Stop Using Two Spaces After a Period. Please.
Pssst….for the readers out there who are around my age and older, this post is for you. We are part of the “two spaces after a period” generation. You know who you are…those of us who took typing classes back in the 1980’s and earlier? You do realize we’re in the 21st century now, right?
First of all, I must confess…I loved my typing class in high school. I learned how to type to the beat of music, and when I graduated in 1987, I think I was typing close to 100 wpm – on an IBM Selectric typewriter, no less. Yes, a typewriter.
Before I ever started typing on a computer keyboard, my fingers knew exactly where they should be to make letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs come to life. Well, in between adding fresh sheets of paper (one at a time!). To this day, I blame my loud typing on learning how to type on a typewriter. Because I am seriously unable to type quietly, even with the feather-touch keys of my laptop. But I digress…
However, the one major thing that all of our typing teachers completely drilled into our heads – which seemed more important than breathing at the time – has ended up being one of the worst mistakes for writers in the 21st century. I’m talking about using two spaces after a period. Or any punctuation, for that matter.
In this day of digital publishing, two spaces after punctuation is a really big “no-no.”
And yes, I was completely guilty of making that mistake as a new blogger and social media manager a few years ago. Oh, the humanity.
Luckily, one of my wonderful online mentors at the time pointed out how my erroneous (yet completely ingrained) use of two spaces after a period was driving her to distraction.
My initial reaction was shock. How could my beloved high school teacher have been so wrong??? No way!
Well, it turns out my typing teacher (or the thousands of others just like her) did not teach us the wrong way to type. Rather, the evolution of online publishing has necessitated a change for all of us who do our writing online; and it therefore makes using two spaces after a period obsolete.
Making the change from two spaces to one was not so difficult, it turns out. After using Microsoft Word’s “Find and Replace” feature a few dozen times, I finally adapted to the “using two spaces after a period” rule.
And now it’s me who is driven to distraction when I see others who haven’t yet caught on.
So I want to return the favor bestowed upon me a few years ago. There are many folks out there who write really well. Changing this one thing could make a big difference by boosting their chances for more exposure, either for their business or their personal brand.
Here are three reasons why you should stop using two spaces after a period (for digital writing). Now.
1. Reputable style manuals for digital writers, such as The Chicago Manual of Style Online and the MLA (Modern Language Association), have established thorough guidelines which all online writers should follow. And, although neither acknowledge the use of two spaces after a period is “wrong,” they both highly recommend the single space.
2. Back in the original days of typesetting, two spaces really were necessary in order to show the space between the end of one sentence and the beginning of a new one since spaces were much smaller.
Then, when typewriters came along, they only had one font for every character. As a result, each letter and punctuation mark took the same amount of space on paper. Continuing the practice of using two spaces after a period was just easier for people.
Now, because of the hundreds of font and size possibilities available on our PCs, Macs, mobile devices, and so on, using two spaces is no longer necessary for marking the line between old and new sentences.
3. And finally…using one space after punctuation simply looks better. There, I said it. It helps your online text flow easily and improves its readability. What’s not to like about that?
What have your experiences been like in regards to using one space as opposed to two spaces after a period? Was it a struggle for you – or do you still refuse to try doing it? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Writer’s Digest How Many Spaces After a Period?