Grammar Hammer: Two Spaces or Not Two Spaces?

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I’m of the age that one of the classes I took in high school was typing. Putting two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence was drilled into our heads as a best practice with no rhyme or reason for why this was necessary.

Recently, a heated discussion over whether this practice is correct or incorrect surfaced on my social media feed, a subject I felt was worth discussing in this edition of Grammar Hammer.

Grammar Hammer: Two Spaces  or One Space

There is some history to the “two space” practice. I’d always thought it had to do with the art of typesetting and those who manually set each letter and block. The “modern” convention of one space following the end of a sentence is traced back as far as the early 1920s.

In today’s digital world, two spaces is unnecessary, and as such I’ve discontinued the [space space] habit pounded into my brain from my younger years.

What are your convictions on this subject? Are you a die-hard two spacer? Or have you adapted to the freedom that digital media provides and go with the single space after your sentence’s punctuation?

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

A version of this post originally appeared on PR Newswire’s Beyond PR blog. Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

Typewriter image modified from original by April Killingsworth; used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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30 Responses

  1. The two space technique was started in the late 1800’s but most publishers have stopped it. Most academic citations (MLA, APA, Chicago) have decided that there is no longer a reason for the second space. I remember hearing some adults talk about adding the second space when I first started typing, but it has been decided that the second space does not improve readability, as it was once seen to do. I have gotten used to writing for college courses so I feel no need to add the second space.

  2. Depending on the program you use for online publishing, it’s automatically fixed for you as well. I read that the two space after the period rule makes web pages look choppy. Therefore, it has been discontinued. Now I have to fight my brain and fingers. Case in point: This comment has two spaces after each period (but let’s see if it stays that way when I post the comment).

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  1. September 25, 2014

    […] article I found recently discusses the use of one or two spaces following a period and preceding the next […]

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