The Double-Space Debate

Double Space Debate

So, what’s your opinion? A, B, or C?

[A]   Two spaces after a period is the proper way to set type.

[B]   With the white space above the point, one space after a period is all that’s needed.

[C]   The physical space after a period should be thinner to compensate for the optical whiteness above the period.

Double-Space Debate voting results
Voting Results

Posted by on July 14, 2005
Filed Under Typography | 99 Comments

  • Shannon

    As the previous poster mentioned, the answer to this question is as close as the nearest book or magazine. Single spacing is the preferred method, unless you are using a mono-spaced typewriter.

    Double spaces after periods create annoying rivers in a page of text… go look at your old high school term papers and you’ll see what I mean. Proportional fonts adjust the space size based on the letters and punctuation involved in order to achieve the best readability possible.

    Yes, your typing teacher taught you a different standard, but it’s likely that person also taught you to use white-out to correct typing errors. Unless you have a very messy monitor, you have managed to discard that necessity of the past.… Embrace the future!

  • Roy

    I don’t know what proportional fonts have to do with it. Microsoft Word seems to put extra space in when I put in a double space after a period. The U.S. Supreme Court seems to put extra space after the period. If you copy the text from their pdf files, however, you’ll find a single space — but, in some cases no space (e.g., at the end of a line)! This just shows that “typesetting” is different from typewriting. I think most of us are still typing and not typesetting. I think it boils down to this: if you can’t name the Beatles, don’t know who Spiro Agnew was, or are not sure what a Selectric is, then you’ll pretty much do whatever you want without regard to any conventions. Period. The End.

  • Roy

    Mygoodness!Yourhtmlisbrutal.Ihardcodedthedoubleperiod inattheendofeachsentenceandthecomputer obliteratedmyeffortsbycollapsing it,asmanyofyousaiditwould.Iagree,spacesaregreatlyoverrated.


  • Susan

    Many of us learned long ago to use double spacing. That’s when we had typewriters and courier type. As technology advanced, typing evolved into word processing. The world now uses proportional fonts, and we don’t need two spaces to separate sentences any more. WordPerfect has a built-in option that changes two spaces to one space after a period for all the old dogs that can’t learn new tricks. Putting in two spaces with justification also creates havoc in stretching type from margin to margin and leaves big gaps. ONE SPACE AFTER A PERIOD is now the norm, conforms to current word processing technology, looks better, takes less time, uses less paper, and is preferred by the majority of those who create documents, including professional writers and web designers. I’ve worked in the legal field for over 30 years and we use ONE SPACE after punctuation. Anyone who holds out for two spaces is living in the past but if it pleases them, where’s the harm?

  • SheetWise

    While typewriters are history, they enjoyed several years of proportionally spaced fonts before they disappeared. They always lacked the “em”, “en”, and “thin” space, and never had the processing power to do both character spacing and word spacing. Typewritten copy was at best just amateur typography, and the double space was the best substitute. Internet text is the new “amateur” type, and I notice the original post made an effort to not concatenate two sentences and influence the debate (the reality being that the OP is the only one who could have double-spaced their opinion). Internet text is limited in formatting just as the typewriter was.

    Our new non-Internet tools DO have the power. If you’re working in a modern word processor, you can control character and word spacing. You can find the proper ratios for the line length — it will be different between a newspaper or magazine column and a book or letter. In this transition we’ve certainly improved the output of the amateurs — but we’ve also eliminated the professional typographers. Today, everyone is an expert. And the quality of type shows it.

    Double space between sentences in Word. Learn to select fonts and adjust the document settings. Internet text doesn’t really matter, that’s why they call it a markup language.

  • Judy

    I can’t beleive this. We were taught hard and fast rules when I went to school. If you can’t count on 2 spaces after a period then what can you count on?

