for you.”

      I felt clever.

  35. Blue_eyes*

    I had never even heard of double spaces after a period until I went to college. A friend asked me to edit an essay of hers and I removed all the double spaces after periods – I thought they were a mistake at first until I realized she had done it throughout. We even grew up in the same state not too far from each other, so I suspect it just has to do with differences between the typing teachers we had. (I learned to type in the mid to late 90s, so it was all on computers).

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yep, I can remember teachers at the same schools insisting on different spacing rules from elementary school upwards. Older folks generally prefer the 2 spaces, but there are still plenty of youngins who do after being taught incorrectly by their old-fashioned teachers.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        That must have been a pain. I attended the same school for middle school and high school and they were pretty strict about formatting, but at least they all agreed – they even gave everyone a copy of the MLA style manual at the beginning of high school.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Out of curiosity I had to go get out my MLA Handbook and see what it says about spacing after punctuation. It basically states that a single space has become the most common, but there is nothing inherently wrong with using a double space, as long as it is used consistently throughout the work.

    2. Myrin*

      I see your “never heard of double spaces until I went to college” and raise you a “I’ve never heard of this thing until this morning when I started reading this thread”.

      I’ve never had any kind of typing classes, I just remember my father saying to put one space after the period (but that was as opposed to NO space, not double spaces) when I started to learn how to write on a Computer, my mum – who grew up with typewriters and only learned how to use a Computer last year – never mentioned such a thing (although she did do the “manually click to get into the next line” that someone else mentioned until I pointed out that Computers do that automatically), and I’ve read tons of stuff by a diverse group of people in various settings and never once encountered double spaces.

      I’m fascinated! (Then again, I’m neither in the US nor in the UK – the only two countries mentioned above as far as I saw – so maybe it’s just never been done here at all? Intriguing.)

      1. Jen RO*

        I’m also not in the US or UK, and was also taught to use one period as opposed to zero periods… Intriguing indeed.

  36. Anonymous Ninja*

    Question for Alison re#1: you’ve provided some great tips, but what if the problem really is horrible management? What are some ways the OP can cope in such an environment? (Either while looking for new employment or accepting that this part of the job).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sometimes just accepting “I work somewhere with horrible management, but the trade-off is that I get a really short commute / work that I love / a paycheck / etc.” can help you feel better about it. Often it’s the “there has to be a way for me to change this” struggle that makes it the most unpleasant. Being realistic about what you can and can’t change can really help.

      1. some1*

        And sometimes the problem is solved if the manager leaves the position or there’s a re-structure and a new manager starts holding people accountable – though I can understand why people don’t want to wait for that possibility.

      2. Anonsie*

        It’s worth mentioning that with hospitals, dealing with insane management issues is something that is often inherent to the job.

      3. Jennifer*

        Exactly. I am doing my best to smile and take everything that’s dished out at me because there’s really no change I can make, or that my boss can make. And I’m not homeless yet, eh? Or working fast food or retail.

        I concur that it’s the feeling of rebellion that makes it worse, the idea that you theoretically could do something about it when you really can’t.

  37. soitgoes*

    #4 I’m in my late 20s and I did the double-space thing until it came time to write my graduate thesis and MLA format required that I switch to single spaces. I think double spaces are only really outdated in that context, since MLA and APA are always throwing in weird updates (basically just to get you to buy a new handbook). If you’re in a field where the mechanics of writing don’t come into play, I don’t think it matters much. But if you think you’re going to come across people (a career that appeals to people with English degrees, perhaps), I’d make the switch.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I just posted above about MLA format. I looked in my MLA Handbook (sixth edition, 2003) and it says that single spaces seem to be more common now, but double spaces are acceptable as long as they are used consistently. Do you have an updated version that says only single spaces are allowed?

      1. soitgoes*

        I admit that I’m going by what my thesis advisor told me, but my mom’s an English professor too, and single spaces seem to be the hard-and-fast norm (if not a nailed-down rule) in academia.

  38. Alexandra, PHR*

    I missed the memo on the one space rule. I’m under 30, I’ve never even used a typewriter! I asked around the office, and thankfully, they didn’t get the memo either, so I feel better now.

  39. LBK*

    #2 – I graduated college at 20 and have always had a baby face, so I get this question all the time too. I usually go for “Yep, I get that a lot!” when asked about my age and then move on – people don’t typically want an exact number, and I’ve never had someone stop and say “No, really, how old are you?” I don’t think most people mean it in a condescending way, it’s more just something of note, like 6′ 8″ people who get asked how tall they are all the time.

