This question is one I’ve been asking for a bit, but I finally decided to dig into the answer today.
In my new Editor role, one of my job duties is to *surprise* edit articles submitted by people. Something I have noticed a LOT of people doing is placing TWO spaces instead of ONE in between sentences. I don’t ever remember being taught to do this in school, so I was curious why some people use two spaces to separate sentences.
Upon further investigation, I learned that The Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook, and the Modern Language Association all recommend using one space after a period at the end of a sentence. Here’s why:
People who learned to type on a typewriter were taught to put two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence, because typewriter fonts are what are called monospaced fonts. That means every character takes up the same amount of space. An “i” takes up as much space as an “m,” for example. When using a monospaced font, where everything is the same width, it makes sense to type two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence to create a visual break. But when you’re typing on a computer, most fonts are proportional fonts, which means that characters are different widths. An “i” is more narrow than an “m,” for example, and putting extra space between sentences doesn’t do anything to improve readability. (hat-tip to Grammar Girl, one of my favorite writing resources, for the info!)
Question answered! However, it doesn’t solve my problem of having to make those tedious changes when an article is submitted with TWO spaces in between the sentences. Thank God for the “Replace” function in Word. *sigh*….
Leave a comment and let me know if you’re a one- or two-spacer!