How Many Spaces Should You Put After a Period?

I know you have all lost many hours of sleep over this question, so I’m here to relieve your stress. For a journal editor, few tasks are more tedious than going through a document and fixing all the incorrect spacing at the ends of sentences, so please, if you ever decide to send me anything, read this article first. The correct number of spaces after a period is one! Always!

Why were you taught to put two spaces after a period when you were a kid? As this author explains, it’s the fault of the manual typewriters in use during the mid-20th century, which made it difficult to distinguish a single space at the end of sentence. So typesetters made a concession to the single-space rule to accommodate their use.

The readability problem began to go away in the 1970s when the typewriter manufacturers started shifting to proportional typesetting, and today it’s completely gone (unless you use the Courier font . . . why would you do that?). But, like a zombie, the two-space idea continues to hang around, as evidenced by half or more of the article and book review submissions that hit my inbox.

So please help to end the two-space tyranny! Send the typing teacher at your local schools this article!

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About Dr. J

I am an Associate Professor and head of the Department of Humanities at Faulkner University. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy.
This entry was posted in Academia, Culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

232 Responses to How Many Spaces Should You Put After a Period?

  1. Wow, to think it continued on after the invention of computers. I stopped doing it while in college, because the two spaces in h.s. papers looked ridiculous and distracting. Informative post!

    • me says:

      I hate reading without the extra space between sentences.not much different than reading this.maybe we shouldjustskipthespaceallthetimeandseewhathappens

  2. Maggie says:

    I was taught to always put two spaces after a period when writing essays in school and that turned into a bad habit. Now I get really irritated if I see two spaces after a period – it just doesn’t look right to me anymore.

    Nice post – congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed!

    • Ella says:

      I was also taught to space twice after a period. Dam teachers, i tell you. Thank for the post!
      Congrats on getting Fresly Pressed.

      Ella.

      • me says:

        Damn is the correct spelling. ;) I believe the 2 space rule is stupid to change. We have much bigger issues in this world and two spaces is a clear indicator of a new sentence and gives the reader’s eyes a rest. Not all of us are used to the over stimulation of the 25 and under online world.

  3. As an editor by trade and passion, this is a biggie for me.

    Gone are the days of the manual typewriter, so gone are the days for the need to double space after a period…although most of us were trained in that style!

    A hard habit to break, but a necessary one…

  4. capnstephel says:

    I have always put in one space (I don’t think I was taught otherwise)! No more, no less. Two drives me crazy. And that extra space can make a big difference when you’re doing a layout for a book or article or whatever.

    http://tehcatspajamas.wordpress.com/

  5. CrystalSpins says:

    I love you for writing this. I’m in Journalism and page design and the first thing I have to beat out of newbies is this two-space business. In fact, today I am laying out the Senior Citizen’s news and cleaning copy for the product consists mainly of removing these dastardly double spaces from their copy. I just can’t get them to stop! Luckily for me the layout program I work with (Quark) easily replaces double spaces with one.

    Crystal

    • capnstephel says:

      Quark does that? Really? Whoa! (Could have used that bit of info a couple of years ago, lol. Never occurred to me though.) I’ll have to see if InDesign has a function like it..

    • Moe says:

      Other programs will let you do the universal correct as well – previously though, I think I wasted entire seasons of my life deleting those damn extra spaces when editing someone else’s work!

  6. Excellent post!! Like a guy standing up at an AA meeting, I am here to say, “Hi, I am Steve, and I am a two-spacer.” I have always wondered about that, but never took the initiative to figure it out, just kept on typing two spaces. Now I know and will change my ways. I am not going to go back and correct my previous posts, but all future posts will be typed correctly. I suspect it will be terribly difficult to change. Every period I have typed in this comment was immediately, instinctively, followed by two spaces, two swats of Mr. Thumb, who doesn’t know any better, and all of which I have had to go back and correct!

  7. Two spaces after a period is my pet peeve. Even 20-somethings in my generation do it, and it’s such an old school mistake.

  8. 4myskin says:

    What? Only one space?! I honestly never knew that. Even in college, two spaces were the accepted norm. And yes, writing this comment with only one space is very difficult. ;) Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  9. Thanks for clearing this up. I’ve often thought of this but never got around to researching it as something else always came up that seemed to be more important.

  10. Mortira says:

    Good to know! I had just missed that change in school – but my younger sister got the single space lesson when she went to high school. It’s a very hard habit to break!

  11. Sandi says:

    With all due respect, what makes you the expert on this? I think people would be more likely to listen to you if you cited an authority. I myself, love the look of the double space and will not part with it until a real authoritative source declares it to be incorrect. (BTW, changing double spaces to single spaces should be pretty easy with a global change, no?)

    • Dr. J says:

      Hi, Sandi, and thanks for your comment. If you click through to the Slate article I linked, you’ll see the authorities cited. Or you can check the Chicago Manual of Style, MLA handbook, etc., which show the one-space rule.

      • It was the CMOS that convinced me. The only problem is, I was so well trained in high school (on a manual typewriter) that I do it without thinking. Fortunately, most everything I write that I really care about is for the web, and browsers automatically collapse multiple spaces into one (unless you put in no-break spaces, which obviously I don’t).

        When I laid out my book, I took out all the double spaces with search & replace.

    • ultrachemguy says:

      I’m with you, Sandi. Call me an old fart, I don’t care…I have, and always shall remain, a double spacer. Period.

      • Jason says:

        I think I may have just grown accustomed to typing and SEEING the two-space space. To me, just one space seems crowded and jumbled — though I do concede that it definitely depends on the font you’re using. I’m a musician and a lot of my typing seems to come from the same sort of muscle memory as learning a piano piece. I’m not sure I could EVER break the habit of that quick, reflex-like “click-click” that instinctively comes after the end of each sentence. Maybe they can just tighten things up software-wise and automatically delete all of my superfluous spaces! Thank you for the informative post, though. I will try to curb my habit… right after posting this comment, perhaps.

    • Willy says:

      I second Sandi. I like the readability of the double space and will not change no matter who says a single space is “right”. I was taught that the only rule in grammar is the full stop. The rest is all what you make it, design, fads, style, individuality. Dr J. has no authority to tell me what to do.

  12. Luyi says:

    I grew up going to an inner city public school, and all of my classmates single spaced after periods. And then in 7th grade, I went to an elite private school where a disproportionate number of students double spaced after periods. Over the years, I’ve noticed that students who learned to type only from school (lots of inner city public school students, etc) most often use single space and students whose typing was more influenced by their parents (especially the upper class) most often use double space. But this is just what I’ve observed.

  13. Thank you!
    Does this apply to book manuscripts as well? Because if so, i have to change some things post-haste (thank the heavens for the “Find” option under edit). I’ve had a longstanding “discussion” (*argument*) with my girl over this, who insists that two>one, but when i found your article, I read her the top paragraph, and now – hopefully – that will be the end of that (she hit me! call the local athorities).
    Anyway good post, and grats on being FP,
    ~J

  14. You would not believe it but I was just wondering about this… I work in a school that regularly uses two spaces after periods in all official letters and I actually had a debate about the use of 1 vs 2 spaces in official letters… turns out… I was right. :o) had no idea where the use of 2 spaces originated…thanks!

  15. J Roycroft says:

    Thank you for clearing that little issue up.

