GrammarPhile Blog

Double Space or Not - That is the Question!

Posted by Julie DeSilva   Nov 23, 2010 4:30:00 AM

Recently I have found myself in the midst of a heated debate with two of my close friends—let’s call them Sharon and Mick—who are both excellent writers, but who vet their work through me from time to time for fine-tuning. After all, I am the professional proofreader. Apparently being the only professional proofreader isn’t enough when trying to convince people to give up something they were taught when they were young and hope will appear in their obituaries!

So I bring the debate to this blog and ask you all you to weigh in.

The question is simple: two spaces or one after a period? The answer, in my humble opinion, is also simple: one.

But Sharon came back with 

Since it’s come to my attention that Mick was also severely scolded, I am including him on this email.  After reviewing several websites to clarify the double spacing rule, I have found no significant evidence to support your argument, Julie.  Furthermore (notice the double spacing), each and every website concludes the same result that there is no wrong or right.

If I have time this summer, I will organize a rally on the common promoting double spacing—we have rights too you know.

To which I replied:

As a professional in the publishing business I have to respectfully disagree for 3 reasons:

  1. We don’t typeset with hot lead any more. Digital font creation automatically accounts for proper spacing after a period.
  2. In justified text (like in textbooks, where you will NEVER see double spaces after periods) you create unsightly, tree-killing spaces in between sentences that are down right offensive to the eye.
  3. Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook (the sources for all things published in the universe) have both adopted the MODERN use of one space after a period.

I will be at your rally, Sharon, jumping up and down on a typewriter, wearing a T-shirt that reads “Join us in the new millennium.”

Then Mick weighed in with:

I vote for Sharon’s highly intellectual and even more highly entertaining argument!!  Of course, I do this because it suits my own preference with regards to double double spacing spacing. 

In a phone conversation later he added:

I am just never going to change because that’s the way I was taught. 

Stubborn curmudgeons stuck in the seventies or stalwart stewards of standards of old?

What say you?

Topics: punctuation, spacing

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