One Or Two Spaces After A Period

Style And Language Guides

Settling The Debate: One or Two Spaces After a Period

Style guides

Early style guides for typesetting used a wider space between sentences than between words”traditional spacing”, as shown in the illustration to the right. During the 20th century, style guides commonly mandated two spaces between sentences for typewritten manuscripts, which were used prior to professionally typesetting the work. As computer desktop publishing became commonplace, typewritten manuscripts became less relevant and most style guides stopped making distinctions between manuscripts and final typeset products. In the same period, style guides began changing their guidance on sentence spacing. The 1969 edition of the Chicago Manual of Style used em spaces between sentences in its text by the 2003 edition it had changed to single sentence spacing for both manuscript and print. By the 1980s, the United Kingdom’s Hart’s Rules had shifted to single sentence spacing. Other style guides followed suit in the 1990s. Soon after the beginning of the 21st century, the majority of style guides had changed to indicate that only one word space was proper between sentences.

Language guides

One Space After A Period Is Plenty

Alright so you might be guilty of what Im about to call out. As with most things in society, norms change and you can almost guarantee that there will be pushback. Grammar is no different. But, its time that the truth is set free: You shouldnt be putting two spaces after a period.

As a graphic designer and typographer, I was always taught NOT to put two spaces after a period. Its unnecessary and, frankly, it doesnt look good. No, this isnt simply a matter of opinion. Before we get into the nitty gritty of it, lets talk about why two spaces was ever a common practice in the first place.

Years Back I Was Taught That Two Spaces Should Follow A Period In A Paragraph I Was Working On A Document And Noticed The Author Used Both One Space And Two Spaces Between Sentences I Changed All Of The Occurrences To Two Spaces But In Discussions With Others I Was Told A Single Space Is Now The New Normwhich One Is Correct One Or Two Spaces In Business Writing

I have a clear and easy answer for this question: One space is correct.

Microsoft has settled the great space debate, and sided with everyone who believes one space after a period is correct, not two. The software giant has started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period as an error, and to offer a correction to one space. Microsoft recently started testing this change with the desktop version of Word, offering suggestions through the Editor capabilities of the app.

Additionally, the American Psychological Associations Publication Manual, after decades of recommending two spaces changed their recommendation to one space in its most recent update in October 2019.

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Its The Great Generational Debate

There was a time when every period, question mark, or exclamation point was followed by two spaces. These days, depending on what youre reading, you can find either one or two spaces between the end of one sentence and the beginning of another.

The use of single vs. double-spacing after periods has become a great generational debate, with everyone from Gen X on up falling predominantly onto Team Double Space, while Millennials and Gen Z fight on the side of the single space.

I single space after punctuation.#PleaseAWomanIn5Words

So, which side of the generational divide is in the right?

Effects On Readability And Legibility

Should You Type One Space or Two After a Period? The ...

Claims abound regarding the legibility and readability of the single and double sentence spacing methodsby proponents on both sides. Supporters of single spacing assert that familiarity with the current standard in books, magazines, and the Web enhances readability, that double spacing looks strange in text using proportional fonts, and that the “rivers” and “holes” caused by double spacing impair readability. Proponents of double sentence spacing state that the extra space between sentences enhances readability by providing clearer breaks between sentences and making text appear more legible, particularly noting the very small visual difference between a dot and a comma.

However, typographic opinions are typically anecdotal with no basis in evidence. “Opinions are not always safe guides to legibility of print”, and when direct studies are conducted, anecdotal opinionseven those of expertscan turn out to be false. Text that seems legible may be shown to actually impair reading effectiveness when subjected to scientific study.

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A Jump To The Present Day

Now that Im a copyeditor, Im appropriately horrified when I see a manuscript or query letter with two spaces after each sentence. A quick wave of smelling salts under my nose, though, and a visit to my trusty Find & Replace, and Im as good as gold.

For all those die-hards who insist that two spaces is still the way to go, allow me to gently reiterate that youre wrong. Im sorry to break it to you, but if you were here with me, Id include chocolate with the news, give you a there, there pat on the shoulder, and say it a little louder for emphasis.

Should You Use One Or Two Spaces After A Period

Which side are you on?

You sit down to compose an email. You write one sentence, and appropriately end it with a period. What happens next is, apparently, a subject of hot debate.

Do you put one or two spaces after the period before starting your next sentence? People belong to one camp or the other, and both camps are very passionate about their stances.

It turns out that whether you use one space or two may depend upon your age. People began inserting two spaces after the period during the era of the typewriter. When typing on a typewriter, each character took up the same amount of space on the page. Having an extra space after the period was helpful in delineating the start of a new sentence.

With the days of typewriters long gone, however, that logic no longer applies. Still, some people are standing by their assertion that two spaces is preferable. Take Yale sociologist Nicholas A. Christakis, for example. He recently tweeted that his habit of using two spaces has been vindicated by science:

Hurray! Science vindicates my longstanding practice, learned at age 12, of using TWO SPACES after periods in text. NOT ONE SPACE. Text is easier to read that way. Of course, on twitter, I use one space, given 280 characters. Will arm-wrestle

Nicholas A. Christakis

Christakis shared a link to a study that analyzed the effect of spacing following periods on reading comprehension.

What do you think? Do you have a spacing preference?

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Microsoft Word: Two Spaces After Period Rip

Using two spaces after a period comes from the old days of using a physical typewriter. Only one space after a period is modern and proper.

Those of a certain age learned how to type using a physical typewriter. To those folks, there have always been two spaces after a period. With typewriters long gone, new generations have grown up without needing those two spaces. Despite this, Microsoft Word has long accepted both style choices. Soon, that will no longer be the case.