    However, if someone does ask in a particularly demeaning way, I opt for “Old enough,” accompanied by the most withering Dowager Countess expression I can muster.

  40. Iro*

    #2 I feel you. I’m 27 now, but I’ve done nothing but skyrocket up the corporate ladder since starting at an entry level position after college. I still get the “how old are you?” questions, but I mostly take it as a compliment. I have a baby boomer mentor who I’ve talked to about these sorts of things, and it’s helped me understand that most “Well you’re just a baby!” comments are meant as a compliment.

    That being said, be prepared for some awkward situations. When I was 25 I was promoted to manager and in a closed door meeting to discuss the moral and turnover problems we had most of my 30 and 40 something colleagues started ranting about how it’s all these “something for nothing” millenials fault.

    1. Development professional*

      I also used to get “you’re just a baby” comments in my mid-20s, when I had a pretty advanced position for my age, usually from colleagues who were about 15 years older than me. I think the key to Alison’s advice here is *and then move on* no matter how you choose to answer the question. I think it’s more important to think about how you’re going to pivot the conversation away from your youthfulness than whatever you say in response to the question itself. I never minded saying “I’m 26” but I always wished I were more prepared to redirect the conversation before we got to “You’re just a baby!”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I sometimes think “You’re just a baby!” when I go for a checkup, because my doctor’s office is a residency program and they get fresh new faces all the time. And they are really young, too. But I would never SAY it!

        *sigh* I’m old.

  41. De Minimis*

    I was taught the double space. I was about the last group of students at my school to learn typing on an actual typewriter, I think by the time I graduated everyone was learning on computers. I’m in my early 40s.

    I still follow the rule, but it’s never really come up because I’ve never had to actually write anything formally for work.

  42. H*

    #3 makes me glad I work in an archival institution. It may be unpleasantly cold in winter, but the constant, year-round 68 degrees is best for our stuff and non-negotiable. It also means I am being constantly reminded about the two space rule, because my boss and everything up here is definitely a relic. (Personally it’s something I can’t really see on a computer, but perhaps people with more astute eyes find it noticeable).

    #2, I really feel you. I’m 26 and apparently look much younger than that, because people ask me if this job is my work study, or when I’m scheduled to graduate. When I say “oh, I’m not a student here” people usually get the hint that it’s because I have a college degree and this is my real job, but sometimes I get “oh, you should really pursue a college education” or “XX is such a wonderful school, you should really think about attending!” (The flip side is that when I’m out with my 22-yr-old brother, who looks young but not THAT young, I get asked if he’s my son.)

    1. Zillah*

      I would get that sometimes when my brother and I were younger – I remember it happening for the first time when I was 16 or 17 and he was 10 or 11. I was completely dumbfounded.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Oh yes, on #3. We keep our house at a constant 68, because temperature changes aren’t good for the piano. It’s also a compromise, because even with only 2 people, one wants it warmer and one wants it cooler.

  43. Brett*

    #4 I am going to throw a nasty curveball into the one period/two period conversation.

    How many spaces do you put after the final punctuation in a paragraph? (Or hard return?)

    I think there is a separate break developing between people who put no spaces and people who put two spaces. This originally stems from LaTeX, where manual breaking is highly discouraged and must be directly specified by command, and has carried over to Markdown where breaks must be manually specified by placing two spaces before a carriage return and new line (an enter key on most keyboards is both a carriage return and a newline, though they are two separate characters and the entry order varies by operating system).
    I do not even understand the technical details well enough to explain why this is, but basically the program has much stronger control of the formatting when it manages the breaks rather than simply treating all CR+LF sequences as hard breaks. So, two spaces at the end of a line is how you manually specify a hard break, such as the end of a paragraph.
    Why is this break coming about? Reddit and GitHub. Both use Markdown and once you use either one regularly for a while, you start to develop the two spaces at the end of a paragraph habit. It might not seem like something that you could visibly notice in a person’s typing, but if you are dropping documents into GitHub for collaboration, it becomes readily apparent who does this and who does not. (I have also noticed that programmers tend to drop contractions in writing. I am not sure if this is because of the random errors that apostrophes can throw, or some weird impact of ST:TNG.)

    1. fposte*

      Do they still call it a “carriage return”? It’s interesting that the most technical fields use the most old-fashioned terms.

