WHICH DO YOU PREFER – two spaces after a period, or one? What? You say, TEN? Sorry, I didn’t give you that option. Ah… the age old argument. That keeps going back and forth endlessly…
Anyways, if you learned to type when the typewriter was in style, then you were probably taught to double space after a period. Same thing if you were taught by someone who learned to type on the typewriter.
Technology columnist, Farhad Manjoo, talks about why you should never ever do that again in his classic article for Slate. And he puts forth a pretty compelling argument.
Here are his 10 reasons why single spacing after a period is the only way to go:
“Typographers, the people who study and design the typewritten word, decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences.“
Typesetting started with a random array of spacing choices, with each having his own preference. However, around the early 20th century, they began to settle on a single space as best practice.
“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 problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—so using single spacing resulted in unsightly unevenness. Double spacing was the norm back then. Even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do.
“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.“
“Aesthetics are the best argument in favor of one space over two. One space is simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing. (It also requires less work, which isn’t nothing.)“
“A page of text with two spaces between every sentence looks riddled with holes; a page of text with an ordinary space looks just as it should.“
Practitioners of publishing—writers, editors, typographers, and others—settled on the “one space after a period” rule after decades of experience. So that’s how we should do it.
“The only reason today’s teachers learned to use two spaces is because their teachers were in the grip of old-school technology. We would never accept teachers pushing other outmoded ideas on kids because that’s what was popular back when they were in school. The same should go for typing.“
So… should you double space, or single space after a period?
Definitely single space. Because it’s easy. And it’s cool. And it looks good. And you have this awesome list of reasons to back you up.
Unless you want to double space. Or your boss wants you to double space. In which case, it’s totally up to you what you do.
Me? I’m going to bed…