  16. Seth Miller says:

    Fascinating! Thank you very much for this informative post. I’ve always wondered why we did the double space thing and why it was needed. I was taught to double space after periods since I was little and now it is just habit. I’ve actually tried typing a paragraph without double spacing but my brain automatically makes me do it. In fact I just realized I have been double spacing after each sentence in this comment. Thanks for this post.

  17. halfbakedlog says:

    I just learned this from scanning the Internet this weekend. People are spreading the word about this problem in education. Note: one space. I will work at it.

  18. You have completely rained on my parade. And scrambled my brain, as well. Thanks for the info. I think.

  19. Kellie says:

    I respectfully decline your invitation, or is it a plea? I was taught the two-spaces-after-a-period rule, and I see no reason to change. However, if you were to bring up the QWERTY keyboard debate, I would heartily support a change to that – and my wrists would most likely agree!
    Congrats on FP…

  20. bookjunkie says:

    I am someone who is guilty of 2 spacing since I have done it all my life. I am slowly starting to correct this as it looks ‘off’ when I blog. I immediately pounced to read this post when I saw it Freshly Pressed. Thanks for the clarification and Congrats!! :)

  21. pbpobm says:

    It shouldn’t be too tedious — use the find/replace function in Word to make your life easier!

  22. milieus says:

    We have been having this disagreement at work. I wish I could send this to my boss without me seeming like a smart-ass. Oh, well. If it ever comes up again, maybe I will reference you.

    Thanks for proving me right!
    <3 Milieu.

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  24. J DUBBS says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS. THANK YOU.

    TEAM ONE SPACE!

  25. I have never even wondered how many, so was quite surprized that that was the case. Shoo wee that must be quite irritating to edit though.
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed!!!
    Xx

  26. Letter J says:

    Hi Dr. J, I write for an environmental website and my editor/boss is stuck in the generational, two-spaces-after-a-period rut (along with my mother, come to think of it). It’s incredibly frustrating and I might just need to casually share this post with the both of them. Thanks for the icebreaker!

  27. Are there still typing teachers? What’s your position on the Oxford comma, by the way?

    I love how the two-spaces thing is a vestige of mid-20th century technology and and mechanics.

    • Dr. J says:

      Christopher, American and Brits have been divided for so long over the comma that I don’t make a big deal over it. My personal preference, despite my specialization in British history, is to include the comma between the final two items in a list.

      • I rock the Oxford myself. I gave you a shout on my blog today, and respectfully praised the glories of more than one space =).

      • Willy says:

        I believe that whether or not you put in a comma between the last two items of a list depends on the logic of the list. If the items are all equal and interchangeable, no comma is needed. I bought apples, oranges and grapefruit this morning. But if they are distinct and optional entities, then a comma should be used. I like Romanesque churches, fortified castles, and medieval towns.

  28. Amen!

    Neat little trick: because there is never any real reason to use two spaces in a row, you can use an modern word processor’s “find/replace” function to quickly remove all of the superfluous spaces without having to painstakingly review the whole document.

    Start by using “Ctrl-F” to pull up the find function. Now just find all of the ” ” in the document, and “replace all” with ” “. That should remove all those pesky double spaces! We only have to keep doing this until our grammatical nagging finally causes all of the diehard double spacers to give up their archaic ways.

  29. Evie Garone says:

    Ok, I see you feel very strongly about this subject. I promise I will never double space after a period again!!

  30. Very true, but every time I try to leave one space I think of Miss Wilson and her red pen poised over my high school essays and I sneak in an extra space to ease my conscience!

  31. Circe says:

    Thank you for this post, I hate seeing that vacant extra space between sentences. I have lost sleep over it.

  32. gabistan says:

    amen!

  33. Lori says:

    Thanks for posting this, now I know! I was also taught the two-space rule in high school typing class. I’ve since gone back and forth, never quite sure which was correct. I did find that the more writing I had to do for school, the more likely I would be to use a single space after a sentence, that extra keystroke adds up!

  34. huffygirl says:

    There are still many people alive who learned to type on a typewriter, and not a computer keyboard, and hence were taught that under pain of death, or failing typing class, that one must always put two spaces after a period. I’m one of those folks, but since I was disabused of this notion in grad school, have been trying diligently to adhere to the one space rule. But old habits do die hard. So, how did I do?

    BTW, congrats on being FP’d!

    • I learned the same thing in the mid-90’s. Sadly, I could never stop looking at the keys, so the teacher had to put one of those boards over it. I totally got a D in that class.

    • bookmole says:

      Get a twitter account – that’s how I broke my habit! But I have to say, when typing posts in the WP interface I use two, because one space after a period there looks like I have forgotten it completely.

  35. Robert Marie says:

    I have offen wondered about this, and now I know. Dr. J, I have to wonder, given your intrest in humanities and faith what goes through the mind of a person who sees this. http://www.mftms13.wordpress.com with regarding humanities and http://www.futurequest.wordpress.com regarding faith.

  36. makingup3000 says:

    I never knew there were two. But sometimes I think I might do two so it doesn’t look scrunched up. I’ll have to pay more attention now. Haha.

  37. Vicki says:

    I am very pleased to read an article about the ending period!

    Yes, I was one of those people that was taught to space twice after an ending period. It is hard to change. I’ve since worked as a typesetter for a newspaper company and believe that is when I finally learned to use one space instead of two. However, habits are hard to break. I still find myself spacing twice and then returning to correct the spacing or I’d correct one space by making two spaces! I’ve stayed confused as I was not sure whether one or two spaces was correct, so thank you for your article. I will continue to work hard at breaking this habit and I definitely will not make two spaces from a one space!

  38. fitforakid says:

    Thank you for this. I cannot wait to tell my mother. She swears by the two space rule.

  39. What a surprise for me. I am a sixty-one year old writer who has been two-spacing for as long as I can remember. Old habits will be hard to break. The thumb automattically goes to the space bar and hits twice after every period. I am not even sure I like the looks of the one space. Everything appears to be a very long run on sentence. I will do my best, but I know it will be hard.

  40. YAY! I had this right, lol.

  41. enjoibeing says:

    i believe that 2 spaces after a period makes my papers in college fill up more thus having to write less haha jk. good post though ill keep this in mind next time the professor tells us to space twice after a period.

    http://enjoibeing.wordpress.com/

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  43. educlaytion says:

    Thanks for the freedom! You’re the voice of authority. I’ve had this discussion with many people and constantly see inconsistency in writing. Glad to have the decree: one space for all.

  44. WordCrafter says:

    Always 1 space for me. I can’t stand it when I see people use 2.

  45. I put one; plus, I’m an avid user of the TeX typesetting system, which throws a wobbly if you put more than one.

  46. anonnickus says:

    I think I get it. One space was always correct. Then it was two from neccesity. Now it is one again. Always! If history stays consistent and it must it will be two again at some point. For now it helps me focus that I have ended a thought when I double space. Either one space or two looks fine after I have finished. I do wish to be correct. I will bet that quiting smoking will have been easier than will be going to the single space. All single spaces here. Thanks for the post.

  47. harkheindzel says:

    Ok. Guess i’m gonna stop the habit.

  48. Thank you for clarifying! I have struggled with this for a very long time. Though it’s hard for me to resist, I will stop inserting two spaces. Let this be my last 2-space post.

    Okay, it’s bizarre. I’m very uncomfortable. Baby steps. Breathe deeply.

