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To space or not two space?

At the end of your sentences, do you hit the space bar once or twice? A debate is raging about this. (Type something now to see what you’re in the habit of doing.)

Which is correct?
You should use a single space after a period, question mark or exclamation mark.

“Sacrilege! I was taught to use two spaces!”
Did you learn to type on a typewriter? If so, you may have been told to insert two spaces at the end of sentences to ensure enough space.

Most typewriters had non-proportional (“monospace”) fonts. With these, thin letters, like “i”, took up the same space as fat ones, such as “m”, as you can see with this Courier font:

However, computers now use “proportional” fonts. With these, space for thin letters is slim, compared to space for fat ones, as you can see with this Times font:

Why should you care?

With proportional fonts, the computer adds just the right amount of space after each sentence. Double spacing adds distracting gaps that make your writing look choppy and unprofessional.

Mainstream publishing has used one space between sentences for decades. It’s also backed by the Australian Government Style Manual, the MLA, APA, and The Chicago Manual of Style. I say go with the experts.

Using double spacing is like using Liquid Paper on your screen to correct errors. Times have changed! (Still don’t believe me?).

Have your say…
…below! Are you a “space” cadet? Do you disagree with the above? Go on – make your mark!

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2 thoughts on “To space or not two space?”

  1. I believe that two spaces is the correct way to go. I understood the reason for the two spacing versus one spacing, was a visual punctuation one. That is, the readers will pause longer with the two spaces, i.e. after the end of a sentence, than the one space, ie after a comma, because the end of a sentence should be the end of the thought. Next you will be saying there should only be one line space between paragraphs. The reason you have two line spaces between paragraphs is for exactly the same reason.

  2. Exception: When reviewing contracts and proposals I find myself, on a regular basis having to re-read a sentence for clarification of the ending. This happens most frequently when a sentence ends in an abbreviation, (which is common in contracts and proposals) or when a sentence ends with letters and numbers followed by a sentence which starts with letters and numbers.
    Ex: …by Grammar, Inc. I would like to state my next issue…
    Ex: …1.20. 3.20…
    It is my suspicion that if grammarians were reviewing lengthy contracts and proposals on a regular basis, they might change their view on this issue.
    Stuck in my head is a request I received from a college professor to add an extra space between sentences for ease of review of a paper.
    Let’s put this issue to bed for good, call a truce and say either 1 or 2 spaces is accurate. I find no distraction with 2 spaces. You say either, I say either; they are both correct. For your records, I am from the typewriter era.

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