  • Hermonator

    While I agree that in many cases (and assuming no Mr. or Ms. or other abbrev. exists) the visual of single-spacing after a period is often better looking, it is simply an excuse for poor punctuation online in the attempt to lessen the # of characters used on web pages and in forms. As usual, pretty beats correct in our modern world. My following position is only defended by an “A” in all my grammar classes.


    The REAL POINT here, which the single-space argument can NEVER seem to address properly, is that THE PERIOD HAS MID and END SENTENCE USES! It is not just a sentence ender! Those other mid-sentence uses cause a natural requirement of a second space for end of sentence functionality. Without a new sentence ending punctuation mark, this is an inevitable need of punctuation in a sentence.

    “I went to dinner with Mr. Jones. Mrs. Johnson was there also. She works at U.C.L.A. on Saturdays.”

    “I went to dinner with Mr. Jones. Mrs. Johnson was there also. She works at U.C.L.A. on Sat. afternoons.”

    The first paragraph is easier to follow when reading and eliminates any confusion about where the sentence ends. The only cost for this is the “controversial” extra space on a web page. Another alternative might be to eliminate the space in situations such as Mr.Jones, but that still leaves other abbrev. issues as problems. A new abbrev/ punctuation mark (/) is the only other answer I can come up with.

    Again, while there are ways to get around this in online writing (Mister Jones, Misses Johnson, UCLA, Saturday, SAT), they do not defend single-spacing sentence endings as correct. The above solutions appear as odd on a web page as extra spaces!

    The second space at the end of a sentence serves a specific and defendable position and works for ANY punctuation that ends a sentence (period, question mark, exclamation. The use of a single-space comes not from a proper argument against the double-space position, but from a simple desire to pretty up text pages and limit text in a computer environment. Some would also argue it is just the general laziness of our modern society.

    Give me a solid and consistent work around for the normal grammatical situations involving common abbreviations and I will consider changing my position. But I have yet to hear such an argument from all the modern internet typists and punctuation experts!

    Q.E.D. ;-)

  • Dan B

    One space. We were all taught to use 2 spaces because of fixed width fonts on typewriters (remember those?). My mother was a secretary and swears by them. However, most fonts used on computers are spaced automatically by the software, therefore 2 spaces look (and are) unnecessary.

    Also, Hermonator – periods (a ‘full stop’ to me) are no longer recommended for mid sentence … it is now: eg, ie, Mr, UCLA, Sat etc etc etc … thereby your argument doesn’t hold any more. Sorry. Nothing to do with laziness either …

    I am a graphic designer for a magazine so spend more time than I’d like removing the extra spaces from copy I receive.

    Isn’t it amazing how many people are passionate about empty spaces at the end of sentences?

  • Jeffrey Blacketter

    A sentence should end with 2 spaces in order to maintain a fluid read. <&nbsp;>It helps to define the sentence structure, and enhances the abillity to read ahead. <&nbsp;>The practice of using a single space is the product of the difficulties encountered with modern equipment (i.e. computers, internet). <&nbsp;>I’ll stick with the proper double space myself, it just feels right!

  • Jeffrey Blacketter

    Well, I had to try.

  • Marc

    There a number of web pages that express that dyslexics prefer two spaces after a full stop. Nothing sites actual research, however. What is particularly surprising is how void the discussion is on accessibility. Thus, here is an attempt to get it all started!

  • Peter Pawinski

    Single space all the way. I find it odd that people say two spaces is more readable. It’s not. To me, the extra space breaks up the rhythm of the paragraph and its visual flow. For the record, I was taught to double space in high school, but once I got to word processing programs, single spaces looked more natural to me, and it turns out that that’s the usual typographic convention.

    Down with double spacing for proportional fonts!

  • Kathleen

    Fascinating post. I didn’t know there were so many people who were as fascinated with the nuances of grammar and whatnot as I am!

