How many spaces do you prefer after a period?


  • Rachel - 14 years ago

    Oh, by the way with respect to spelling between UK and US. It applies to grammar and punctuation as well. Just like the period always inside the quote at an end of a sentence -- no matter what rule is only true in the US. It has something to do with the old publishing methods or something, if anyone knows more, that would be interesting. Also, in the US the word cannot is always one word, never can not. However, in other parts of the English-speaking world it is two words. It is very difficult to go back and forth between the two styles (UK and US), but the two space rule is the rule in both places, but it seems the one space act took hold stronger and faster in the UK. That´s just my two-cents on that topic above.

    Like others, I won´t lose any sleep over this, however, Microsoft does not help the situation. Finally, that being said -- changes are bound to come and eventually the two spaces will die out, along with the word whom...

  • Rachel - 14 years ago

    I believe the single space after a period had two "points" of entry (sorry, I could not help myself on the pun). The first was to save space on published material. A proper book kept the spacing, but some of the novellas, in particular, found it saved pages in the end and thus, made it more cost-effective. The second hit when desk-top publishing hit. To make it easier, Microsoft set up Word to automatically replace two spaces with one space after a period. (Oh joy, grammar and punctuation are being dictated by Microsoft) I have always turned this feature off.

    Yes, those of us taught to type back in the day were forced to use two spaces. It´s not a snobby thing in any way, it´s the difference between those who were taught typing and those who are self-taught -- pretty much "all those younger people" as someone else mentioned above. Back when I learned (and it was not that long ago) someone who could type 90+ words per minute was an asset and had a huge marketable skill -- look at law firms. Lawyers were quite picky back in the 80s and even 90s, they would catch those typos (lack of 2 spaces after a period was a TYPO). Also, most of the typing tests on job applications count the lack of a second space as a typo.

    So, right or wrong in the mainstream, there is a rule still strictly adhered to in the professional world which mandates two spaces. By the way, having those errors on that typing test for a legal secretary job in New York City could be the difference between getting an annual salary of $75,000 and $30,000. So, is it worth it to give that second space a "second chance"? You decide.

    It has nothing to do with being lazy for most of the population though, as I said Microsoft "corrects" it automatically. So, Microsoft is telling folks -- you typed two, you could not have meant to do that because it is wrong so we are FIXING your mistake. If you do not understand why someone would listen to Microsoft on punctuation -- go ahead ask the "younger" folks out there two questions:

    1. Who owns a hard copy dictionary? (most will say they do not because there is a spell check and dictionary built in to most document programs today.

    Just for fun ask:

    2. What is a Thesaurus? (That one still cracks me up -- most have no clue whatsoever!) If they do know, they will tell you that it gives you synonyms for a word (but that´s another lift from Microsoft as most do not know the definition of that word either.

    Have a great day everyone. I will always be a supporter of the two!

  • Tori - 14 years ago

    Two spaces after a period that ends a sentence gives the eye and mind a rest or break that leads you into the new phase of the thought. It is there for people who think about what they are reading. It is a good thing, eh, Martha?

  • John Lloyd - 14 years ago

    Welp, one of the arbiters of style recently issued a recommendation that typists return to using two spaces after sentence-ending punctuation and colons. Over on Space Waste, we're questioning the recommendation by the publication folks of the American Psychological Association.

  • JF - 14 years ago

    First, double-spacing lets the reader distinguish between abbreviations and periods.
    Second, double-spacing gives the reader a visual cue when a sentence (i.e. a unit of thought) ends, making sentences easier to read - especially when the text is using many proper names or other capitalized terms.
    The argument against two spaces is generally made by typesetters and typographers. They treat their ability to turn sentences of all lengths and shapes into big, solid bricks of undifferentiated text as a badge of honor and good technique, despite the fact that such paragraphs are an impossible nightmare to read, and they abhor the appearance of horrible! unaesthetic! unsanitary! whitespace in the middle of their carefully justified, nearly unreadable bricks.
    Yes, two spaces looks funny if you're writing long paragraphs composed of hundreds of tiny "See Dick run. Run, Dick, run" sentences. However, if you are writing at a sixth-grade level or above, this should not be an issue.
    The fact that HTML munches whitespace (including, usually, carriage returns) does not justify discarding readability. One space is mostly just laziness: it says "I care about a few seconds of my time more than I care about my readers' comprehension."