      (And I always notice extra spaces after a manual line break. They screw lots of our stuff up so I search-and-replace ’em out.)

      1. Brett*

        Yep, that is what they are specified as in the ASCII standard. Character 10 is a “Line Feed” and character 12 is a “Carriage Return”.
        So I guess Markdown related habits could cause some real issues after all.

    2. Vera*

      Well, my husband and I use Latex for all documents, as it is the standard in physics publications, and we have never used double spaces or developed that habit. But in our experience double spaces are something only Americans would do, so as non Americans we are not in risk of getting the habit. Latex would put a bigger space after the end of the paragraph, which creates problems with abbreviations, forcing you to tell Latex that space should be normal size :D

      1. Brett*

        Yeah, LaTex does not use the double-space at the end of a paragraph convention; that’s a relatively new thing specific to Markdown. You use \newline, \linebreak, \\, \\*, \par, or \break depending on the specific context of the break.
        A double space at the end of the line in Markdown is equivalent to \newline or \par depending on the context (maybe \break too, but I don’t understand \break).

  44. Gwen*


    I definitely recommend switching anything that will be published (to the web or otherwise) into single spaces, because I promise you that anyone who has to prepare your work for the web will end up with an eye twitch after having to remove a period after every…single…sentence. Not that I would know.

    1. Indiraa*

      Yess. I put a lot of client writing onto websites and I have to remove their double and triple spaces everywhere. Some CMS remove them automatically, but others like WordPress don’t, so I need to hunt them down and remove them. Also, nearly all of the double-spacers I work with alternate between 1, 2, or 3 spaces after sentences, which gets really tiring to edit.

  45. Not So NewReader*

    Even on the old mechanical typewriters, I never liked the look of two spaces after a period. When they started shifting to one space I thought that was pretty cool. To me, it always looked like there were little holes in my document when I used double spaces- I found it distracting.
    I will say it bothers me more with my own work than it does if I am looking at someone else’s work, though. Everyone processes stuff differently.

  46. HR Manager*

    I still double-space because that was how I was taught back in middle-school (on a typewriter!) and then high school onward. No one has ever said anything to me, but then I’m not in editing. I personally don’t care. If this is the only issue and assuming you’re not in a type-setting or an editing job, I highly doubt anyone is making snide remarks about spacing. If they are, they need to find something else to fill their spare time.

  47. C Average*

    I actually quit the two-space habit cold turkey the day that Slate piece ran. I have an unhealthy admiration for pretty much everything Farhad Manjoo writes, and I still miss him on Slate!

  48. BadPlanning*

    For OP3 — would a gel cooling mat on your chair help out? I know they make them for dog beds — but I was thinking it might work for sitting on with an office chair. Might be kind of weird to sit on though.

    Is the fan ban simply because it’s a fan — or does it rattle or vibrate, etc and that is annoying people? If its just the idea of a fan (OMG, OP is blowing around cold air!!1!) — maybe if you upgraded to a bladeless fan (Dyson makes a fancy one) then it would be less of a mental block? Sadly, the bladeless ones are pricey.

    I would be roasting too.

  49. Purple Jello*

    1. Doesn’t seem right that you’re responsible for the work of someone you can’t discipline. Does her manager know how much work this assistant is displacing onto others, and the morale of the rest of the department? Can you be explicit with her manager?

    2. If you’re younger than they think, they might believe you can’t possibly know what you’re talking about – or shouldn’t have the authority. If you’re older than they think, they’ll be jealous you look so young. Your age shouldn’t matter, but it does to some people. Other’s are just looking for small talk. People used to be skeptical if a woman had certain management positions. At least with age, you’ll outgrow the problem. With sexism, we’ve had to wait till the dinosaurs retired.

    3. How does your desk fan affect anyone else? Turn it off when you step away, let your boss know you feel nauseous, and keep doing everything else you mentioned.

    4. Some people will judge you no matter what. Train yourself to space once after each period; do a find and replace of your documents; set up an “autocorrect” to swap the double-space with a single-space.

    1. Purple Jello*

      BTW – 25!!! Yikes. I’d have to be immobile for hours and in a tank top & shorts. Hope you win the right to the fan.

  50. AnonEMoose*

    OP #3, I found something at my local Renaissance Festival (yes, seriously) that might help you (and maybe others who run hot). There’s a vendor who goes by “Lady Artisan” who sells body coolers (aka bodice chillers) (if you Google her, she has a website – the actual site, not the Etsy shop – that’s someone different).

