One space only people, just the one!

Good lord people, leave the 70s, one space after a sentence. ONE SPACE only, I beg you. Do you use two spaces at the end of sentence? Why? Seriously why? Just don’t do it, please.

From: slate.com  –

“Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.) Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren’t for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine’s shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do. (Also see the persistence of the dreaded Caps Lock key.)

The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition ofproportional typesetting, in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks “loose” and uneven; there’s a lot of white space between characters and words, so it’s more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here’s the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.”

I highlighted and italicised the last sentence. One space. Just the one.

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11 responses to “One space only people, just the one!

  1. I’ve always used two spaces. Maybe it’s just the way I learned in typing class. Don’t really remember, just know was always told two spaces after a period. Guess I’m gonna have to retrain myself.

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    • You are not alone! The article was interesting because he highlighted that there is no educational or socio economic factor that points to the use of double space or single space, it’s all down to those nasty typewriters and old monospaced fonts. But so much of my day editing other people’s contributions at work involves deleting those pesky spaces! 🙂

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  2. Thank you! I remember doing typing tests for jobs and got them wrong because of the silly 2 spaces.

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  3. AkephalonMuse

    I learned the two-space method when I learned how to type in high school, and it carried over into…until I recently saw this article. I’d tried one space in class but it would get me into hot water. The fact that one space has been standard operating procedure for so long—and yet we weren’t taught this—baffles me.
    I’ve been trying to break the two-space habit for a while. I’m working on it but sometimes my head goes “I’m in charge and I will use as many spaces as I W A N T! ”

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    • It’s tough to break a habit of such long standing, but imagine in the course of a manuscript and all the rewrites how many key strokes you’d save 🙂
      A graphic design friend thanked me for this post on facebook as a community service for her industry lol!

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  4. Dear heavens, thank you. THANK YOU. Yes. One space.

    I am sometimes in a position where I have to correct people who learned the two-space method, and they get SO DEFENSIVE.

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  5. I was taught two spaces, back when typewriters were the only option (the personal computer hadn’t been invented yet). I will probably always type two spaces. It’s drilled into my fingers. But html collapses multiple spaces into one, so my online writing fixes itself. For the rest, it’s search-and-replace.

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    • I had no idea that html code took the double space out. That’s handy! I think a lot of us get to a point where we realise that the two spaces are going to stay, the instinct is too ingrained, but I am SO pleased to hear you have realised this and compensated. Yay, gold star for you *. Kinda wish I knew how to make the star yellow….

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