    I, too, was taught to place two spaces at the end of sentences. That was in 8th grade typing class in the mid-80s in which we used old-fashioned, non-electric (let alone electronic!) typewriters. (As an aside, we were not allowed to use white-out. We had special erasers to erase the ink but invariable torn holes in the paper. My first electronic typewriter (in 1988) had special ink and another cartridge that would lift the ink off the page when you pressed the correction key.)

    But I digress. Back to the space debate!

    It was only a couple of years ago I learned the rules had changed. And as many of you note, it’s a hard habit to break. But I assure you, it CAN be broken. Depending on how much typing you do, it shouldn’t take more than a month — two at most.

    I’m not a graphics designer, typesetter, or programmer — just your average Word user. Before I finalized a document, I would do a search for double spaces and replace them with single spaces as necessary (just be careful about doing a global find and replace if there are places where two spaces are needed for some reason).

  • Julio McTavish

    Typing is using a tool.

    Typesetting is creating visual art.

    Artistic merit allows bends in “the rules” for the sake of art.

    Although tools can be made into art, and art can be used as a tool, they are two seperate things.

    If you type the same way everyplace it will work almost perfect regardless of where or how you are typing it. Monospace, polyspaced, auto-adjusting fonts, paper, screen, billboard, whatever you choose.

    If you want to make it ‘look good’ you will have to bend those rules depending on the medium/media.

    The WWW and HTML are not the end all and be all of humankinds’ accomplishments. In ‘the future’ it will all change again, and if you want to make sure it works “Hello?<space><space>Are you out there?” helps to ensure the other end sees it in an intended way, regardless of how they are viewing it.

    They will know right away that you spent the time to learn how to type, and aren’t just a lazy kid.

    Perhaps “Hi R U there? POS„ gg” is the future, so let’s all just accept it now. :)

  • anon

    Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

    For the record– I doublespace and had I been asked for an opinion by someone, I would say doublespace all the way. After seeing all of the responses, however, I understand how the single spacers have made their case. Furthermore, I appreciate the irony of those doublespacers who try so hard to persuasively make their case not notice that they are undone by the posted comment. Clearly one must keep an open mind and neither will make you the subject of ridicule.

    There are many other habits that do suggest the end of civilization. Changing lanes without signalling, for example. I wholeheartedly support the small minders going after those folks.

  • John Heafield

    I prefer two spaces. Perhaps two spaces are not as necessary with typewriters, as a full mono space will be allocated to the period. In typography, with proportional spacing, the period plus one space doesn’t give enough space to separate one sentence from the next.

    See “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It” by Jim Wallis (hardcover) for an example of difficult-to-read typography, owing to the stingy single space. I found the spacing quite distracting as the spaces between sentences appeared smaller than those between words within a sentence.

    WordPerfect is always converting my double spaces to single spaces. Does anyone know how to turn this irritating bug off? (Yes, I know they think it’s a feature.)

  • NinjaSperm

    How about if we accomodate both single and double spacing in our text so that we have triple spacing and everyone’s happy? Eeeat meee!!!

  • Arnold

    The misunderstanding is that people confuse typewritten copy (from typewriters–remember those?) from typeset copy. Back before desktop publishing, typesetting was a profession, and typesetters received typewritten copy and followed typesetting rules to typeset it: hence the double space (proper in typescript) disappeared when typeset. If you can track down typesetter style manuals, such as older GPO Style Manuals or the Oxford manual, you’ll see this. There were many other such “corrections” made by typesetters, such as curly quotes and en-dashes for hyphens in numerical sequences and compound hyphenated compounds

    With the advent of desktop publishing, people did their own typesetting, and they mistakenly applied typewriter rules to typeset copy. HTML in its wisdom ignores these spaces, and typographically sophisticated DTP programs like Framemaker have a preferences setting that prevents double spaces between words (and its spell checker corrects them also).

    I lived through the whole process, starting with hand-setting type from a California case in junior high school print shop (while at the same time taking typing class), through the IBM Composer, hand-set headline phototype, the Compugraphic phototypesetters (pre– and post-Postscript), and finally all the DTP software that has come out. All this typesetting knowledge and wisdom was lost because the last Monotype machines were surplused by the U.S. government in the 1970s, before the web, so there was a gap and none of it was put online.