    • Aurian says:

      I’m with you Jerry. Baby steps. It just looks so cluttered! How do you know when to breathe? I’m not sure this is going to work for me. I feel like all the sentences are just tumbling out rather than waiting their turn… This could end badly.

  49. Wow. How did I miss this in school?

    Oh, I know. I learned to type on a manual typewriter, and the teacher required two taps of the space bar after each sentence!

    I promise to reform. Thanks.

    Michael

    http://writinginthedirt.wordpress.com/

  50. ronbrackin2 says:

    For Sandi and others who like meaty documentation, I refer you to item 2.9 in the bible of the book business, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, which states: “Like most publishers, Chicago advises leaving a single character space, not two spaces, between sentences and after colons used within a sentence [but see 14.121], and this recommendation applies to both the manuscript and the published work.”

    (14:121, for the insatiably curious, refers to volume and page numbers in multivolume works, which is not particularly relevant to this conversation. Nevertheless, for the purist who must know, it says, “If the volume number is immediately followed by a page number, the abbreviation vol. is omitted and a colon separates the volume number from the page number with no intervening space.”)

    Blessings!

  51. Darlene says:

    The two space after a sentence is from the old pica/elite typewriter days. Now that font characters carry their own “space” so to speak, most people space once. Some academic theory still supports spacing twice in academic arenas but always once in the publishing world.

  52. Of course only one. Who would ever suggest otherwise?

  53. Trisha Cupra says:

    Double spaces drive me mad.

    One space – you’re on a roll.
    Two spaces – a big black hole!

  54. Baby Pickel says:

    So interesting! I was always taught in school that it is two spaces…even through college!! Great blog post :D

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  56. timbarton says:

    I agree! I have always used one space but many people in my office use two. When we both work on different parts of hte same report we land up with half the report using one space and half with two. This is even worse than using two as its inconsistent!

    • Trisha Cupra says:

      That’s why you need to create a Style Guide for your office, so you at least have consistency. :-)

      Plus, you can sneakily do a find/replace on the finished report to remove double spaces.

      Even better, if you use Macs, covertly set up a Text Expander type of app on the offenders’ computers that converts double spaces to single spaces automatically as they type. ;-)

      (Kidding. Kinda.)

  57. humanitarikim says:

    Old habits die hard. I’ll try; that’s the best I can offer. :)

  58. i think you just ruined my childhood…tell me there is still a santa?

  59. I consider myself enlightened. I can’t promise that my thumbs will stop hitting that darn space bar twice, but at least now I will be doing so while fully aware of my error.

  60. Weird. I clearly remember being taught the double-tap in high school, but as I type today I only use one space. Somehow I evolved with the times and didn’t even know!

  61. katblogger says:

    Finally! My parents give me grief for turning in papers with a single space after the periods, and now I am finally vindicated.

  62. mamanne says:

    I am old and always put in two, and I think I will continue to do so because I am disagreeable like that! Ha! Funny, I’ve never really thought about it, and I must say I’ve had a good giggle here over how many of you are sincerely bothered by the look of a double space… hmmm. Personally, I think it looks all squished up when you don’t have that extra space, but I guess that’s the artistic side of me, huh?

  63. bagnidilucca says:

    I have always thought 2 spaces was correct. I have never really thought about it. I am surprised it is such a big issue with some people. I will try to be correct about it in the future, but I am not going to lose sleep over it.

  64. Jim Hagen says:

    It’s funny to see the amount of passion generated by a topic as prosaic as this! Especially when there is a big dialogue going on about civility in public discourse. Not that there has been anything particularly uncivil posted here, but it seems as if a lot of peoples’ first reaction is to voice their opinion and diss the opposing side.

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  66. iamsarahk says:

    Brilliant! I knew I was right! There are so many ‘double-spacers’ out there and they are so stubborn!
    Thank you!

  67. fireandair says:

    Two. Sorry. Force of habit, and will remain that way to the end of my days.

  68. adamodwyer1 says:

    I thought it was one space then I went to college to do journalism and they all insist on two spaces so now I’m confused, but can’t stop putting two spaces until I graduate.

  69. laavventura says:

    NO WAY??!! This is going to be a tough habit to break. I mean I’ve been a two spacer for well … over 20yrs. Ok. Thanks for being me back to Earth.

  70. Argh! My husband and my supervisor still type everyting with two spaces even though I’ve told them again and again it’s not necessary any longer. Maybe your post will convince them.

  71. How is it that I am just learning this now? The two spaces habit might be hard to break but I’ll do my best. Great post!

  72. seascribe says:

    This is a great relief as, despite pre-dating computers, I was never taught to type properly (that was for the less academic students in our school; how short-sighted was that?) so I never learned this habit. I once worked somewhere where this rule was given but we all ignored it and no one ever said anything. They were too busy fussing that we must use single inverted commas in place of speech marks for some obscure technical reason that I never fathomed.

  73. Sarah Elizabeth says:

    I cannot believe after being on the newspaper, the literary magazine, and typing up a zillion papers through high school and college, being continuously scolded by teachers and professors for my one space after a period, that they were wrong all along, and I’ve been victim to their stupidity. It is such a habit, that I’ve always yelled at everyone for not using two spaces. How could I have been so BLIND?! Thank you for correcting me. : )

  74. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this article. Very informative. I was trained in the two space after the period, too. This is going to be a bad habit to break though I did type this comment using one space after the period. I did search for this on google and found this on mla.org, “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.” http://www.mla.org/style_faq3

  75. sock monkey says:

    monkey generally use one space after period. it require less energy.

  76. Leah says:

    I have always used only one space. I hate it when people use two. Drives me crazy! Thanks for setting the record straight.

  77. Uh oh. I feel so old all of a sudden. Yikes. I don’t think I can change because I type so fast and without thinking and have been using two spaces for longer than most of you have been alive. Wow. I need to limit my blog reading to the senior center area I guess. This reminds me of the lady who always cut her Christmas roast in half and didn’t know why except that’s how her grandmother always did it. Turns out her grandmother had two very small ovens and a whole roast wouldn’t fit!

  78. That is a nice, concise explanation. I feel that a lot of “norms” are popping up with some older managers these days. Example, I have to highlight text in yellow and enlarge it to size 18 font. Can you please address ways to explain this as well? We need to revolt quickly and put these new habits down.

    They make me blue.

    Enjoyed,
    D

  79. Oh, and I usually use Courier too!!! Because it looks like a nice typewriter wrote it. When I worked in cutting edge high tech (someone had to be at the edge before all the 20 somethings were born) I used Courier and my work really stood out when mixed up with other company stuff. Kind of like a really lame trademark. :)

  80. Dr. J,

    First of all, great mind scramble. <—(double space due to habit, sorry!)I am enthusiastically interested in all that has to do with language in general: grammar, vocabulary, its affect on the minds of its speakers, the history of language and how it has evolved across the globe, sound and pronunciation, etc. Your expressed sentiments say to me, "Look! We are our language!!” An aspect that until now I had only thought about in passing, punctuation, has now been shot into my veins and now is changing my whole view on the matter.