    Basically, a body chiller is like a fat metal test tube with a cork in it. You fill it with ice and wear it against your sternum (she sells them on a cord you can wear around your neck if you don’t have a convenient bra to tuck it in). It’s amazing how much it helps. I’ve survived days over 90 degrees outdoors at Renaissance Festival in full costume with one of them.

    And if you’re one of those who run cold, you can do the same trick – but use uncooked rice or something similar in the tube – just heat the rice in the microwave, and then put it in the tube (because metal + microwave = BAD).

    1. NoPantsFridays*

      Thanks for this — sounds like a great idea. The only concern I have is how long does it take to melt? I’ve tried something similar with a lunch box ice pack (those rectangular hard-shell ones) and it got warm too quickly. If bodice chillers are similar, it might melt too fast and OP probably doesn’t have anywhere to refreeze it.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        It depends a bit on just how warm you actually are; the warmer you are, the faster the ice melts. But you don’t actually need to refreeze it. Just empty out the melted stuff, and put in more ice!

        Of course, that does mean you need a source for ice, but at least some offices have that available (where I work, the refrigerators have ice makers, for example).

        1. NoPantsFridays*

          Oh, right, that makes more sense. We have an ice machine in our lunch room, so that would work. My office isn’t warm, so I’m not personally in need of this, but it sounds realistic for many offices. :)

  51. mel*

    #5. I feel for you! I just applied online for a retail job which took up a much bigger chunk of my evening than I’d wanted. I was made to complete TWELVE PAGES of personality assessment questions, such as “I solve business problems using resources available to me – agree/disagree?”

    Again, this is for RETAIL. Hundreds of questions…

    1. LBK*

      I think those are actually more common in retail than other fields because really the only things you need to qualify for a retail position are basic common sense, reading comprehension and a mild level of professionalism. When you’re getting a ridiculous number of qualified applicants every day, you want to waste even less time with the ones that can’t do simple stuff like say “Yes, I would report someone for stealing from a register”.

  52. DrPepper Addict*

    OP #5 – I’ve had that same question before, and though this is sneaky I came up with my own solution (though I agree with what Alison said too). I just created a separate gmail account with a different name that I use in situations like that, so if the employer is weird and there’s the off chance it WOULD hurt your chances at the position, they won’t associate that email and name with you and if they reply you have the information you need anyway. You just have to remember to check that address once you’ve written since it isn’t your normal address.

  53. Rex*

    #2: Now that I’m in my mid-thirties (and the greys have started to come in) I get this less, but what has worked for me: “I’m probably older than you think I am, but thank you!” said with a smile. And then change the subject.

    Also agree with above comments to make sure the way you dress and style your hair is on point, and not adding to your challenges. Also, another trick I use is dressing even a little older than my age, but that’s tricky to do and not look a little dowdy. YMMV.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Babyfaces unite! One thing that I only recently realized that, in my job, it doesn’t actually matter how young I look (very) or how I dress (my preferred style is “young” but I’ve tried dressing older for years, with occasionally awkward results.)

      What matters is truly feeling secure in my expertise and authority. My business partner is 15+ years older than I am, with an impressive resume to match her longer experience, so I was feeling extra-young at the beginning. But when I was stressing out about dressing “older” for a client meeting, or wanting to hide my blue streak of hair, she just cocked an eyebrow and said: “What are you talking about? You look great and all you need to do is open your mouth. You know your shit and you’ll own the floor.”

      And hey! She was right. That client adores us, and defers to my authority with regularity.

      1. Rex*

        I agree with all this, too. It’s worth making sure you’re not projecting insecurity. A candid colleague or friend might be able to help you see if there are any personal tics that are making you seem younger than you are.

  54. Mena*

    #2: Whether you are 20 or 80, no one should be asking you how old you are in the workplace. At any age, this question is entirely un-necessary. In any case, my response would be, ‘Why are you asking?’ with a neutral smile. Please don’t answer the question.

    #4: Yes, you may be judged; it is very out-dated. It may be interpreted as careless – never the impression to send.