  • Pharoah

    I’m from America (Pennsylvania specifically), and I have never heard of the 2 space thingy. I would vote “B” unquestionably. I cannot understand why it would have originated in typewriters, as monospaced fonts especially afford much more whitespace.


    My understanding has always been that a single space is used for modern proportional-spaced fonts, while two spaces are used for monospace fonts (e.g., Courier).

  • Killer

    The Associated Press Stylebook © 2002 says one space.

  • Steven

    Strange, that back in school being taught Word Processing I was almost revolted at the idea of double spaces. Many years later, most of the textbooks I read and anyone I ever email seems to use single spaces now.

    Just recently I noticed some text which used double spaces and decided to try it. I just can’t get enough of it; I now find myself using double spaces all the time, whether using a word processor or just a fixed width font. I think they’re much clearer, especially to someone who tends to skim read everything like I do. I’d say it looks more elegant, and even quite distinctive when you come across text using double spaces.

    So there!

    I can’t imagine either way particularly *annoying* someone, or causing any technical issue. So I suggest that people try both ways, and stick to whatever you prefer.

  • Miracle

    Single space or double space. Pretty much anything I can say would just be repeating what has already been said, but the difference that I want to put out is very distinct.

    If you are writing for an artistic venue such as a magazine article or webpage where the visual impact of the entire page is as important as the content, then single spacing may be the better way to go. But if you are writing a paper or document where ease of read is most important, then double spacing is going to be the preffered method. It alls boils down to preference.

    Standards and rules are what the majority says they are, and it seems pretty much split down the middle to me. There are plenty of reasons why people are holding onto double spacing or embracing single spacing, but I highly doubt that laziness or stubborness are in the majority.

    I personally am a double spacer, not because I was raised that way, but because I agree that a sentence is it’s own entity and should be divided from the next, and it is easier to read. Unless you grew up reading single spaced, then the double space is just an annoyance. People tend to prefer what they grew up with, but that’s all it is, a preference.

  • Greg

    To the double-spacers:

    If you prefer double space because it’s what you read the most, you must only be reading your own writing. Most everything published now is single-spaced.

  • szonkie

    It’s single spacing dummy, if I wanted to fly from A to B I wouldn’t use 2 planes…I would fly one and use the other to fill in for me further along the journey!!!

  • Legal Beagle

    I grew up on the two space method and switched to single spacing just to keep abreast of the times. I was told in computer classes that single spacing is done because it is faster. But then I took courses in legal writing and was taught that single spacing is not tolerated in the legal world. It seemed to me that if two spaces is standard in the practice of law, then the law is that double spacing is both correct and in.

  • jrcjr

    Like spelling and usage errors!

    When making a reference to research, the spelling is cited, not sighted. This is a usage error.

    Other common usage errors include:

    effected — to bring about, to cause

    affected — how one thing or action is linked to another thing or action

    The doctor’s use of medicine effected a cure in the patient.

    The runner’s pace affected his breathing, making it labored.

    your — possessive of you

    you’re — contraction of you are

    Is this your glass?

    Do you know where you’re going?

    their — possessive of they

    they’re — contraction of they are

    On the way to a concert, the band took a wrong turn and hit a pothole, now their bus is disabled and they’re going to have to walk the rest of the way.

    Isn’t it amazing? Back when I was in school, the teachers always were grumping at us about grammar grammar grammar, nowadays, grammar has taken a backseat to usage and spelling errors. The students can’t even spell or use words correctly. It’s time to start voting up those school tax levies and writing to Congress to get them to put more funding in education.

    And if anyone snorts and tells you it’s a waste of time, or complains thusly, ‘But I don’t have any kids, why should I pay extra taxes for education?’ Politely give them this scenario: You can either pay your twenty dollars a month today, or in twenty years, those uneducated punks are going to be breaking into your house and taking your television and your stereo. Either way you pay, and if you’d like to keep your stuff later in life, it’s better that you pay sooner.