This year, Microsoft promises to choose a side finally. A future Microsoft Word software update will default to single space after each period, while two spaces will be met with blue squiggly lines. In other words, two spacebar pushes will now be considered a mistake.

How Many Spaces Should Come After A Period/full Stop

Is it 1 or 2 spaces after a period – The Office Life

In the past or at least, when I was in elementary school periods/full stops were followed by two spaces. Lately, it’s become more and more common to see just one space. In the modern world, should we still use two spaces between sentences, or is just one okay? Does it depend on the situation? Or are both acceptable, with the choice simply coming down to personal preference?

  • 92On the web, if you want two spaces after periods, you need to insert non-breaking space characters or entities . Since this is such an effort, one space after periods has become the de facto standard on the web. You can type in as many spaces as you please in the HTML, but it will only ever display as a single space.Sep 4 ’10 at 21:21
  • 4@Yossi: I take issue with “the fact that people preferred 2 spaces over 1 during monospaced fonts seems to indicate that a larger space is more visually appealing”. It’s not a universal “fact”, quite the opposite, there’s a some missing before the people. Preferring two spaces over one is called English spacing for a reason. You could just as boldly state the exact opposite thing, and you would be just as correct : it’s a fact that people preferred one space over two during monospaced fonts .Nov 3 ’10 at 14:41
  • 6

My summary would be something like the following:

Both are still acceptable, though the two-space style has been falling out of favor with the advent of variable-width fonts.

From Common Errors:

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How To Double Space In Word Without That Judgy Squiggle

It looks like Editor flags a double space as a style issue, part of its premium Refinements feature, which makes suggestions beyond the spelling and grammar were used to. Youll only see the suggestion if you have a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Determined double spacers, youre not doomed to a life of judgment under the watchful eye of Editor. You can adjust your preferences so it wont flag your double spaces.

The easiest way is to click on the offending space in your document after Editor underlines it and select Always Ignore.

Or you can be proactive and dig into Words settings.

Once your version of Word is updated to include Editor, youll see the blue-pencil Editor icon at the top of the window when youre working on a document. To adjust your proofing settings, according to PCWorld:

  • Scroll down to a section that says Choose the checks Editor will perform for Grammar and Refinements. Select the Settings button next to it.
  • In the window that pops up, scroll down to the Punctuation Conventions section, and select dont check next to Space Between Sentences.
  • Spacing Out: Use One Space Or Two Spaces After A Period

    Is it better to use one space or two spaces after a period? Find the definitive answer for one of the most divisive topics this side of the Oxford comma with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors.

    We’re back into the flow of school at the Brewer mansion, which means we’re cutting out Box Tops, going to “spirit” nights at various local food spots, and rushing to get ready for school each morning. It also means I’m helping out with homework and getting frustrated with how some things have changed and how others have notand yes, I’m obviously speaking about the spacing after periods in papers.

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    One Or Two Spaces After A Period

    Among the most acrimonious writing-related debates one finds on language blogs is one sparked by the innocuous question, Do you put one or two spaces after a period?

    Wriing in Slate, Farhad Manjoo borders on the abusive:

    Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong. And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste.

    The two-spacers can be just as aggressive:

    As a US Marine, I know that whats right is right and you are wrong . I declare it once and for all aesthetically more appealing to have two spaces after a period. If you refuse to alter your bullheadedness, I will petition the commandant to allow me to take one Marine detail toimpose my rule. Thou shalt place two spaces after a period. Period. Semper Fidelis.from the CMOS forum

    The one-space monomyth suggests that in some utopian past before the invention of the typewriter, typographers knew better than to leave that ugly extra space between sentences.

    According to the myth, because the keys on those clunky typewriters made all letters take up the same amount of space the typist needed to leave two spaces between sentences so that readers could see where one sentence ended and the other began. The implication is that before the typewriter, typographers had put less space between sentences.

    How To Replace Two Spaces With One Space

    To Space or Not to Space: One or Two Spaces After a Period ...

    Old habits can be difficult to break, of course, but with focus one space will become your natural impulse. What if you find it hard to use one space after many years of adding two spaces after a full stop or colon?

    Use the “Find and Replace” option in your word processor to remove the extra space. In more recent versions of Word, look for the Replace in the Home ribbon at the top of the screen.

    In the Find what tab, type period followed by two empty spaces . In the Replace with tab type period followed by one empty space.

    If you have used double space with other punctuation marks make sure to replace them as well.

    Or, use good grammar and spell-check tools such as Grammarly, which will flag the incorrect two spaces for you.

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    One Space Between Each Sentence They Saidscience Just Proved Them Wrong

    In the beginning, the rules of the space bar were simple. Two spaces after each period. Every time. Easy.

    That made sense in the age of the typewriter. Letters of uniform width looked cramped without extra space after the period. Typists learned not to do it.

    But then, at the end of the 20th century, the typewriter gave way to the word processor, and the computer, and modern variable-width fonts. And the world divided.

    Some insisted on keeping the two-space rule. They couldn’t get used to seeing just one space after a period. It simply looked wrong.

    Some said this was blasphemy. The designers of modern fonts had built the perfect amount of spacing, they said. Anything more than a single space between sentences was too much.

    And so the rules of typography fell into chaos. Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong, Farhad Manjoo wrote in Slate in 2011. You can have my double space when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, Megan McArdle wrote in the Atlantic the same year.

    This schism has actually existed throughout most of typed history, the writer and type enthusiast James Felici once observed .

    And that’s just English. Somewrittenlanguageshavenospacesatall and o thers re quire a space be tween ev e ry syl la ble.

    Ob viously, thereneed to be standards. Unless you’re doing avant – garde po e try, or something , you can’tjustspacew ords ho w e v e r y o u want. That would be insanity. Or at least,


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