No More Two Spaces After a Sentence

I took a typing class in high school because my dad said that it would come in handy in college when I started typing papers. This was years before computer were prevalent and I learned on an electric typewriter. Now that I use a computer everyday I admit that it was one of the best things I ever did. In that computer class, I learned that one always types two spaces after a [BrE: full stop/AmE: period]. I used that rule nearly all my typing life.

Then I started blogging and I noticed that WordPress formatted a sentence strangely if I used two spaces after a full stop. If the sentence ended on one line, it started the next line with a space before beginning the next sentence. Well, I hated the look of that so I trained myself to only type one space and that carried over into other things I typed and I use only one space. Turns out, that is the correct way now! Farhad Manjoo of the Slate.com explains:

When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. “Who says two spaces is wrong?” they wanted to know.

Typographers, that’s who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences.

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8 thoughts on “No More Two Spaces After a Sentence

  1. When I was assistant editor for The College of Preachers Journal, I learned about the one space rule. As I understand it, it IS a typographer’s thing. One of my fun little jobs was to go through everyone’s copy and make sure that there was only one space after each punctuation mark.

  2. Thanks for this, Will, Debbie (two spaces) and I (one space) have disagreed about this for ages! Clearly Debbie (classical typist training) and I (self-taught on computers) had different advice from various sources at different times.

  3. Fascinating – I’ve always used two spaces, thinking it was the correct thing to do. Look, I just did it – old habits die very hard (and I don’t like being wrong!). But (hurrah that time) I shall now try to change and type differently. Thanks for that Will.

  4. I was convinced to make this shift when I started using HTML years ago. In HTML and XML, white space (tabs, spaces, line feeds, etc.) are collapsed to a single space anyway. I assume this is for consistency; it would be hard for a computer to know the semantically correct time to use one space versus two spaces. So I figured that if the computer didn’t care, I shouldn’t either.

  5. Yeah, I learned two spaces after full-stops, colons and commas in typing class in the early 1970s. This HAS changed with time but I still use two spaces when I’m not writing copy to other people’s criteria.

  6. I learned the old school 2-space thing too. Then I relearned. I like the two space look, but really it isn’t necessary. It adds unnecessary length and society’s readers seem to do just fine without that extra space. nowadays you can’t have two spaces in anything online without special code, so there’s really not much point in trying to keep the extra space.

  7. Pingback: Turns Out it Does Matter | Corner Cases

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