Two Spaces or One Space?

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Learning to type during grade-school and high-school, it was usually taught to place two spaces after each sentence. They never explained why other than “that’s how it’s done”. Which is one fact I always hated about school. They always said this is what it is but rarely ever why.

Here’s the why: Manual typewriters used what is called “monospaced type”. Every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This “type” created a lot of white space in between characters which made it difficult to spot the spaces between sentences quickly. Thus two spaces made text easier to read.

But then came the electric typewriters in the 1970’s. These new found pieces of technology started using proportional fonts instead of monospaced fonts. The computer era also used proportional fonts both on the screen and the printer.

According to typographers, the double space is no longer needed.

So, not even being a thought in my parents head in 1970, why did schooling decide that double spacing was still needed some 15+ years later?

In the modern age of the web, it’s actually impossible to add more than one space between characters or objects without using a non-breaking space code. Now who’s going to do that and why?

If you are ever at the dinner table, smoking your pipe, and which to bring up a dull and boring subject; ask the attendees “single space or double space?”. And if you ever send me double spaced sentences, you’re just wasting my space, even though the APA Style Guide would disagree with me.

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Comments
  1. Ha! Whenever I have to type something out, even paragraphs in html, I still double space after the period. My thinking was this: just in case I have to copy from the html to some printed piece, the double space will still be in the source. Now I see how goofy that is, being that manual typewriters don’t have a paste function. =)

  2. Devin says:

    I don’t know if it’s related, but I seem to remember learning that you separate the city and zip code with two spaces when typing an address.

  3. brilang says:

    Double spaces after a sentence are a hold-over from the typewriter era. There should be no place for that in the modern computer era.

  4. Ryan says:

    There was a good article on Slate.com about this subject, worth a read:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2011/01/space_invaders.html
    Space Invaders, Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

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