How Many Spaces After a Period?

It’s been an issue of great debate in both my professional and personal life: how many spaces should you put after a period?

Some people prefer two spaces, some prefer one. You can read all sorts of background and history and opinions on this.

But it comes down to this: two spaces is a relic from the days of typewriters. It’s no longer necessary in today’s world of word processors and can actually muck things up. It doesn’t even transfer to the Internet–HTML actually ignores more than one space in a row. You have to force HTML to display two spaces by entering code for a non-breaking space, and that’s way too much work.

So please. Stop with the two spaces. I know you learned on a typewriter (like me) and a teacher hammered it into habit. But that doesn’t make it right. At the very least stop insisting other people follow your out-moded style. It’s about as effective as using whiteout to fix mistakes on your screen.

Thanks. I feel better now.

11 thoughts on “How Many Spaces After a Period?”

  1. Jaime and I have had this same argument before with one of our friends who is a teacher. As I understand it, the double-space is MLA style, so it’s still used in the educational sphere. Thankfully, Jaime and I were both taught AP style in college and had it drilled in to the point where a double-space looks as wrong as a spelling error.

  2. Amen! Preach it brother!

    I think I stopped using double spaces around the same time I stopped using cursive. It’s a totally useless rule, and as you pointed out, it won’t even work on the web, where I do most of my reading and writing.

  3. As a person who switches between academic & web spheres, I always mess it up. I type so fast that I throw in 2 sometimes when I should have 1, and vice versa. My friend is a writer and when we work on projects together, she’s always reaming my extra spaces. It’s a tough habit to break. I just realized I even typed this entry with two spaces between each sentence (not that you’d see it). Gah!

  4. I don’t mind so much when people don’t care. It’s the people who insist on doing it the two-spaces way that drive me nuts.

  5. While discussing this during an informal editing meeting the other day, one of my colleagues notified me that “double-spacing is the mark of good breeding and higher education.” That settled the debate for me. Her comment was sufficiently snarky to make me value my public school education even more. If double-spacing puts me in her camp, I’m sticking with the single.

  6. double space writing is the proper MLA format. 2 spaces after a period and one after a comma. it makes your report look better and professional

  7. “double-spacing is the mark of good breeding and higher education.” ???

    I am so glad I don’t double space. :)

  8. Nope. Double spacing is NOT current MLA style. The current MLA guideline says:

    “Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition, most publishers’ guidelines for preparing a manuscript on disk ask authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print.

    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.”

  9. Wow i thought only me and my girlfriend had this debate. She has never heard of the 2 spaces, I grew up with it since elementary school, and I had never heard of only putting one after a period. I dont know about the better breed of education thing, but I will stick to the two spaces anyways. It makes me think I’m using that much more space. Yep I’m that lazy, every little bit counts.

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