Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

Below is a great article on the origin of one or two spaces after a period. I think I finally learned this while writing a research paper for a biology class in college.

Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste. * You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you’d be wrong; every third e-mail I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for “Dear Farhad,” my occasional tech-advice column, I’ve removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within.) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I’ve received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces. Some of my best friends are irredeemable two spacers, too, and even my wife has been known to use an unnecessary extra space every now and then (though she points out that she does so only when writing to other two-spacers, just to make them happy).

What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the “correct” number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces. Some people admitted to slipping sometimes and using a single space—but when writing something formal, they were always careful to use two. Others explained they mostly used a single space but felt guilty for violating the two-space “rule.” Still others said they used two spaces all the time, and they were thrilled to be so proper. When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. “Who says two spaces is wrong?” they wanted to know.

Continue reading: Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

4 thoughts on “Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

  1. Ross Klettke

    I’ve heard whiffs of mutterings like this before, but it was an interesting read in longer form. I can’t say it will change my typing behavior immediately, in fact, I just realized I already violated it, but perhaps it will open the door to some gradual change… though I have trouble laying claim to words like “better” when it comes to things like this 🙂

  2. Scott K

    I’m completely switched over to single space since I was told that was the correct thing to do in that college biology class. Think how much time is wasted pushing that space button a second time after EVERY period!?

  3. dave

    I feel we are both correct with one or two spaces. So I will combine our ideas and now use three. Thanks

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