  • kristen kuhns - 14 years ago

    professional typesetters use 1 space, and I know that typing teachers taught 2 spaces, and I know why. In professional printing, there exist what are generally well-designed typefaces with professionally tweaked kerning that should not need the extra space after a period, since the period itself is given a comfortable amount of space for the characters following it to fall in their place. For the old-fashioned typewriter, however, the text was in a fixed-width typeface (much like Courier on most Windows and Macintosh systems) that did not aid the user in his or her reading of the text. This drove the need to insert that extra space as a clue that the end of a sentence was coming (since people often see ahead of where they are reading, such cues are important).

  • Iago - 14 years ago

    Uh, I mean a visu'al a viaul astehcit" . . . .

  • Iago - 14 years ago

    "Whitespace is an important part of text." Absolutely. And even thou my second sentence is not a "sentence", it has a double space on either side of it; that said, I'm fairly certain that once I submit this comment, my post endpuncmarx space(s) will be reduced to a single letter-widthish space. But I'll keep double-spacing at the end of a sentence, even if it's not an actual sentence. It's hardwired into me as well, as some here have mentioned, but I totally agree with Nesman on this point. And yeah, for me it's also a visual a "visual aesthetic to help the eye flow over the page" (a nod to Jon), but I don't lose sleep over others' using single-spacing after endpuncmarx (much). Well, maybe a little.

  • Nesman - 14 years ago

    Whitespace is an important part of text. Proper use of whitespace makes it easier for your eyes to follow the text. "Wall of text" is the result when you don't use enough whitespace.

    Double space is the only way to go.

  • Knightmare - 14 years ago

    Ever since I was taught typing way back in elementary school, I've double spaced after the end of a sentence. My class had a typing nazi for an instructor and she'd always correct us on minute details, like the double space.

    Like many have said before, it seems this practice has been hard-wired into my typing skills.
    I also think that my spelling, although I am American, has been affected by the number of British documents and books I've read. It's just stuck to me, and my papers take hits for hit at my college.

  • shablog - 14 years ago

    I've always used double space. You're right, it just gets ingrained into your system after a while. However, I have come to know that teachers/professors often require students to use single-spaces because that is the way they think MLA says to.

    @Anon, I used double spaces. Let's see what it shows up as.

  • Anon - 14 years ago

    Maybe it's my browser, but it looks like all the above comments describing double spacing are actually using single spaces when they write...

  • AEPS - 14 years ago

    As a professional editor, I was at first annoyed by how many people (like half) "did not know" there were supposed to be 2 spaces. Fairly soon, I learned about the relaxing of the 2-space requirement by most publishers, pragmatism took over, and I reluctantly stopped "fixing" single spaces... but when I write my own text, double spacing just feels better darn it.

  • jo - 14 years ago

    I'm just finishing my last year of high school and in my whole student career only one teacher has instructed me to double space after a sentience (and he was the elementary school librarian). During those two years I was instructed to "double space" after a period it always confused me that when I was reading something there was only one space after the peroid but when I was typing there had to be two?!? Well after those two years when I ever handed anything in with two spaces after the period the teacher wrote a little inquiry note "Why do you do two spaces?" or either deducted i just stick with one space (but i do sort of fancy the two spaces maybe because it takes up more space.)

  • dk - 14 years ago

    doublespace=superior. i have run into instances where its lack of use makes things more confusing, like when there is an acronym with periods, you are not sure if it is the end of a sentence or just the last period of that acronym, and there is a capitalized noun that may just be proper. rare i know, but starting a new sentence should be celebrated with two spaces.

  • Patrick H. - 14 years ago

    This poll proves that the internet has a disproportionate amount of stupidity.


  • blacksun - 14 years ago

    Double space is how I was taught. When did single space come into play? It seems that only the younger, recently hired, seem to use it.

    While I notice the single space in email, I don't in books, newspapers and magazines. This may be the proportional spacing (justified paragraphs) or my lack of critical review of the text.

  • xrispy - 14 years ago

    I was taught to double-space in typing class and to single-space while studying typography in design school. I think it's pretty rare to see double-spacing in professionally set type.

