One Space or Two?

Proportional versus Monospace font

In his post yesterday, my blogger friend Jim Adams wrote, “If you have ever read any of my posts you may have noticed that I always skip two spaces after every period and before I start a new sentence. I guess that this would qualify me as being anal.”

No, Jim, not anal. Just a throwback to the dark ages. You see, way back when I was in high school (aka, the dark ages), before personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, I took a typing class. On a typewriter. A manual typewriter.

In that class we were taught to always put two spaces after periods at the end of sentences. It turns out, though, that the “two space rule” I was taught in 10th grade typing class is an archaic rule.

Most typewriters back then had only the courier font, a monospaced font where each letter took up the same amount of space. The skinny “i” and wider “w” occupied the same amount of space on the printed page. To make the text more readable, two spaces were used after the period in order to give the eyes a break between sentences.

When typing on a computer, however, most fonts are proportional fonts, which means that characters are not all the same widths. That skinny “i” referred to earlier takes up much less space than that fat “w.” Hence, putting an extra space between sentences doesn’t do anything to improve readability.

It was difficult for me, at first, to break a decades old habit of putting two spaces after each sentence-ending period. But when I started carefully reading printed documents and emails for work, I noticed that when I used only one space after the periods versus two, they looked better, more professional. And I also noticed that my blog posts looked more professional as well.

So I moved into the 21st century and embraced the “one-space rule.” But this is certainly not a life and death matter, Jim. If you wish to continue to practice the archaic “two-space rule” in your posts, well hey, it’s your blog and you can do as you please. I won’t think any less of you.

Of course, if you do choose to continue to skip two spaces after every period and before you start a new sentence, I’m afraid I’m going to have to rescind my nomination of you for the Unique Blogger Award.

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9 thoughts on “One Space or Two?”

  1. That was a wonderful post! I have been living in a two space world and while I was sleeping, suddenly it has become a one-space world, however this modern and so called easy-to-follow one-space style does not appeal to me, as I have always enjoyed crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste and what is socially unacceptable to some is a must for others. I hate it when the autocorrect kicks in and deletes one of my purposely placed spaces. What some people call an unnecessary extra space, I call beauty and grace of proper writing. I like what I like and I do not care if my salad fork is placed to the left of my plate or the right, as I am more concerned about how the food tastes.

    Liked by 2 people

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