    In fact, something that you may find intriguing is an idea to do away with commas, periods, ellipses, colons, and semicolons and replace them all with dashes of varying length(and now I can’t find website of the artist who introduced this idea to me). The longer the dash–the longer the pause——Not only would this create a sentence where both tone and speed can be easily interpreted by the reader—but so too are all worries and cares for punctuation thrown out the window!——The length of the pause is determined by the writer and not imposed by which one is grammatically correct—for they all are———anywhere.

    Just a thought—thanks to your thought-provoking article.

    Sincerely,

    Dorian Wacquez

  81. Wow, talk about having the wind knocked out of your sails. I used to be one of those two-spacers, who was firmly convinced that two spaces were right and one space was wrong. Why? Because that is how I had been taught. By many different people.

    I always thought we went to one space to accommodate the new technology of faxes, then computers, where space was at a premium. I did try to switch to keep up with modern times, but I was unhappy about it, feeling I was doing it “wrong.” Well, I’ve been told now, so there’s little excuse to cling to my outmoded ways. I’ll try again, but try telling my fingers that, when they have been adding two spaces after a period for decades :P

    P.S. Yes, I did go back through this response and take out the extra spaces.

    P.P.S. Congratulations on being “freshly pressed.”

    Sandra
    Wizards and Ogres and Elves…oh my!

  82. Now, if we can just STOP getting people to learn the difference between an acronym and an abbreviation …

  83. I mean START. I have a cold. I’m befuddled.

  84. Joe Storm says:

    I never recalled a time that I’ve done double space. That’s just odd. I probably did that in Middle School, but in High School I’ve never done that. It looks like a run on sentence!

  85. I had been a two-spacer until last year; I’m 30, which means that I’ve been making this mistake my entire life. Who knew?? We need more posts like yours to get the word out (but luckily, making switch to one-space was surprisingly easy).

  86. jule1 says:

    TWO! And I like how it looks.

  87. Thank you. I’m a writer and editor. I detest going through material and removing the extra spaces after periods. Where on earth did this ridiculous notion of two spaces come from?

  88. Nathan says:

    I used to put two spaces in my papers because a typing teacher in 9th grade (she was at least one hundred years old!) told us all that that was the correct thing to do. Going through college, I have learned to live with just one space. Thanks for the reminder!

  89. elisajoy says:

    I was taught to put two spaces after a period and now it is a terrible habit of mine. I guess I need to change this now, starting today. Thanks :) Great Post!

  90. pobept says:

    2 after a period! always 2!
    However most of my software now days ignores my second space command after a period. Guess mostly I do it out of habit.

  91. Artswebshow says:

    Lol, that’s a very good point.
    I will try my best to educate people on this matter :D

  92. Steven says:

    Well, this may have been introduced by a typographic necessity that no longer applies, but does it matter? It’s a convention that has become accepted formal practice. I was taught the two-space rule and that Pluto was a planet. Neither will be changing because someone wants a return to some imaginary “good ol’ days.’ Especially in a world where the essay has been reduced to a 140-word literary burp. Thank you for the truly interesting journalistic lesson, but I vote this becomes an interesting Trivial Pursuit answer and no more.

  93. Moe says:

    An old pet peeve of mine – it was so good to see that Slate article, I linked to it and posted. The comments thread was interesting – who knew how committed people were to their double spaces?

  94. Bret Rickert says:

    I was taught 2. I always use 2. Untill now. Thanks!

  95. Ash says:

    I love this article. I always hated the two-space rule and but, you’re right, it was tyranny. It looked awkward and, well, took up extra space each time. Such a waste. Thanks for ending this madness. Or at least giving a reason to.

  96. tiallarising says:

    That is amazing. I always thought that it was two spaces! thanks and congrats on FP!

    -Tia

    http://www.tiallarising.wordpress.com

  97. clefan0115 says:

    I write for my high school newspaper in the sports section, and the moderator of the newspaper always says to put 2 spaces, I have always disagreed with him and have tried to get away with (and many times succeeding) only putting one space after each period. I will definatly send him this article, and hopefully lay to rest the two space rule.

  98. Pie says:

    Why would anyone use Courier? And don’t even get me started on Comic Sans…

  99. Carl Vigilante says:

    Wow! I had no idea! I feel like I just found out the earth is round!

  100. Like many here, two spaces after a period was drilled into my head for three years in high school by a very strict typing teacher. However, when I began writing for magazines and newspapers in the late 1990’s, I learned these publications used only one. After 18 years of double-spacing, I quickly made the switch to single-spacing and never looked back. The thought never crosses my mind now; my fingers know what to do regardless of what my brains thinks.

    Great post. I recently had this discussion with a fellow writer who is working on her first manuscript. It’s surprising that many have not heard of the 0ne-space rule. And regardless of what WE prefer, editors want it their way. That means one space.

  101. harpersfarm says:

    I had no idea that two spaces were wrong. I was taught to use two and have always done so. But, like many other things, you don’t know you are doing something wrong until someone points it out. Thanks for the post, I now need to start retraining myself…

  102. I’ve had an editor ask me to put two spaces after my periods. Maybe it is a preference thing? This has been bugging me since I took English 101 in college and most of a class period was wasted with a heated discussion over whether is was proper to use on or two spaces. The professor said he didn’t care, by the way. Thanks for this post! It is great to have the answer cleared up (well, sort of). :)

  103. I was taught two spaces after a period and one space after a comma, I mean what’s the difference between the typeset of a period and comma? I don’t think I would ever get use to using just one. But I have noticed that a lot of software programs just auto-correct the double space. I was led to believe that the two space implies a longer pause after the period when reading and the one space after a comma was a shorter pause.

  104. TheBlackTwig says:

    This is enlightening! I’ve been using two spaces since my highschool typewriting class. I do edit papers here at work and sometimes I get irritated adding another space on their papers. I even complain why these people don’t know that a period should be followed by 2 sentences. Gotta hide now!!!
    Thanks for this post. :)

  105. Four years of high school English, four years of college, three years of law school, two years in the litigation department of large law firm, and two years writing opinions for judges, and this is the first I’ve heard that one-space is now the rule. This…sorry. This will be a tough one to break, but better late than never. Thank you for the universe-altering post.

  106. zelf says:

    Really interesting post! I have never used nor been taught to use more than one space, nor had I ever heard of people using more than one. But, I am interested in editing and publishing and this is certainly very helpful for me to know. Thanks for this post!

  107. Oh my word!! I went to university a long time ago (got a computer AFTER graduating) and always – until now – used two spaces. (I just did it – and went back.) I have four kids just out of university and have told them they should, too. They don’t listen, but here I thought I was right. (This is so hard to not do.) I’m trying to be a writer and blogger and have sent lots of manuscripts away. Thank you for correcting me. I know I can, I know I can…

  108. rtcrita says:

    Sorry, I still put two spaces after a period. It’s just how I was taught, and, yes, old habits are hard to break. However, I was taking a keyboarding class about 10 yrs. ago and for the tests, the instructor told us to only space once after a period because it automatically puts in the correct spacing. It was hard to remember to do after years of hitting that spacebar twice. But I did it for the testing — and then immediately went back to double-tapping the space bar again! Guess I’m just stubborn. :)

  109. What about the “en” and “em”? I will just quote someone who said something that makes a LOT of sense.

    “Having been trained as a typesetter many years ago (probably before you were born), you are correct that a single ‘space’ is used after a period. The difference though is the type of space used. Between words, an en space is used. Between sentences a single em space is used. The en space is half the size of an em space. Since the computers today use (for the most part) proportional sized letters, a standard space is an en space. In order to achieve the same type of spacing used traditionally, two spaces are needed after a period. Period.”

