by Arun Sinha

The current standard is to type one space, not two spaces, after a period. This shouldn't be controversial.

Look at any book, magazine, newspaper, or professionally produced report or website. What do you see? One space after every period. There are several good reasons for this.

  • It saves space.
  • It looks more professional. Two spaces after a sentence create too wide a gap. A succession of these gaps in a paragraph look like so many holes in your finely formatted text. And sometimes, the column width and sentence lengths conspire to position the holes in a way that creates a river of white space flowing through your paragraph.
  • The empty space above the period and the adjacent blank single space provide enough of a visual separation between sentences. The uppercase letter following the space serves as another signal that the sentence has ended.
  • It saves energy. One less keystroke.
  • Your graphic designer will thank you, because she or he won't have to manually adjust the spaces between sentences.
  • It's easy to remember. When I used to type two spaces after a period, I was never sure what to do after other sentence-ending punctuation. How many spaces after an exclamation point? After all, the exclamation point ends a sentence too.

I'm not sure how the two-space rule came about. I've heard the standard lore about monospaced fonts on typewriters and so forth, but I never bought that explanation.

Whatever the reason was, this is one instance where forgetting history will not condemn you to repeat it. It's time to get over the past. The next time you type a period, don't let your thumb hit the space bar twice. One and done.

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