    And as far as the debate:

    Two spaces after punctuation seems to be upheld by only those people, doctors, lawyers, college professors, who don’t do their own typing to begin with. Or those who are on a power trip because they want to make people type their way. Some ancient, cryptic manner of typing where the source for the knowledge and the reason ‘why’ has long been forgotten.

    The problem here is that there is no clear definition and there never will be. Some people will stick to whatever copy of the MLA they’re familiar with, others will go with what the printing industry is now doing.

    From what I’ve heard, the period on typewriters is so insignificant, and if the ribbon is too dry, it’s even more insignificant, the two spaces after the period is pretty much padding to insure that a person knows where the end of the sentence is if the period didn’t strike properly. Since we no longer use typewriters, we no longer need to use two spaces, unless you still use a crappy inkjet printer where it puts white streaks through everything it prints out. Then you might want to use two spaces in case one of those white streaks goes right through a period or three.

    But remember that same college professor who won’t let you make up the test when you’re sick, that same doctor that can’t tell you what’s wrong with you when you go to get an excuse for the professor, and that same lawyer who can’t win the case against the doctor when it turns out to be cancer all know way more than you. Not because you don’t know anything, but because these days the world suffers from expertitis, where everyone runs crying to an expert whenever anything goes wrong and once you get there, no one seems ‘expert’ enough to actually help.

    The world just needs to take a deep breath…and push…and crap these so called experts and the people that cling to them right out the bottom of the Earth. Then the rest of us can breathe easy and maybe discover the cure for cancer or AIDS, or just plain enjoy our lives.

  • Laura

    I can’t believe how many “obsessive” people there are out there about something as minor as one or two spaces after a period! I’m “older” so I automatically put two, but I don’t think the world is going to end or explode if I continue that way.

    What’s more important (aside from global famine and global warming and global war), from a grammatical viewpoint, is correct spelling and correct use of the English language. I’m a proofreader and I can’t stand people who can’t spell, create readable sentences and write articulate English. The one-space, two-space debate is just not all that important, put into perspective.

    By the way, I would opt for a comma after red, blue, and green; otherwise, I would assume the last balloon is both blue and green.

    By the way, I’ve been told I’m a too-nitpicky proofreader, but I just can’t really get all that upset about the one-space, two-space debate! However, that fact that I’m even bothering to write something about it says something about something.….

  • Laura

    Three more comments, before I go on to some more “pressing” work: (1) I like the person who said, “Use three spaces”! Yay, let’s just do that and end the debate. Great sense of humor.

    (2) I’m really impressed with the articulateness (including correct use of verbs, spelling, etc., etc.) displayed by all the writers/contributors. Wow! I’m really impressed. You should see the emails I get at work: if I can even figure out what the person is trying to say, I consider that a “good” email. I am so glad to be in the company of people who know how to write a wonderful, literate, articulate sentence or paragraph.

    (3) Hey, I’m even for putting just three blank spaces between sentences if it will help one realize that a sentence has ended and another one is beginning.

    Gotta go and write some letters and publicity material.… Have fun with your debate. Long live literate people and may we all not be required ever again in our workplaces to “dumb ourselves down” (a phrase that I hate!) just so someone won’t make fun of our multisyllabic words or continually correct punctuation (yes, it does happen continually in my workplace).

    Cheers to all, from a long-ago Linguistics major and a continually interested learner and researcher in all things pertaining to language.

  • billyk

    I never thought this would occupy my time until

    a web design client requested two spaces.

    In Australia there was an outbreak of RSI (repetitive strain injury) among typists in the late 70’s, early 80’s that led to a revision of typography and the rules for typists, including no indentation of paragraphs and single spacing at the end of sentences.

    The current Australian Government style manual recommends single spacing — so there, debate over.