  110. zephyrliving says:

    A previously unrepentant double-spacer, I read the article you reference a few days back, and sighed. For several days, I verged on brink of conforming. It feels so very wrong both ways now, thank you very much. Grrr. : )

  111. ultraquack says:

    However many you want!

  112. Joanne says:

    Okay, okay, okay! I’ll try. I promise. But at 53, I was drilled from 9th grade on to hit the space bar twice after every. single. period. Typing this response without double spacing is killing me, and yes, I’ve had to backspace twice. But I will try. Thanks for the post!

  113. Asian Dyna says:

    Oh my God. Really? Now that’s a hard habit to break…
    Cheers!

  114. Gina Penn says:

    I always leave two spaces even though I know it’s wrong. We were punished if we didn’t, in school and I’m afraid if I try to change, my old typing teacher will hunt me down! Seriously, I don’t see what the big deal is.

  115. aroomofheroine says:

    I love two spaces! So what if single characters have their own flippin’ airbags?

  116. A very thoughtful post – and a common experience. I too received the double-space sentence via manual typewriters. It took me years to get out of the habit despite being first introduced to proportional fonts and a sort-of typesetting via a 512k Fat Mac and MacWrite in 1985.

    It seems to me, though, that the typewriter double-space issue was merely one of many instances of technology adapting the language. It didn’t stick. But other adaptations to new devices certainly have had their effects on typographic convention – witness the cellphone and texting. That, I fear, will indeed persist; and while language is an evolving beast, I do sometimes wonder where that evolution is going to take us (and no, I’m not going to type that in txt-speak to make the point).

    Matthew Wright

    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

  117. Shanno says:

    Unfortunately, I must admit that I am a two-spacer. I am very carefully trying to only use one in this comment, out of respect for you and the irritation you undergo because of the two-space people like me. I have known for a while that I’m supposed to only do one, but I just can’t force myself to do it. Apparently at work, no one cares either, because I write reports all day long and no one says a word. So I’ll probably keep up the two-space use just out of habit. Unless of course, someone at work catches wind and then, should I wish to keep receiving a paycheque, I shall force myself to change my ways.

  118. Pingback: My second New Year’s resolution: I will use one space after a period. « Phünlosophia

  119. trutherator says:

    Well, well. I was taught to double-space after sentences by an automatic program on a vintage IBM dedicated word processor, which they called an OS/6 (Office System 6). Go figure.

    That OS/6 handled double spaces at the end of lines “properly”, but I found that PC-based word processors expected just ONE space. Sometimes with two spaces they even added an extra line between paragraphs.

    Thanks for this clarification..

  120. The two space rule has boggled my mind for years. Thank you for clearing it up. Yet another thing I learned in high school that was incorrect!

  121. onemomtalking says:

    I learned to type in high school in 1976. Two spaces after a period. I typed that way for 30 years until, just a few years ago, I heard that two spaces was now taboo. Surely you can understand that at 90 wpm for 35 years – using two spaces is a very hard habit to change. Even now, typing this, I’ve had to delete one space after every sentence! Thank goodness I don’t do this for a living anymore!

  122. harmamae says:

    The one magazine I volunteered for, we had an afternoon-long discussion about whether to double-space after the periods or not. Before that, I had never heard of that rule in my life. Everyone in the office had a different opinion, but eventually we decided not to double space (thankfully correctly).

  123. Is this generation specific? Why was I was not ever taught this misinformation? I didn’t even know this two space thing was a thing at all. Where am I? Lucky me, I guess.

  124. fnkybee says:

    Wow..I had no clue it changed! I was taught with two and always -out of habit- do two spaces. Look I just did it and didn’t even realize it! Ok that one was just one! ;) I’m off to break the habit!
    Thanks for your post and congrats on being FP’d!

  125. Carrie says:

    Oh my! Thanks for the help. Now I will be laying in bed thinking about the countless letters, poems, bits of prose, and miscellaneous documents that I have put two spaces in after the period. From here on out I got it, ONLY ONE!

  126. pattyabr says:

    I appreciate your blog. Yes I was taught on manual and electric typewriters to two-space at the end of my sentence. It is time to let that go. The anxiety is high as I just went back in this reply to see if I one or two-spaced my sentences! I one-spaced it. Hurray!

  127. Deanna says:

    Who are you and what have you done to my beloved two spaces?

    I have always felt smug and content in my typing knowledge, but you have succeeded in KNOCKING MY SOCKS OFF. And who said there was nothing to be learned from blogging?

    I’m taking two Tylenols and hitting the sack, this is a lot to digest.

  128. What!? Next you are going to tell me that wheels are round. I feel like a complete nicompoop. I had no idea. And I just got done fixing my double spacing. This will be hard to break. Thanks for enlightnening me.

  129. Pingback: Have I really been wrong for over 25 years? « Because No One Asked

  130. simplyvictorious says:

    Thank you so much for this! I just emailed this post to a friend who ALWAYS puts two spaces and doesn’t believe that it’s incorrect.

    Would you answer another grammar question for me? When writing out a list, should there be a comma after the second-to-last item? I.e., which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?
    1) “My sister bought milk, eggs, and flour.”
    2) “My sister bought milk, eggs and flour.”

    It may seem silly, but not knowing has always bothered me! Thanks for any input you can provide :]

  131. Do anyone actually realise how much work is caused to typesetters with the two-space rule? I used to be an editor before I switched to the less profit-challenged line of being a printer. I took Pitman’s Typewriting in the 1970s and qualified at 70 wpm. Even then, the rule was two spaces on fixed-pitched founts (i.e. manual typewriters) but one space for proportional-pitch setups. How hard is that? Did we not learnt this in typewriting class?

    I’m also trained in handsetting (i.e. typesetting by hand using a compositor’s rule and type slugs): we didn’t use two character spaces because we use an em space instead (feeling knowledgeable now?). I’ve literally heard with my ears from people who unabashedly said, “Look, it’s two spaces there” while pointing to handset copy. It’s an em space slug, dummy.

    Today, since the time of the Linotron 202N electronic filmsetter, space between sentences can be microadjusted to give the sensation of slightly wider space. If we put in two actual spaces there, the line ends up busting like hell – and some typesetter has to slog it out by hand (usually overnight) to remove them and reset the copy. Please, you two-spacers don’t know what you’re talking about!

    You know, I’m not talking about stupid MS Word or anything like that, where you can put in as much spaces as you desire to your heart’s content. We’re talking about the highly inconsiderate habit of people who send copy to typesetting for professional purposes. You just get charged a lot of money for it (and we won’t mind billing you).

    Stop being so fatheaded about the rule. You’re not paying us that much! Heaven help us…

    (Just to obviate any misunderstanding, I type with two spaces automatically on a manual or an electric typewriter, one space on a compositor typewriter, one space in MS Word, one bloody space online, and one bleeding space for anything electronic. I will never, ever use just one space on a real typewriter, just as I will never, ever use two spaces on an electronic keyboard.)

  132. Pingback: I’m spacey no more! « Big Happy Nothing

  133. Ipodman says:

    Never used the two-space… So I guess I was brought up write :/

  134. Reminds me back at a time when I took a design module in school and my lecturer recommends using 2 spaces! *Laughs*

  135. StuckOutsideTheBox says:

    I didn’t know people did that. I’m only in high school and I never learned to put two spaces after a period – it just seems absurd. :) Glad they don’t teach it anymore.

