Computer: All • Level: Novice
Pop Quiz: You finish typing a sentence. How many spaces do you add after the period, before you begin the next sentence?
If you’re like many people, you’ll likely say two, because that’s the way you were taught in high school.
Well, things change, and not everything your high school teachers taught you is correct. The correct answer is one space.
Two spaces after a period is a throwback to the typewriter days of yesteryear, when letters in typefaces were all the same width and two spaces were needed to help delineate the end of a sentence. Nowadays, computer characters have variable widths so only one space is used after a period.
Don’t believe me? Well, pick up any popular magazine or book and take a look. All professionally typeset pieces have one space after the period.
Think academic writing is exempt from this rule? Not true. The APA Publication Manual (5th edition, page 290) says this: “Space once after all punctuation as follows:…after punctuation marks at the ends of sentences.”
Don’t feel too special if part of you is rebelling against this one-space rule. When I cover this in design seminars, it’s amazing to see the shock and disbelief it causes in a few participants. It’s as if they have been told the world is flat, or that Santa is not real. But times change, and it’s time to leave the 20th century behind us.
Period. Space. Next sentence.