    And Laura, your example:

    “By the way, I would opt for a comma after red, blue, and green; otherwise, I would assume the last balloon is both blue and green.”

    is quite correct, but I was taught never to place a comma before “and”. This was a ‘superstition’ perpetrated by generations of teachers and has no basis in fact. You can find it on the web if you look up “oxford comma”.



  • Paul

    Each and every one of these comments use single spacing after fullstops. Why? Because HTML reduces double spaces (or triple spaces, or even line breaks) into a single unit. The entire internet is using single spacing, and not one of the people suggesting double spaces seems to care, or even notice…

  • Theodore Rosendorf


  • Thomas

    I was taught that the primary question of space is one of the ‘colour’ of a text. Text that has an even ‘colour’ (that is, the even distribution of tone across the line and across the body as a whole) is the most legible, and easiest on the eye.

    (Simple test is to squint and look for the ‘holes’, or turn the text upside down.)

    Double spaces tend to break the even colour of the line and ‘stop’ the movement of the eye when reading. The assumption is that people read by composing type, as it were, in their heads, building words from letters and lines from words, whereas in fact people read by shape recognition, not by recognising individual characters or punctuation marks.

    ‘Rivers’, for example, those white snake-like shapes caused by the near-vertical alignment of word spaces, are traditionally something else the typesetter seeks to avoid – something else that distracts and tires the eye when reading.

    Long ‘saccades’ — the skip of the eye across a line of text (like a stone skipped over a pond) are the ideal, short saccades are tiring on the eye.

    Hence ‘specialist’ texts are harder to read because of the higher incidence of uncommon words which are thus not easily recognised — causing an increase in the number of saccades – whilst most people will assume it’s difficult because it’s too hard to understand, often it’s difficult because the eye grows tired from jumping back and forth over unusual word structures.

  • Shelby Moore

    We covered this issue in detail back in 2002:

    …on lower resolution devices (or approximately monospaced devices such as a typewriter or handwriting) the spacing between letters is often larger and varies for each letter combination juxtaposed. Thus a single space after a period will often be confused by the eye with the spacing between letters. On top of this, the low resolution of these devices causes aliasing (jaggies) which can randomly shift a letter stroke 1 whole pixel from it’s intended position, and thus larger spacing is needed to counteract (make reliable) the weaknesses in (unreliable) spacing consistency of the device. On top of this, the period is the smallest character, and is often only 1 pixel on these low resolution devices. It can easily be lost in sea of weaknesses of such devices…

  • David Schuman

    To Be Honest, I never notice the double spacing after a punctuation marks. In the small font sizes I view text in, (8–10 pt @ 1280x1024 on a laptop)it is not that noticeable. At these sizes, a single space is almost a single pixel, maybe 2. Once I increase the text size to where it is noticeable, it just looks wrong, like someone placed tabs at the end of each sentence. Now maybe I don’t notice this in small print / High resolution because I only see out of one eye and can read small print without the conflicting image from my other eye. It is more likely it’s from reading single spaced print most of my life and that is what I am used to reading.

    But I don’t see much of a difference in 12 points or smaller, and if you full justify it, it’s a moot point all together, which is probably why typesetters remove the “Extra” space.

    and computers remove the extra space so that the program can have more control over it, Program like TeX see all whitespace as whitespace. and go by the rules set by the typesetter to achieve a consistent look.

    So the answer is really is, what style are you typing in? Legal documents require more spacing between sentences. They are not sent to printers, and are normally typed, from what I have seen, in Mono space fonts where everyone tends to agree it is needed. So the style calls for it in those cases.

    Now we are Lazy humans, and don’t want to remember to double space or not to double space based on what we are writing. So if you type these things that require double spacing, you will probably gain that habit. because you want to do this to everything.

    When I went to school (Graduated 1992) Double spacing only meant writing on every other line., and was a paragraph formatting option on the work processor. But then again, I never took an actual Typing Class.

