Why You Should Never Use Two Spaces After a Period

Over at Slate, Farhad Manjoo has written a screed against "two-spacers." As a one-spacer, I'm inclined to agree with him:

"Who says two spaces is wrong?" they wanted to know. Typographers, that's who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences. That convention was not arrived at casually. James Felici, author of the The Complete Manual of Typography, points out that the early history of type is one of inconsistent spacing. Hundreds of years ago some typesetters would end sentences with a double space, others would use a single space, and a few renegades would use three or four spaces. Inconsistency reigned in all facets of written communication; there were few conventions regarding spelling, punctuation, character design, and ways to add emphasis to type. But as typesetting became more widespread, its practitioners began to adopt best practices. Felici writes that typesetters in Europe began to settle on a single space around the early 20th century. America followed soon after.

5 comments :: Why You Should Never Use Two Spaces After a Period

  1. For someone who has been drafting contracts for basically the last 7 years - this article ROCKED my world. I'm seriously shook.

  2. What, I should stop using two spaces just because some Eurotrash does it? That's your justification? That's no basis for a style sheet, I can tell you that. Supreme executive authority derives from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

  3. Jthomas, your comment made me LOLZ. Thanks.

  4. This has been bothering me for a while. I've been writing a lot for the past few years, and only recently while going to school the past year have I noticed that I'm still stuck on two spaces after a period whereas some papers for my teachers require only one. I was shocked!

    "Wasn't I taught it was two spaces?" I wanted to ask the question, but I felt too embarrassed.

    Just today I was thinking that perhaps I'll start using one space for my blog posts and future writings, what does it matter really? and it does look neater. But here I am using two spaces in your comment box.

    Is this also an ongoing argument that I'm missing? When did it change from two spaces to one?

  5. My type writing teacher (shows you know how old I am) taught us to use two spaces after a period, and now I'm a creature of habit. It's probably the last habit I have from the typewriter days that I have not broken and the most difficult.

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