  • Jon - 14 years ago

    Double-spacing is the only thing that makes sense. In tandem with the "thought closure" argument for, if you are reading a piece out loud, in order to give a full stop to a sentence mid-breath, the visual cue of having an obvious period is important. Having only one space could result in a mis-understanding by those who know it's supposed to be double-spaced, and therefore confuse a period with a comma, or believe a period has been typographically misrepresented and believe a comma should be used. Double-space after any full stop, too, like question-marks, and exclamation points. Single-space after commas and semi-colons, as it's intended to be part of the same sentence.

    The only time a period should not be double-spaced is when it's referring to a decimal place (which should be pronounced "point", or a URL (which should be pronounced "dot").

    Also, I'd like to see that the AP is referring to print materials, and not electronic materials. Because of automatic parsing, xml RSS feeds can automatically kern periods into space-and-a-half demarcation points.

    Which really leads us to the real argument: has auto-kerning destroyed typography? The origins of the double-space happened when type-setters relied on a visual aesthetic to help the eye flow over the page. Now, with flexible page-edges and auto-wrap/word-wrap, the type-setter's job is now font-face and font-size aesthetic, since most aren't terribly savvy about how to type-set the old-fashioned way.

    I'm sure if you read a newspaper or a magazine, much less a book, you'll see that the type-setter's standard is a double-space after each sentence.

  • Sean - 14 years ago

    Double spacing was used on typewriters with monospaced fonts (fixed width letters - meaning all the letters occupied the same horizontal space). Courier is an example.

    But computers mostly make use of proportioned fonts and enough width is allowed after a period and a space to make it visually acceptable. Two spaces often creates too much space.

    Two spaces used to be correct. One space is now correct. Unless you still use a typewriter.

  • Nick - 14 years ago

    I was taught double space in school, to the point of hammering on the keyboard twice without conscious effort. But once I hit college followed by work, single spacing was the preferred method and my poor, sad extra space just looked clunky and extravagant... RIP double space, you will be missed!

  • Tristan Robin - 14 years ago

    For those of us old enough to have taken "touch" typing in school, there is supposed to be two spaces after a period. If you didn't double space after a period, you flunked.

    However, this - like so many other (admittedly often useless) rules - has gone by the wayside in favor of sloppiness and brevity. On many many sites, double spaces are automatically converted to single spaces.

  • Anon - 14 years ago

    Single space is only good for text messaging via cell phone etc. Double space is what I learned as being correct all through school, so now I'm hard-wired.

  • Tadpole - 14 years ago

    I am firmly a fan of single spaces after periods. I see no real advantage of a double space after a period, it's an extra keystroke and wastes space. I find it irritating at best.

  • Paul - 14 years ago

    poiontless = pointless :)

  • Paul - 14 years ago

    I think it's pointless to argue which is better. @ Alisa, the point of a period is to tell you there's a new sentence. There is no need for two spaces.... But again, poiontless to argue which is better. I agree with the comments that it is most likely just a preference on what you were taught. I think it's silly to do two, but that's because I wasn't taught to, and I see it as redundant.

  • Alisa - 14 years ago

    I have always used double spacing. Not because of any other reason, but that that was what I was taught to do since forever. I don't do it to create more space on papers, it was something I was told to do by my English teachers all throughout my education. I don't really care whether people use one space or two. I prefer doing two because that is what naturally comes out of my hands when I'm typing. It was drilled into my brain that that was what I was supposed to do in keyboarding class in middle school. I personally feel that the double space separates sentences better and makes it more visible that you are about to read another sentence/thought. But I'm not going to get caught up in an argument about which is better, because honestly I think it's just a preference.

  • Mike - 14 years ago

    A double space after periods is excessive, wastes space and interrupts wordflow. Some thoughts on your reasons for double spacing:

    - closure: the end of a paragraph gives closure. The end of a sentence is not necessarily the end of a thought and therefore needs no finality. For drama start a new paragraph.

    - pretentious: if find double spacing more pretentious. Maybe it's because the books I read have single spaces after periods, so someone double spacing aims to look different. Pick up any book on your shelf with text that is not set to justify (go end to end on the page) and you'll see single spaces. Double spaces are used to pad.

    - efficient: your argument (that one less keystroke is not more efficient) is weak. When you change passwords it's hard to type the new password for about a week, then it becomes muscle memory just like the old one.


  • Kiku - 14 years ago

    I was never taught to doublespace after a sentence... until I moved South. Now I use it to take up a little extra space when I write papers.

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