  136. Reminds me back in the time when I took a design module elective back in polytechnic. Our lecturer for the module recommends 2 spaces after a full stop to my horror in an intro to typography lesson. I tried to raise the issue up that I felt he’s wrong only to get a terrible grade in return.

    I hope he see this 1 day :)

  137. Pingback: How Many Spaces Should You Put After a Period? (via The Western Tradition) | The Calculable

  138. Ashleigh says:

    I’m pretty surprised no one has mentioned APA style. As a psychology major, APA has obviously been drilled into my head. With the most recent changes in the 6th edition of the manual comes a return to double-spacing: “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.” (This was taken from the APA’s own website–apastyle.org–and no, I am not going to cite this with proper in-text citations :-P )

  139. I’ve been told, since grade school, that there should only be one space after a period. I didn’t even know that there was a debate over how many spaces there should be. I grew up in the 80’s. When was double-spacing taught?

    And congrats on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  140. I still can’t help using two spaces after the period. It’s a habit, I can’t break it. My thumb automatically hits the spacebar twice after each period. Every time.

    Although when I text, I catch it.. because each extra space is an extra character I’m wasting.

  141. ehliyet says:

    hmm,
    It shouldn’t be too tedious :D

  142. ichahassan says:

    Interesting, it’s actually a new thing for me; not the single space part, but actually the double one. All the teachers in my place always teach us to use one space after period. Again, it’s really interesting to know about the 2 spaces thingy, specially when there are still some people still doing that, like what you said, it’s like a zombie, always hang around.

  143. herschelian says:

    Firstly – congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, you’ve certainly stirred up a storm!
    I take on board the points about double spacing after a full stop being a left-over from the days of manual typing ( I’m South African so I don’t call it a ‘period’). However I find that many computer fonts have poorly adjusted kerning tables, so my view is that you have to choose one space versus two space depending on the font; look at the aesthetics of what you are writing, sometimes one space after a FS just looks mean and skimpy. As yet there cannot be a hard and fast rule. NB with this font one space is fine!

  144. bookmole says:

    Geez – the grammar police are out in force today! I was taught two spaces, I use one now (due to twitter – oh the wonders of modern technology!)

    Why this hatred of the two spaces? Really – fixing is easy if you must, but the ranting and raging – worse than the apostrophe police! The only thing absolutely essential is a full stop – don’t believe me, read some Joyce.

    Get a grip – there are so many worse things in life than two spaces after a period.

  145. M. Howalt says:

    Thanks! I didn’t actually know the reason for people doing it, so I really appreciated reading this!

  146. elvalentino says:

    And I always thought it was two spaces!!

    Damn was I wrong – http://difficultventure.wordpress.com

  147. lol! I don’t think I’ve encountered the ‘menace’, but thanks all the same for sharing. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    http://gbengaawomodu.wordpress.com

  148. Rhi says:

    At universities at the UK you have to hand essays in with two spaces after each full stop. My friends used to spend ages going through their essays to double check they hadn’t missed one! Why the hell do Unis make us do this!!

  149. Lucky says:

    Frankly, I never had a doubt until now that everyone the world over used one space after a period!

    You must have been really irritated with some work that you had to edit huh? ;-)

  150. Kelly Chien says:

    Actually the correct number of spaces to use is whatever makes you feel best about using them. If you like one space, then one space is correct. If you like two spaces then two spaces is correct. If you like 19 spaces then 19 spaces is correct. If you are going to be kept awake all night worrying because you use two spaces but are afraid that everyone will laugh at you because you think that they thing you should use one space, then one space is correct.

    What many people consistently fail to realize is that most of the rules of writing are optional suggestions rather than rules. The purpose of language is to communicate, not to get bogged down in minutiae. Yes, there are some guidelines that help your communication be more accepted by the general public, but in the end you should write in a way that best gets your meaning across to your audience. That is the only rule that matters.

  151. Stila Webb says:

    Wow, I never knew that. I have always put two spaces after a period, it’s something my teachers taught, but that my Dad really enforced. As you can see from this post, it’s a very ingrained habit. I guess I’ll have to curb it.

    Can we get over qwerty as well then? Because the keyboard arrangement was also set during the manual type era. They had several letter arrangements to choose from and Dvorak is MUCH faster and easier on the hands. They chose Qwerty to slow typists down because they’d jam the type writer. Why are we living under Qwerty tyranny in this age of computers? GO DVORAK! And yes, it can be done, I learned and only changed back when I worked at a call center and had to use qwerty. Windows has it as an option to.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard

  152. Bonnie says:

    As a graphic artist I can’t begin to count all the times I have need to ‘remove’ this extra space on supplied text. Sometimes I almost think it’s worth the effort to retype… then I think, nehhh. Great post, congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  153. Riax says:

    Great point and I never understood where this came from. I guess the reasons are similar in that as a kid I was always taught to indent a new paragraph. Now i just let the word processor and spell check do its thing

  154. ferzam says:

    technically, one space only. no need to exaggerate. poetically, you decide. but if you want to be clear about, always think of the end-users or readers – means observe the general rule – to whom you want to communicate or else you will fail to put across your message. but if you want to masturbate, go ahead. put million of spaces. noone cares. LOL.

  155. Paul says:

    Okay, point made, Dr. J. But lighten up, and have a little compassion for people who learned to type without thinking, making your dreaded two spaces a tough habit to break. That said, writers who submit work to you, and YOU, should simply consider the following easy fixes, and, as others have suggested here, focus on larger issues in life —

    Follow these easy directions in Microsoft Word:

    To place a single space after a period at the end of every sentence.
    • Go to Tools.
    • Click on Options.
    • Click on the Spelling and Grammar tab.
    • Click on Settings.
    • Under Require, on the third line, click to choose 1 space between sentences.
    • Now, even if you type two spaces, the computer changes it to a single space.

    To edit a document that already has two spaces between sentences.
    • Click on Edit.
    • Click on Replace.
    • In Find what, type period space space.
    • In Replace with, type period space.
    • Click Replace All. The software removes the double spaces.

    • These instructions won’t work for Office 2007 (MS Word 2007). Here’s how:

      To place a single space after a period at the end of every sentence.
      1. Make a deliberate spelling error, such as “theyre.”
      2. Go to REVIEW, then SPELLING & GRAMMAR. This will show you the correct spelling (they’re). It will also pop up a menu. At the bottom of this menu is OPTIONS. Click on that.
      3. This pops up another menu called WORD OPTIONS. Its default setting is PROOFING; that is the one you want.
      4. Go down to When Correcting Spelling & Grammar In Word section.
      5. Next to WRITING STYLE, click on the second box called SETTINGS. This will pop up another menu called GRAMMAR SETTINGS.
      6. In the first section, go down to the third item under REQUIRE.
      7. At Spaces Required Between Sentences, set it to 1 or 2 or “don’t check,” as you wish.
      8. Click OK and you’re done.

      To edit a document that already has two spaces between sentences.
      1. Go to the HOME tab.
      2. Go to the EDITING box at the top end.
      3. Click on Replace.
      4. In Find What, type period space space.
      5. In Replace With, type period space..
      6. Click Replace All. The software removes the double space.