  55. HR Manager*

    Forgot to add:
    #2 – I sympathize with you. I have a babyface, and this was constantly a question as I worked. When I was working as a teen (16 or so), I once had a lady on the street who told me I looked like I was 12. Other Asians even think I am young looking. It’s annoying when you’re trying to establish your career. If someone asks — just throw back “Why are you asking about about my age?” You don’t have to say that with ‘tude, but I think most modern work places today know that asking about age is not kosher and this will let them know you are not comfortable with that question. Some people may ask only because they think they’ve earned that right with you, and some may ask to use that info to be dismissive of your opinion or experience. As long as you are comfortable pushing back with a “my age isn’t relevant to the task or project we need to focus on”, I think people will get that this is not an appropriate question.

  56. SerfinUSA*

    Did all multiple hundreds of comments on this thread have to do with spacing and archaic typing practices? I gave up reading, then gave up skimming, after the first 100 or so.

    1. Clever Name*

      Collapse all replies is your friend. I just skipped over the double-space responses. I think it’s hilarious people feel so passionately about this.

  57. Emma*

    The double space after a period issue….

    I’m conducting a little test right now. I have never broken the habit of using two spaces, and have been called on it only once, when I was writing for the web and didn’t realize that a single space is the norm. Frankly, the difference, visually, between one and two spaces isn’t enough for me to always be able to tell how many spaces someone is using. But, for what it’s worth (didn’t read through all 400+ comments, so I don’t know if this was mentioned) most word processing and e-mail programs these days automatically correct the double spacing. I’m typing this comment using two spaces after the periods, and I’ll see if this program corrects the spaces after I submit the comment. Some blogs definitely do.

    In any case I don’t see how, in most cases, using two spaces (which is actually more work than typing one!) could be seen as “lazy.” If your job requires the use of one space and you refuse to switch from using two, and your word processing program doesn’t auto-correct and you’re making more work for someone else who has to go through and make changes, then I suppose that’s lazy. But otherwise, who cares?

    1. Emma*

      Follow-up… yup, my comment was auto-corrected upon submission, to include only one space after the periods.

    2. JAL*

      I’m kind of jealous of you to have the ability to do this. I was NEVER taught to do this, even though I type between 80 – 90 WPM. Not knowing this kind of bites me in the rear, because law firms use this style ALL the time and when I was interviewing, I failed a lot of typing tests because I don’t do it and when I do it, it seems so unnatural and I fail because I’m too slow.

  58. Malissa*

    I’ve always looked younger than I am. I always took it as a compliment. I never thought twice about giving my age.
    Then I turned 29. The conversations started going like this:
    “how old are you?”
    “No really, how old are you?”
    The answer changed to “Old enough.” really quick. At that point I figured I was done ever telling anybody my age with-out a very good reason.

  59. The Strand*

    #2, Maybe it won’t go away. I’ve been in your shoes for about twenty years (I’ve recently crossed the rubicon of 40.) At this point, I find it hilarious that people still mistake me for a college student in my late 20s and my actual friends from college years are asking me if I have a hidden portrait upstairs. I have realized that looking the way I do, has benefits – people perceive me as young, so they’re more willing to give me the benefit of the doubt sometimes. Some people underestimate me; but it also makes me more approachable; people aren’t as afraid of looking stupid in front of me, I think, which is why I get asked for directions or help by strangers. As for what it’s like for men, my husband is also baby-faced. Young-looking men may get some additional credibility from the bystander, but they’re also assumed to be more hot-headed, immature, and so on. I know he’s suffered a bit from this in his career, too.

    People are going to challenge and doubt you throughout your career, and well, life. Unless we look like Steve Rogers after the Captain America process (i.e. supreme genetic celebrities), unfortunately, there are people out there who are just not going to like us, or whose gut instinct is to doubt us. If it’s not that we’re young, it’s that we’re too old, probably fogeys who haven’t been keeping up with the world; it’s because we’re so fat we must mainline Butterfingers all day, or so skinny someone obviously needs to give us a sandwich; and some people indeed will have gender, racial or other prejudices they don’t hide very well. And frankly, even people who are beautiful (supreme genetic celebrities) deal with assumptions that they are stupid, shallow and got everything through their looks or charisma.

    Don’t worry about winning people over or justifying that you’re as good as you say you are. There are people out there who will notice your resemblance to their hated third cousin, or they’re pissed because you apparently prefer emacs or New Coke or you’re the wrong kind of Lutheran, and nothing you could ever say or do will be enough for them.

