Space(s) Following a Period

@cahaya1983 (10038)
Malaysia
October 24, 2015 2:54am CST
It's not a life-changing discourse or anything, but apparently people are still debating about the right number of spaces that should follow a period at the end of a sentence. So there's a group of people saying there should be two spaces, and another group saying there should be one. I'm not going to go into the history of traditional typesetting, typography and whatnot, because you can see the "Sentence Spacing" entry on Wikipedia to read about that. I'm just curious if you think the difference really affects the readability of the text. I personally don't think it does, and I can read both styles just fine. When typing, I prefer the single space following a period just because it's more convenient and that's what I'm used to. What say you?
34 people like this
37 responses
@owlwings (39760)
• Cambridge, England
24 Oct 15
On the old typewriter with mono-spaced (a.k.a 'Courier' or 'Elite') typefaces, two spaces after a full-stop/period, exclamation mark or question mark (and a single space after most other punctuation) was clearer to read, especially when the typescript was used to be read aloud, because it indicated to the reader that a longer pause was required. Now that almost everyone habitually uses variable spaced fonts, it is more common to use the convention found in printed books of having one space (actually an 'em' space in metal typesetting terms) after a full-stop. There is actually no 'right' or 'wrong' about it unless you are preparing copy for a publishing house which has strict rules about punctuation and formatting (as most do).
7 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
I just came across an article that explained about the same thing (i.e the difference between the monospaced typewriter fonts and proportional spaced computer fonts). It makes more sense now why the old typewritten documents tend to use two spaces instead of one. Thanks for sharing that information!
3 people like this
@EddieHands (37807)
• United States
27 Oct 15
You are very Wise Mr. Owl. I do remember when they used to tell us to use 2 spaces. But later on on the net it was only one. Funny how things and times change. I still prefer feather pen and inkwell for my writing.
4 people like this
@Beatburn (3904)
• Philippines
27 Oct 15
I still use two after a period. I don't know maybe because I grew up using typewriters. My wife reminds me (she is the more published writer) that it's now acceptable. I guess I'm sticking to the standard I grew up with. Can we now talk about spaces in between commas, yes, that one? I notice some who do space the comma , like so , and it sometimes hurts my eyes.
4 people like this
• United States
24 Oct 15
Being a 'typist' most of my life I put two, I'll always put two. I think it is easier on the eyes, my eyes anyway.
6 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
From what I've read the ones who are used to typing on a typewriter would normally put two spaces following a period. It seems to be less common now, though.
3 people like this
• United States
24 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 I will keep doing it my way, it's a lifetime habit.
3 people like this
• Greece
28 Oct 15
Same for me, toaught to type, taught to make two spaces. I think of it as being a pause to think before the next sentence begins.
3 people like this
• United States
24 Oct 15
i get smacked when bloggin' fer other folks coz've this very thingy. i'm 'ol' school' when 'twas proper to do a double space 'fter a period. these days it seems that's taboo 'n folks now do the one. i'm still stuck'n the 2 'n they no doubt say a few choice words when they gotta remove 'em 'fore puttin' 'em up. but, when i send schtuff to the publisher, they still want the double - so it makes no sense to me.
4 people like this
@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
24 Oct 15
This comment does surprise me because I took my GCSE English exam bac in 1965, but I have always known 1 space to be the standard.
4 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
Yeah I noticed older texts and documents were typed with the double space style. I thought it's more of a generational thing because now the one space seems to be more common, but interesting that the publishers still request that you put the double.
2 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
@Asylum Same here, I've never taken any formal typing or typography courses but I've always known that the standard form is putting only one space.
1 person likes this
@hereandthere (32786)
• Philippines
24 Oct 15
yes, i remember 2 spaces after periods when typewriters were in use, but now with computers and cellphones, 1 space is faster. the purpose is to separate the words so 1 space still meets that.
4 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
Good point about typing on the cellphone. It would definitely be faster and easier to just put one space following a period if you're typing on the phone's keypad.
@thesids (22358)
• Bhubaneswar, India
24 Oct 15
Aha, a new avatar for you
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
@thesids @hereandthere I like the new avatar! So intriguing. Full of questions!
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (176579)
• Switzerland
24 Oct 15
I have never heard about two spaces after a period. I remember that during our typing lessons they said only one space after the period. The typographical convention is also one space.
3 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
When you said typing lessons, did you mean computer typing? Because I think the two spaces were taught in typing lessons when they used to type with the typewriter. It has to do with the fact that typewriter fonts are monospaced typefaces so the two spaces make the document easier to read. As for computer typed documents, it seems like the industry standard is one space.
4 people like this
@LadyDuck (176579)
• Switzerland
25 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 NO I mean typewriter typing, when I went to school the personal computer did not even exists.