      For some reason, when Microsoft brought out its Office 2007, it made it very different from all the previous versions. It’s very versatile, but sometimes it’s a pain in the butt to try and find out where everything is.

      Sandra Bell Kirchman
      Wizards and Ogres and Elves…oh my!

  156. Yusra says:

    Funnily enough, I was never taught to leave two spaces after a full-stop. But, the first assignment I had for uni called for two spaces after each sentence!

  157. er… “typing teacher?” (You DO KNOW it’s 2011…)

  158. ryoko861 says:

    O-M-G I just asked myself that the other day! I looked at the sentence I just typed and thought “Isn’t it two spaces after the period? I could have sworn Mr. S said two spaces after a period. But it looks too much. I’m leaving it at one.” and went on my merry way. I was taught on manual typewriters since I was 5. When IBM came out with the “Selectric” typewriter I was one happy camper. But I always used two spaces.

    Next question: Is it 4 spaces after the state to put the zip code?????

  159. Aligaeta says:

    How can I thank you enough? I never heard this. Actually, when looking over my kids H.S. papers I’d add that extra space between the period and the start of the next sentence for them to go back in and delete my spaces. Even here in this comment I continue to hit ‘space space, then delete, start.’ And I just did it again. It will be a difficult habit to break. I bet it shows the reader AGE. Most importantly those extra spaces in the cover letter attached to the resume. Thank you.

  160. writerdood says:

    I was taught to use two spaces and had to relearn. Editing the documents of others, I still frequently encounter two spaces. It’s easy enough to fix, but it’s an indicator of how the person was taught. That’s interesting, isn’t it? I don’t know how frequently this is taught in public schools anymore, but it should certainly be stopped if it’s still being taught. Typing class or “keyboarding” as it’s probably referred to now is the likely culprit. That’s where I encountered it. But who uses a typewriter anymore?

    I blogged about two spaces here: http://writerdood.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/death-of-the-indent/ where I discussed the Death of the Indent. Not that the indent is actually dying in print, but online it’s on its death bed. Two-spaces at the end of a sentence should be dead, but the indent? I rather like the indent and the tab, and I still think online forms should handle them.

  161. I’ve been working in a law firm for the last six months and have had to re-train myself to use two spaces after the period. The style for (most) legal documents is 2 spaces after the period. I hate it! I remember learning to do two spaces a long time ago but haven’t used it for years. Now I’m having to switch back…annoying!

  162. Lots of comment on this arcante topic! I took typesetting in college and I was told that the reason typists were taught to use two spaces between sentences was as a work-around for the typewriter’s inadequacies. Like Dr. J mentions, a typewriter is fixed-width, wheres handset, and machine set (and now computer-set) copy is variable-width.

    In typesetting a sentence is followed by an em-space (typically the width of the capital ‘M’), but en-spaces between words (typically the width of the lowercase ‘n’). So the typist would use to spaces to emulate this, although the result is wider than an em-space. That’s the reason it looks funny. It also creates ‘rivers’ in the text, something a typesetter tries to avoid.

    All the style manuals I know, like APA, MLM, Vancouver, etc. say use one-space. When the article is published, the journal’s copy-setter will insert the em-space automatically.

    Like Oliver says, use the find/replace feature to remove them as a last step before publication. If you do a lot of tracked changes with co-authors and editors double spaces creep unintentionally.

    On a similar note, the hyphen, en-dash, and em-dash are three, different characters and all are used in different manners. But again, the typewriter is limited and only has a hyphen, which is then misapplied as a poor substitute.

  163. Dr. J. said, “So please help to end the two-space tyranny! Send the typing teacher at your local schools this article!”

    Ahem! Your (our) age is showing. Typing is no longer taught in high school. They now teach “keyboarding.” :)

  164. Interesting post. I gave up the double space, especially on the internet, a long time ago.

  165. I used to have the habit of putting two spaces after a sentence, but it’s slowly worn off after seeing so many people put just one. Being a web designer, I’ve got to make sure the spaces between words are right, because if they’re not, the web page can end up looking disproportionate, and a little bit odd.
    I’ve always wondered where the tradition of putting two spaces came from, and now I know! I had seen MS Word give me a red squiggly line when I put two spaces in a long time ago, but for 5 years now, I have never ever put two spaces in a sentence out of habit. If you notice, there’s only one space after my periods now. And I AM a grammar NAZI, so if my grammar is wrong, or my punctuation (as in this case) is wrong, I will try and correct it immediately.
    Thanks for the enlightening, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser
    http://www.theeverydaymuser.wordpress.com

  166. Brandon says:

    sed ‘s/\. /\. /g’ *.txt

  167. Excellent post. Kudos for clearing that one up for me — something I have always wondered about, but had never seen a definitive answer on until now.

    Before I was a two spacer. Then recently I started leaning towards one, because I think it looks better. Now I know. Thank you.

  168. J says:

    This is a great post. I worked as a recuiter for a staffing agency and had to administer tying test on a PC. The older clients would almost always score low because they would always put two spaces and it would be counted as an error. The younger clients would hardly ever get this wrong being that most of us were taught to type on a computer lol. What I Wore: Bright Blue Balanced out with Heather Grey http://wp.me/p11rPI-8S http://www.copperetiquette.wordpress.com

  169. riseatriv says:

    This is very interesting.

    When I was taught typing at school in England, around 1957, the rule was very strict: one space after a comma, two spaces after colon or semi-colon – THREE after a period (“full stop” we called it.)

    In those good old days, type writers had non-proportional type (pica – 10 chrs per inch), so that would have made a space (or two, or three) clearly distinguishable. Then, so far I my memory serves, came “elite” type (12 chrs per inch) for a gentler look. IBM selectric typewriters introduced the non-proportional print – but that was not until the 1960s.

    That was the bane of many a typing pool! Try replacing an m in the document with an i – or vice versa!

    Computer word processors, I believe, change everything by not allowing more than one space at the end of a line. This was good when it wordwrapped, so no spaces at start of next line. It’s my opinion that this has caused the change in the keyboarding rules. I’m witht he camp that feels two spaces after a period is the way to go. More readable. Now I see I’m not alone in that feeling.

  170. lexiemom says:

    I learned to type on an actual typewriter. I was taught then, and it was expected throughout my higher educational years, to use two spaces after a period. I am a two-spacer & proud of it. I will continue as I always have, to use two spaces after a period, and you one-spacers are a pet peeve of mine!
    Congrats, by the way, on making FP.

  171. myra22 says:

    I was bamboozled! They told me it was the rule in high school therefore I am a two-spacer of the highest degree! Look at me! I’m doing it now! Ok, better. This is going to take some practice. Thanks for clearing that up for me! I will be a two space offender no more.

  172. ravensmarch says:

    This was on my mind yesterday as well, although I adopt a position in favour of the double-space. It’s not mere habit, but a conscious decision for clarity of where a sentence ends, whether it offends Mr. or Ms. Typographer (and yes, those contractions are there for a reason).

  173. Interesting post. As an avid user of typewriters (even for blog posts) I always put two spaces after a period. I do it by habit. The weird thing is that I learned to type on a computer in the mid-90’s and we were taught the two-space rule. I guess no one had realized the error yet.