  • Kristopher Cargile

    Saying that you should use double spaces “because that’s how I was taught on my Remington” is akin to saying that we should still be using lead-based paint “because that’s how we did it back in the dark ages.” Technology changes. Standards change. Tools change. Adapt or retire and take up shuffleboard.

  • Mat Cynic

    Single space fo sho.

  • Jeffrey

    OK, I’ll admit I’m a bit older. I took typing and keyboarding classes quite some time ago; typing in the late ‘60s and keyboarding in early ‘70s. In both cases I was taught to double space after a sentence.

    I understand that because something always was does not mean it always has to be. However, I speed read. I have found that the single spacing after sentences, which is now common practice, slows my reading. I don’t know if that means I need adapt and re-learn how to speed read or if it is inherently easier to read with the double space.

  • Donny

    The double space after a period, in a sentence, is required. It is a long standing convention AND is a must for accurate reading, aloud especially.

  • Doug Cardell

    First, I’m amazed that anyone can get passionate about spaces, I love it, passion is good!

    Second, communication is, by it’s nature, multifaceted. It is about getting a thought from the writer (speaker, sender) to the reader (listener, receiver) in whatever way that will do so effectively and economically. It is also about style. Most of us would recognize the style of a favorite writer or artist or musician. (The use of three ‘ors’ in the previous sentence is an example of style.) It is incumbent upon the writer (speaker, sender) to transmit in the language and style that will best transmit the message and the style intended. if a writer, like e. e. cummings, believes that his messages is best transmitted without capital letters, that’s his choice. IF ANOTHER DECIDES TO USE ALL CAPS, DITTO. One space, two spaces, three four or more spaces is a decision that should be left to the writer. I would not be in the least offended if an editor questioned my use of spaces, punctuation or other rules of grammar but I would not allow my work to be published except in the form I intended.

    Third, there is some room for negotiation though. A magazine, newspaper or website has artistic and stylistic issues of its own so the editor and writer may need to negotiate when there is a clash of styles.

    Fourth, commas and conjuctions should usually be used in the most clear and economical manner. In the case of red, green, and blue balloons the comma before the conjunction is warranted because the lack of it introduces uncertainty. In my sentence above “A magazine, newspaper or website …” the extra comma is unnecessary because there is no entity ‘newspaper or website’ that could create doubt in the reader’s mind.

    Fifth, communication will tend to improve over time if it is allowed to evolve. Structures that remain stagnant usually become irrelevant. So I would argue against ‘rules’ and in favor of discussions about effectiveness and recognize that effectiveness is rarely one size fits all. If I’m sure that ‘r u there’ will communicate what I intend in both substance and style to my intended audience, great! If I’m sure that my listener will interpret my use of ‘ain’t’ or ‘proactive’ correctly, cool! Let’s have fewer rules and more thoughtful communication, OK?

    This is all obviously IMHO!

  • Omar Marguerite Pooley

    Less is more, therefore I space once. Always have. But I discovered a few years ago through my job that some individuals hit the space bar twice, on purpose! I didn’t know this even existed. I am a graphic designer, but a good part of my job is to deal with english copies, although not being an english native speaker. Like a few others here I red, I hated the time I use to waste erasing what I used to consider nothing but disgraceful and repellent excesses. But that was before I red this blog! I have learnt to know the motivations of my “enemies” (Ah! Ah! Ah!).

    Perhaps 98% of what we read is single-spaced and I never heard any complaint about that, furthermore I am told even by clients to “fix” the double spaces. I do not agree with them on anything, sure not, but I happen to back them up on this one.

