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After a period, two spaces.     Or one.

It’s a generational thing. If you learned to type on a manual typewriter, you likely put two spaces after a period.    Like that. If you learned to type on an electric typewriter or a computer (most everyone), you likely put one space after a period. Like this.

I learned to type on an electric at school and a manual at home. I was a two spacer.    Then I purchased a Mac Plus computer, and I became a one spacer. I prefer one space.

Business Insider’s Farhad Manjoo, offers this commentary: Why You Should Never, Ever Put Two Spaces After A Period

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 of proportional 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.

© 2017, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Tyler Anderson March 15, 2017, 12:13 am

    While I can understand the idea behind using two spaces, I never have any issue reading typewritten work that has just the usual one. And on most letterhead I’ve come across (All 1930’s or earlier), there is just one space. When would the trend of 2 spaces have caught on?

    • Mark Adams March 15, 2017, 12:21 am

      That’s a darn good observation. I’ll have to look at my docs and instruction books.

  • Tom Hitt March 15, 2017, 6:55 pm

    When typing letters on a typewriter, I reflexively put in two, based on my lessons from long ago. I don’t feel a need change my technique just because it’s out of fashion. You have vindicated me anyway, I’m using a typewriter. If I errantly sneak in two on my next best selling draft, well, I’ll count on my editor to catch that. ~T~

  • Richard P March 16, 2017, 7:13 pm

    I’m in the habit of using 2 spaces with a typewriter, 1 space on a computer. I just switch without thinking about it. Exception: my IBM Executive automatically puts a largeish space after a period, so NO extra space is needed!

  • JAYoung March 20, 2017, 5:04 pm

    My theory is that two-space must have been a school of thought in the high school typewriting teaching fraternity in the 1950s-60s, or perhaps earlier.
    All I know is that as a newspaper copy editor in the 1990s on, double spacing was the bane of my existence in contributed copy. (Staff reporters were quickly broken of the habit.)
    Finally I learned the find-and-replace function in QuarkXPress worked with spaces, so it was easy to wash them out, once the text was in Quark.

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