    Many times, people are not even thinking about you – they’re thinking about themselves when they ask the question – “Why couldn’t I get my shit together at 22?” or “Wow, this woman is amazing. I better retrain!” or “Maybe I’m too entrenched to make the kind of changes she’s recommending?” A soap opera actor famously explained that during close-ups, you think about what you’re going to have for lunch. It’s often not about you. Never ascribe to malice which can be explained by social awkwardness, or even a self-absorbed moment. I had an embarrassing moment at a conference a few years ago where a well known person in my field adjusted something on my clothes while I was talking to her and a few others; it came off like a swipe. When I saw her again the following year, after grumbling to my friends about being embarrassed, I realized how awkward she was, and that the move said a lot more about her, than me (including that it was probably a move out of nervousness or compulsion). Likewise, anyone who is an ass when they ask you how old you are – it really says more about them.

    Focus on moving the conversation and process along back to what you’re training or talking about.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Love the Dorian Gray reference ;-)!

      I also tend to look young. I’m also short, naturally blonde, and curvy. It sucked in my 20s, because it was difficult to be taken seriously. In my 40s, it’s easier.

      For the OP, I’d suggest continuing to present yourself in a professional way. I don’t know that you necessarily need to dress “older,” just make sure that you’re dressing professionaly, including things like make-up, fingernails, and so on. A calm “Why do you ask?” is a perfectly reasonable response to “how old are you?” For what it’s worth, I feel your frustration – been there, done that, and it’s no fun!

  60. Mena*

    #2: it is disappointing that this question got buried under so much talk about out-dated sentence spacing. In the workplace, you shouldn’t ask anyONE their age.

  61. Tracey Lee*

    For the poster who needs a fan – I have the same problem and bought a footrest with a built-in fan/heater (it can be run with heat or without). I find it very helpful and the fact that it’s under my desk makes it less noticeable than a desktop fan. I know you’re in Scotland, but you should be able to find something similar at a local office supply company. Here’s a link to one similar to mine http://www.staples.com/Fellowes-Climate-Control-Footrest/product_810965

  62. buddleia*

    Re: #4 – I stopped double-spacing after a period because I got too lazy to press the space bar twice. So when I found out years later you’re not supposed to do it anymore, I felt way ahead of the game! Laziness pays off! After a period is the only instance in which you “need” to double-space and because the majority of spacing that we do is just one, it got easy to not double-space after a period.

  63. OP #2*

    OP #2 here… I wasn’t sure if it would be better to respond to each question individually or to just post a reply… so hopefully those who offered me advice see this. Thank you, Alison and other commenters, for your suggested replies to the dreaded “how old are you” question.

    I liked the suggestions of saying, “why do you ask?” with a neutral smile, because I agree with those commenters who said it is inappropriate to ask anyone’s age in the workplace and I think that will handle the people who will come ask me without any preamble. However, as many of the other commenters noted, most people are just trying to be nice and will start with a compliment (e.g. “Wow, you’re doing a great job for someone so young, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”), so I feel that reply would be too cold for some situations– in which case I think I’ll try some of the other suggestions such as “I stopped counting after 20”, “that’s top secret”, “older than I look”, etc. I definitely don’t want to be too snarky in my replies, as I feel that would make me look childish… again, something I’m trying to avoid. :-)

    I did encounter a colleague once who rather rudely went on for a long time about how I “looked like I was 12” (she was actually fired not long after for unrelated work performance reasons). For the record, I am definitely very appearance conscious *because* of my age–I’m always trying to act/look as professional as possible. I wear suits, do my nails & hair, I’m confident, etc… the problem is that I just look like a “pretty young thing” (another comment I’ve received…) in a field where it will draw comments, so I expect I’ll just have to live with it until I start looking “old enough”. I appreciated the advice to essentially just own it and move on.

    Again, thanks so much for the suggestions, they are really helpful!

    1. Willow+Sunstar*

      The publishing industry needs to decide once and for all on this. I am with you, as someone who reads books and also writes stories. For manuscript submissions, two spaces are still required by the vast majority of print publishing companies.

  64. weird name gal*

    It does not look like it is incorrect to use 2 spaces, unless your instructor, editor or boss says otherwise!

    APA 6th edition says: Chapter 4: The Mechanics of Style
    Punctuation—return to two spaces after the period at the end of the sentence recommended for ease of reading comprehension.

    MLA 7th edition says:
    Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks, this spacing is shown in the examples in the MLA Handbook and the MLA Style Manual. As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.