3 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
25 Oct 15
@LadyDuck Haha I thought so, and was surprised that they taught the one space thing since it seems that most people who learned typing on the typewriter are more used to putting two spaces.
1 person likes this
@allknowing (69449)
• India
25 Oct 15
If one wants to follow typing rules then it is two spaces after a period. But for me it is only one space, and I like it that way.
3 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
25 Oct 15
Me too, I'm used to putting one space since I first learned how to type and I think I'd stick to it.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
24 Oct 15
Single for me. I can't see the need for more. These days it's a relief if people use ANY punctuation.
3 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
25 Oct 15
Oh, punctuation! Yeah, I don't mind the one space or two spaces but lack of punctuation...now that would give me a headache.
1 person likes this
@Rollo1 (16685)
• Boston, Massachusetts
24 Oct 15
I am a two spce person. But not on the net. And I don't have a typewriter. But it doesn't really matter because most programs will simply delete the extra space if you put it in. Sometimes you can space out text and sometimes the text editor in the programming will ignore your spaces unless you use html.
3 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
That is true. I noticed that MyLot text editor does the same - it automatically deletes the second space whenever you put two.
@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
24 Oct 15
I would have expected everyone o be aware that 1 space is required following a full stop. If you need to break the flow of the text beyond that then you simply begin a new paragraph. As you say, leaving 2 spaces before the nect sentence would not detract from the fluency of the context but it would be wrong punctuation.
3 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
I've always used one space, but I think when a document is typed using a typewriter the two spaces would actually make it more readable, as explained by @owlwings . When it's typed on a computer I personally don't think it influences the readability, although the majority of style guides like CMOS and EU Style Guide now use only one space.
1 person likes this
@crewgirl (191)
• United States
24 Oct 15
In high school (America) I was trained to use two spaces and it always felt awkward. In college, I was trained to use one space. I think most writers use only one space because it looks better, so I have no idea why my high school English teachers had me use two spaces.
2 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
27 Oct 15
Oh okay, that's interesting. I can't remember being taught to use two spaces in both school and college. Yeah I think one space does make the text look like it flows better.
@thesids (22358)
• Bhubaneswar, India
24 Oct 15
As long as I do not teach Literature or write books, to me it does not matter. Though I prefer giving a space after the stop. And no, technically speaking, it does not affect reading.
2 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
Same thing for me. I don't really mind reading both styles.
1 person likes this
@PhredWreck (6051)
24 Oct 15
I say this: you could put two spaces all ya want to, when a discussion posts here, myLot is gonna change it to one. In fact, I think facebook does it too. So I'll just follow the big guys and use one.
2 people like this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
Oh yeah I actually tried to show the difference between the two when I was typing the discussion and only realized afterwards that the text editor is pro-one space. So I removed the examples. Didn't notice that on Facebook though, but if it does then I guess it's just the typical format of the text editors.
2 people like this
@EddieHands (37807)
• United States
26 Oct 15
I still am not very sure how many spaces are needed after a period. But I do know why a raven is like a writing desk! Funny how that works out.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
27 Oct 15
I thought there's no answer to that riddle!
1 person likes this
@EddieHands (37807)
• United States
27 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 I used to think the same!
1 person likes this
• Midland, Michigan
27 Oct 15
@EddieHands So what is the answer, or aren't you going to clue us in?
1 person likes this
@Pattitude (1298)
• Newton, North Carolina
24 Oct 15
I am old school, having taken typing in high school (graduation year 1977), so back then it was 2 spaces after a period, question mark or colon. And only one after a comma and semicolon. But in today's world, it is common practice to use one. If you are in school and have to write term papers, you are expected to only use one space after a period, question mark or colon and that is default with word processing software, like Word or something similar. I am going to school currently and I use 2, no teacher has corrected me yet!
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
25 Oct 15
I know most publishers today are more inclined towards the use of a single space, and in fact, that seems to be the standard adopted by most style guides today (CMOS for instance). One of my course instructors back in university was very particular about formatting and punctuation but she didn't seem to have problems with one space, and that's what I've been using until now.
@Pattitude (1298)
• Newton, North Carolina
25 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 Thanks, I did not know publishers prefer the one space. That will save me a lot of heartache in my manuscript. I am currently working on a historical fiction, with the Civil War as a backdrop.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
26 Oct 15
@Pattitude You're welcome. Sounds like an interesting project you're working on. Good luck with the manuscript!
1 person likes this
@kborman (84)
• Tyrone, Pennsylvania
26 Oct 15
I think it's just the fact that we go with what we are taught. I grew up being taught in school that there were two spaces after a period. So to this day, that is how I type. The kids in school now are being taught that there is only one space. Like everything else, they have to change the way we teach. So funny, the don't teach cursive anymore in school. The only thing they are taught in cursive is how to write their names because of still needing signatures. SIGH!
