JS Tip 241: From the Writing Workshops: One Space After a Period

We talked about this a while ago, but we’ve received questions about it recently. We’ll revisit the topic.

Use one space after a period (or other sentence-ending punctuation).

Wait a minute! That’s not what I learned in high school!

You’re absolutely right. That’s not what you learned in high school. In typing class. On a typewriter.

When was the last time you worked on a typewriter?

Typewriters worked on a mechanical system. Somewhere, deep in the typewriter, was a great big cog that moved the platen (the roller thing) forward one space. The cog didn’t recognize the letter typed; it moved the same space forward if you typed an m or an i.

Typewriters used monospaced fonts. You hit two spaces (thunk, thunk) to identify the end of one sentence and the beginning of another.

Word processors work on an electronic system. The programs recognize the letters and adjust the spacing. A wider space for an m, a narrower space for an i. Your word processor (unless you direct it otherwise) uses proportionally spaced fonts.

And your word processor creates—automatically—the appropriate space between sentences. You don’t have to hit two spaces. In fact, many spell-check programs and auto-correct programs will remove the extra space.

Use one space after a period (or other sentence-ending punctuation). It’s the new world order. Umm. Wait a minute. Poor choice of words.  

We love this stuff. We appreciate you. If you have questions, let us know.