  65. Mary Alice*

    Reading #1 I’m concerned that the CNA’s behavior may be crossing into abuse. Adult Protective Services takes negligence and inappropriate behavior toward patients very seriously. Please remind your boss of their legal (and moral) responsibilities toward their patients. I’m assuming that you are a mandatory reporter, so you may need to call APS yourself. A client being neglected on your shift could put your license at risk.

  66. Barefoot Librarian*

    I know I’m a few days late responding to this (I was out of town at an interview!!), but I wanted to chime in regards to OP#1’s problem. We dealt with something similar at my old library. We had an employee that was incredibly negative and paranoid. She was convinced that one of our library assistants was casting spells on her (kind of her brand of conspiracy theory) and came to be nasty and negative to everyone else thinking we were all not taking her seriously or perhaps out to get her too. We tried repeatedly to talk it out with her and reassure that she was valued and that the department would be healthier if everyone talked and moved past our differences. Very diplomatic.

    Then she was written up a few times when she verbally attacked people (myself included) for imagined offenses and took to muttering about the boss behind her back and giving people death-looks if they asked her to do something. Finally we started documenting EVERY SINGLE incident.

    April 1, 11:24am – J— was asked to check in a patron’s book. She snatched it from the patron and muttered angrily while performing the task.
    April 8, 2pm – J— harassed library employee T— for being behind the circulation desk. She pursued her into the hall and continued to yell at her. T— did not engage her back. (T— is permitted in that area)

    You get the idea. After a few weeks of this the higher ups finally fired her. The list of examples of her inability to work with the team was really hard to ignore that point.

    I don’t know if that helps but I had to share. Best of luck!

  67. Kdoo*

    #4 OP responding here:

    I’m glad that all of you think sentence spacing is such a hot topic! I had never even heard about single spacing until recently and I never had a college professor correct me (and I majored in journalism!). I decided to write in because my partner and I have been debating this for a while and I knew Alison loves grammar and style questions. He says my sentences look awkwardly spaced out, I honestly never noticed. Maybe since he is a designer/artist, these things stand out to him. I personally like the double space as a mental break – I feel like my thought is complete and that I am starting a new one.

    I work in sales, so most of my writing is email correspondence. My work is not published, but I do spend 70% of my day reading and writing emails. My clients are all in higher education, many at Ivy League schools, so I want to make sure I come across as intelligent and detail oriented. I have been checking to see what my clients and coworkers use, and I can honestly say it’s about 50/50 right now.

    I asked my younger sibling, who works in marketing and is 24 years old, what she used and she also had never heard of single spacing (guess we had the same teachers?). I immediately sent her this thread since so many marketing folks have commented. I think she has decided to change to the single space, I’m sure to the delight of her web publisher.

    I do want to mention that the latest version of APA style has gone BACK to the two spaces. http://www.apastyle.org/manual/whats-new.aspx

    Some people just like to keep it confusing.

    Thanks for all your thoughtful responses. I loved hearing everyone’s different experiences about learning to type and how this seemingly minor detail is so important depending on your field!

  68. Willow Sunstar*

    As for the two spaces thing, I am an aspiring writer. When you look up manuscript submission requirements for print publishing of novels, they all still pretty much say 2 spaces after periods, I won’t change until the publishing industry does across the board.

  69. Meg Danger*

    I am in my late 20’s, but I did not own a computer until my last year of college. Through high-school and college I used a typewriter I found in my parents attic, and the space bar was only a “half-space” meaning that I learned to double space between each word, and quadruple-space between sentences (it’s possible that I could have purchased a different type-set cassette, but I am not sure). It was a frustrating way to type, but it was less frustrating than watching to make sure I didn’t type off the edge of the page if I got into a flow, or having to re-type an entire page if I made a major mistake towards the bottom. I love being able to edit as I go now! I still double space between sentences (see this post for example), but maybe I should un-learn that habit now too, as most of my original typing habits are obsolete.

  70. Leigh*

    I’m a bit late to the party here, but I just wanted to say I completely empathize with the OP. One of the reasons I ventured into the world of self-employment was that I couldn’t stand being in a hot office (or the headaches and nausea caused by having to share a cubicle with a person who insisted on using a banana-scented Glade plug-in).

    My co-workers used to keep the thermostat at 75, which I think is entirely too hot even if you don’t “run warm.” At least when it’s cold, people can put on sweaters; you can’t undress yourself in the middle of the office when it’s too hot.

Comments are closed.