  174. Connie T says:

    I learned to type on a typewriter. I was taught to use 2 spaces after a period. Then I went to work and typed everything on typewriters. I think the 2 spaces make things easier to read. I don’t write books, so I am not going to change. I type the way I was taught and I think 2 spaces look better. When computers came out, it took a long time for people to use them. A lot of legal documents still have to be typed on a typewriter.

    • I agree with you. I learnt to type on a typewriter (Siemens, Olympia, Olivetti) and it will always be two spaces for me using those clunkers. On anything else, it’s one space automatically for me.

  175. Christa says:

    Oh, great. Thanks a lot Dr. J. Now I can’t use my complete ignorance as an excuse for why my English essays aren’t quite long enough…!

  176. happycamper says:

    Thanks for sharing this article! Two spaces after a period has always been a huge pet peeve. Single spacers unite! :)

  177. Pingback: The itch is returning. « Blogging Back to the Middle

  178. ccgevry says:

    This has been a hard habit to break, but I’ve found publishers who won’t even accept a manuscript with two spaces after a period, so I’m trying real hard to make sure I only put in one space these days.

  179. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!! I was an English major in University, and it always drives me crazy when I see people commit this all-too common mistake!

    Great post! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!!

  180. grimaud50 says:

    I have never heard this. I graduated high school, earned a bachelors, and finished grad school without EVER being told told I was doing anything wrong. I guess I need to read up on this, but any chance it’s a style thing rather than a hard and fast rule?

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  182. catriona30 says:

    Will give the one space a whirl and try and break the habit.

  183. kmbjohnson says:

    I don’t know where I’ve been, because I am still using two spaces! Maybe this shows my age. Since I use haircolor to help hide those grays, I think I’ll use one space from now on to hide the hideous gap between sentences. Thank you!

  184. I am an instinctual two-spacer, but have been trying to correct it since I started submitting articles to magazines. It’s a hard habit to break, though! I am a fast typer, and don’t even think about the spaces – they just come out as two. This is taking some SERIOUS retraining. Thanks for this article.

  185. Ms. Beaker says:

    I was taught to use 2 spaces too, but I’ve always wondered if it was correct. Thanks!

  186. trioofaces says:

    It’ll be hard to lose that second space. Plus it really fills up some space. Especially if you use short sentences.

  187. Lea says:

    I thought this was a fairly recent change in MLA; maybe two revisions ago? Am I dreaming? I do agree- the necessity for it went away much sooner, but I thought the formatign rule– at least in my discipline, clung on for a while after.

  188. I was always taught to put 2 spaces after the period. However, I will attempt to change old habits starting now. Thanks for informing the blogosphere.

  189. worldtake says:

    Well,
    If two spaces after the period is in fact incorrect, it shouldn’t be. The extra space at the end of a sentence accentuates the ending of the sentence and makes the sentence a distinct entity for me. Regardless of my opinion, I have no choice but to continue double-spacing. Even if I wanted to change this behavior, I couldn’t. I have been typing most of my life — millions of words for 45 years — and my fingers will put that extra space in whether I want them to or not. I think this whole argument is anal in the extreme.

  190. justliss says:

    Wow. I have always done 2! Thank you!

  191. Pingback: I’m In Grammar Rehab « EduClaytion

  192. David Brick says:

    Though it appears this posting is rather aged, it still presents a timely question — but not a very authoritative answer! I thought I’d jot you a note regarding this controversy and give you some historical perspective. I was almost ready to cave on this after reading that the Chicago Manual of Style recommends only one space rather than two at the ends of sentences.

    But as I think you’ll see, the CMOS and MLA’s stylistic requirements were modified from the original typesetting standards for a very pragmatic reason: greed. No, really! Their styles evolved because newspapers and magazines were trying to maximize the amount of text they could lay out in a particular space — leaving more room for advertising. So they sacrificed readability and clarity for… money!

    These standards then crept into all the major journalism schools, of course, since if you wanted to write for any publication which depended on advertising, you had to follow their (relatively newly modified) styles.

    But those who learned to type on manual typewriters were taught to maintain readability and clarity as paramount. The following will explain what I mean, and is taken from an article in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing.

    “Until the 20th century, publishing houses and printers in many countries used additional space between sentences. There were exceptions to this traditional spacing method—some printers used spacing between sentences that was no wider than word spacing.[6] This was French spacing—a term synonymous with single-space sentence spacing until the late 20th century.[7] With the introduction of the typewriter in the late 19th century, typists used two spaces between sentences to mimic the style used by traditional typesetters.[8] While wide sentence spacing was phased out in the printing industry in the mid-twentieth century, the practice continued on typewriters[9] and later on computers.[10] Perhaps because of this, many modern sources now incorrectly[5] claim that wide spacing was created for the typewriter.[11]”

    ​[I didn't remove the reference numbers and they aren't linked here, but you can consult the Wikipedia article to view them for yourself.]

    ​The fact that single sentence spacing was referred to as “French spacing” indicates how foreign it was to most English people. As you may know, historically the English despise the French and vice versa. Though I have both British and French roots in my family, I tend to lean toward the English for most guidance.

    ​As the Wiki article discusses, the double (or at least, increased) spacing was used in typesetting to distinguish the periods at the ends ​of sentences from mid-sentence periods, such as those following initials or abbreviations. Many people find it difficult to read​ text w​ithout this differentiation​, especially when reading aloud.​ So there was, and still is, very sound reasoning for continuing the practice.

    Also, as we move further into the digital age, and we are printing less and less, the issue of saving space is becoming increasingly moot. In fact, as we are reading more and more text on computer screens, readability and clarity once again seem increasingly important.

    Bottom line? Obviously there isn’t One Standard to which we can all defer, which is unfortunate for those of us who crave black and white and detest gray. So if one is not writing for a for-profit publication, it falls, I’m afraid, to one’s personal preference (or that of one’s boss).

    I personally find French spacing to look cramped. Couple that with the fact that my automatic method of typing, hard-programmed into me over decades, is for my thumb to tap the space bar twice at the ends of sentences, and I doubt seriously I will ever change.

    Ciao for now

  193. David Brick says:

    So, in summation… I just have a question for all of you who so rapidly jumped on the bandwagon of self-righteous one-spacers and referred in your comments to two-spacing as a “mistake” or “error”: How does one distinguish between the period at the end of a sentence and the period following an initial or abbreviation (mid-sentence) if not by adding a second space?

  194. With regard to some of the comments about breaking or not breaking the habit of typing one vs. two spaces, I’m dubious as to how hard it could be to break/unbreak/maintain that habit. I type automatically with one space after for ANY proportional fount, and two spaces after for ANY fixed-pitched fount, regardless of the hardware (computer, typesetting machine, typewriter).

    I wrote a sidebar about this in 2012: http://thenakedlistener.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/fullstopspace/.

    For situations where the fullstop/period/fullpoint follows an initial or abbreviation in midsentence, just one space (not two). In other words, just carry on (e.g. The M.B.A. was completed). The general rule of thumb is to reduce space between individual words as much as possible unless there is some other purpose to put in extra intratextual space (which usually is for special typographical effect.

    Not to put too fine a point on things, and speaking as a financial printer, anyone who turns in copy with two character spaces after sentences will be charged extra. Simple as that. Of course, those who prefer two spaces can do whatever they feel like best for their blogs, etc. For professional purposes, I would not recommend the preference by reason of “avoidable cost control.”

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