    In my opinion, overspacing do not reinforce the structure of the text nor it increases readability, it just breaks the flux of the reading by distracting the attention from the content to the context (excellent points taken by Mr. Thomas, up there!). You may not know this joke on the web, as I believe it is not originally in english, about the pertinence of the orders of the letters of a word:

    “Acrocdnig to a Cmabridge Uvinertisy sdtuy, The oredr of the lttrees in a wrod is iverrelnat, the olny tinhg ipmrotnat is taht the frsit and the lsat ltteer soulhd be at the rghit pacle. The rset can be in a taotl dsoriedr, you wlil sltil be albe to raed it wouthit porlbem. Taht is baucese the hmauin bairn deos not pay aeintottn to the ltetres, but to the wrod as a wlohe. Do you need mroe porof? So don’t keep bthroenig me wtih my otrahoprgh!!!”

    I think it tells very much of our misconception about what happens when we read, and therefore about how we “think” what is actually easy to read. I feel that double space just gets in the way of the natural reading process, but that might also be an illusion created by my habits…

    This question also reveals in my opinion our stubborness concerning what we’ve been taught as a kid and take as unquestionable truth. Being European working in Japan for quite a while now, I’ve been through a few “culture shocks” at the beginning and I’d like to take the risk to say there is no such a thing as the “Truth”, as anyone has got its own. Sure everybody knows there is no way one may change the mind who is sure he is right by his standards. And why should we? So you put double spaces after a full stop, oh, sorry, I meant “period”(which is “correct” by the way?). That should not be a problem as long as the message is fully understood. So yes, and YES again, completely agreeing with my predecessor on the post, Mr. Cardell: less rules, respectful and THOUGHTFUL communication! But unfortunately, obvious things and comon sense doesn’t seem to be the mainstream in this world.

    By the way, I would choose to put a comma after red, blue, and green, in this particular case. I believe other usual cases are not as misleading as this one. Since it doesn’t affect understanding, I think that a comma added to a “and” just feels redundant. But there again, it is in my opinion a matter of personnal sense. It’s the call of each of us. Isn’t it great to have the choice?

  • Intrepidacious

    Whether you use typewriters or typesetting or word processors, the end result is putting the text on the page or on the screen. How that output appears should determine the fine points of single-spacing or double-spacing after a sentence.

    I’ve heard the argument of “rivers of white space”, but that seems a bit silly to me since sentences in papers I write typically aren’t the length of one line! If your sentences take two or more lines in a paragraph, how would you get rivers of white space?

    The choice you make, though, should still depend on the appearance of the output, regardless of whether you’re using a typewriter or word processor, or even which font you’re using. Use one or two spaces according to what looks best.

    Most of my work is done using Microsoft Word with proportional fonts, and I find that two spaces works well to support the slight mental pause at the end of each sentence, and to avoid the potential confusion as has been noted above, with abbreviations at the end of sentences.

  • Louise

    [A] Two spaces!!

    I am dyslexic, and the single space after a full stop makes it challenging for me to identify the break in ideas. The double space gives my brain the clue that a new idea is coming.

    For universal design, I think people should be using 2 spaces.

  • Sean

    Can’t believe I went looking for answers to WHY people insist on double spacing! I am a designer/typographer and deal with people’s double spaces every day and i am sick of cleaning up their thumb spasms after a period. All I read is “well, I was taught to do it” WERE USING A COMPUTER PEOPLE, NOT a TYPEWRITER, type designers can add as much space after a full stop when developing a typeface — it is considered when designing them — guys bloody unteach yourselves and get with the times, for the sake of type harmony!

  • Matt Lander

    When God invented the World, he put two spaces after the full-stop.

  • Gavin Shinfield


    One space is a perfect sufficiency.

    Two would be an unnecessary extravagance.

    Oh, and it looks f-ugly.

  • Plinko
  • Molly

    This whole fake argument about the typewriter vs. proportional fonts is asinine. The purpose of using two spaces after a period was never related to the typewriter or proportional fonts. Its purpose is a visual cue to improves legibility.

  • Bhushan Sayyed

    Better late than never: One space after a period unless it is a fixed-width font (e.g., Courier, or a typewriter). Two spaces after a colon. I would agree with other opinions if they were not wrong.