1 person likes this
• Tyrone, Pennsylvania
26 Oct 15
And it's so funny that in certain programs, it is auto-corrected to one space anyway. I know that my fingers automatically hit the space bar twice after a period, but my comments are corrected and there is only one space. Maybe that is for the kids who were taught the two space rule. Maybe it's just the simple fact that the teacher who taught us didn't know either and just preferred seeing two spaces after a period.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
26 Oct 15
@kborman That's true, it seems like most text editors would automatically remove the second space. You also made a good point about doing things the way we were taught. I guess in a way it does have to do with the difference being a generational thing. I've never taken formal courses in typing but have always used one space in any document I type ever since I was in school and that seems to be the standard nowadays.
1 person likes this
• Tyrone, Pennsylvania
30 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 It's kind of funny how I think of things these days but there are so many things that our kids are taught differently. So my thought goes to what if someone from my generation and someone from this generation were up for the same job and it came down to the difference between the spacing after a period. Even if I had more experience for the said job - newbie would get the job because of the 'standard'. Haha! I must not have needed the job that bad.
1 person likes this
@AkoPinay (10101)
• Philippines
28 Aug 16
I studied secretarial course and yes I learned to use two spaces after a period when typing a business letter. We are blogging, not typing a business letter online so I use single space after period too. LOL! For business letters we use four spaces before printed name but for emails I use two spaces before my name/signature, we don't sign emails anyway. I guess as long as it looks fine online it's ok. Now I use two spaces after a sentence here but it's not noticeable if single or doble space so it's ok.. Maybe computers AUTOCORRECT it you know it's the IN THING
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
2 Sep 16
Haha maybe I never took any typing courses or whatever so I've always used one space after a period. I only knew that in typing classes they teach (or used to teach, not sure) you to use two spaces from my ex-boss. Not that it matters much to me.
1 person likes this
@AkoPinay (10101)
• Philippines
2 Sep 16
@cahaya1983 yes, it is written in the typing BOOK where samples are all typing business letters, job application letters etc.
1 person likes this
@rebelann (42829)
• El Paso, Texas
27 Oct 15
When I was a senior in high school (1969) we were taught that the correct number of spaces should always be 2. At my first job I was told to put 2 spaces after the period (1971) I think the internet has done away with old rules secretaries used to have to follow, so much for protocol.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
27 Oct 15
Actually, I was surprised to know that there was a paper published in 2003 about this whole spacing thing which stated that single spacing started to become the standard in books, papers and magazines since 1950. The Internet has done away with the two spaces rule because of the format of the text editor.
2 people like this
@rebelann (42829)
• El Paso, Texas
27 Oct 15
Well, my teacher was obviously way behind the times as were my first 2 bosses who insisted all business letters we sent out had to have 2 spaces after a period @cahaya1983 but that was way before the internet as we know it.
1 person likes this
@just4him (127167)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
26 Oct 15
I am generally a two space person. However, if you publish anything, follow the guidelines for spacing. Generally it's two spaces with traditional publishing and one space if you self-publish.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
27 Oct 15
Oh, is it? I read a few articles saying that most publishers require authors to use one space when they send their manuscripts. I don't know, probably it differs between publishing houses.
1 person likes this
@just4him (127167)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
27 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 I self-published my books and had to go back and single space after every sentence. As I said, you need to follow the publisher's guidelines. Most traditional, where they accept your manuscript and pay advances, want double space.
1 person likes this
@Samanthavv (1386)
• United States
25 Oct 15
I do the double space after a period but it was required in university or we would be marked down for it. I don't really notice when other people don't and I'm definitely not going to give them grief for not doing it. Oh, the silly things people get worked up over.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
25 Oct 15
I know right. I'm surprised to know that marks can be deducted because of the number of spaces though. I can't recall putting two spaces in any of my papers back in university. Maybe it's just a difference in the style guides they go by.
• United States
25 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 it could even just be differences between instructors. Sme might care and some might not. I had one instructor who was terribly picky about it
1 person likes this
@sofssu (14447)
24 Oct 15
The old way was to put two spaces after a period.. but I guess people currently use just one.. I am okay with any as long as the content makes sense.
1 person likes this
@cahaya1983 (10038)
• Malaysia
24 Oct 15
That is true. I'm fine with both too, as long as the document is nicely formatted (spacing between the lines, appropriate lengths of paragraphs, etc.).
1 person likes this
@sofssu (14447)
26 Oct 15
@cahaya1983 Uniformity is what matters at the end of the day. The formatting will look good. There is nothing much to it really.
1 person likes this