One Space or Two?


I’ve just learnt something today from our resident tech-writer that I feel needs sharing. Apparently it is “old” to put two spaces after a full-stop (or “period” for you American’s out there).  See the following articles for evidence:-

When I learnt to type it was with a typewriter.  I was 5 and I used a lot of Tipex.  As readers of my blog will see – I’m not particularly gifted in the spelling / grammar / correct use of the apostrophe department. I quickly moved into the world of word-processors when we upgraded from the Vic-20 to my Commodore PLUS 4 and I never looked back. I found that if I typed up my homework assignments for school, not only was it quicker than hand-writing them (especially when doing multiple drafts), but I frequently got higher grades because the amazing presentation of those new-fangled dot-matrix printers would impress the teachers.

Today I earn my living by typing (all be it typing out code, with infrequent and badly spelt comments). I type over 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for money – not including all the typing I do for pleasure. From here on in, I’m going to try to stop doing a double space after the full-stop but it will take me some time to reverse over 25–years of conditioning.

The question that is really worrying me is what other typing faux-pas have I been committing for the past 25 years?  Actually, I’m also a little worried that I seem to have an obsession with office equipment.  I used to play with a type-writer as a child and I still enjoy browsing through stationary catalogues.  That’s not normal is it.


Two spaces, I say; TWO SPACES! It's the only respectable way to type. The end.

Browsing through stationary catalogues/stores is normal. I love it and my wife loves it even more. "ooh! pretty paper!"

As for other faux-pas that you've been committing, how about quotation marks?

The wikipedia manual of style has an interesting discussion on it:

I'm a two spaces guy as well! Take this quiz to suss out your grammar (yes, it's spelt that way). Then buy the book here

"From here on in, I’m going to try to stop doing a double space after the full-stop but it will take me some time to reverse over 25–years of conditioning."

Wow. That's quite a move.

The interesting thing is that one versus two spaces is a matter of discussion. This isn't a matter of science. To put it another way, it is a matter of convention, rules, and standards.

Two spaces is sort of like a man wearing a hat in a restaurant. You can do it, but it isn't quite proper. It is even less proper in a church. Again, you could do it, but it would be frowned upon. So, depending on how and when you use two spaces, it could be fine or it could be inappropriate. On the other hand, you can always use one period. It isn't ever contentious.

Actually, single spacing after a stop is not just a convention--technology has, in fact, made it a necessity: try double spacing after stops in HTML and see what happens.

On another topic... (and I apolgize for nitpicking you all the time Martin : ) But "learnt" is not used in American English.

It may be still be correct in British English, but a quick google usage check on both phrases: "I learned" vs "I learnt", shows the "learners" at 63 million and the "learnters at a paltry 4 million : )

I know and your soccer team isn't doing too well either : )

Oh my, I just woke up and saw the actual news... My God, England really did lose. I am so, so sorry for my football comment-- This is just heartbreaking. My deep, deep condolences. Believe me I know loss: I'm a Red Sox fan; but this is much bigger.

I never use double space's at the end of sentences, and actually my splelling is pretty good im one of those people that alway's complain's about other peoples bad grammar and punctuation and splelling and apostrope use and thing's like that so i suppose im an pedantic.

I learnt "learnt" at school, and I'm sticking with my English English as long as I can. You can take my double spaces away from me, but you cannot take the Queen's English ;-)

See for more explaination.

Stick with what makes Microsoft Word happy!

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