Two; many spaces

Or “I wanted to come up with something clever about spaces after a sentence and this is the best I could think up, so get the eye-rolling out of the way now.”

As far back as I can remember, I’ve put two spaces after sentences while typing. “It looks like you’re only putting one space after sentences,” you might say. And you’d be right, but I’ll get to that.

According to many a teacher, with my Typing class teacher in particular coming to mind, a sentence is to be followed by two spaces before proceeding into the following sentence. Admittedly, it looks right to me. It’s familiar, it’s habitual, and it actually takes some remembering to not make that extra space while in the middle of typing extended bits of writing. If a sentence ended in my writing, the safe bet would have been to expect two spaces.

Friend, fellow writer, and horror movie enthusiast, Zach Owen posted a link to an article on Facebook recently that sort of turned this need for one more space between thoughts on its head, though. The article, and a Google search on the topic in question, revealed the use of two spaces between sentences is a relic from when typewriters were more commonplace, but it is also something to now be considered obsolete by many because of the nature and appearance of the typed word in digital format. Naturally, and as it totally should be, this is the topic of some debate. I prefer to think of it as the grounds upon which defenders of the written word go to battle over, armed with Oxford commas and colorful diction, for the glory of their one space or two space ways.

The most compelling bit, I’ve found, is from Zach’s personal experience with publishers not accepting works with two spaces after sentences.

Fun fact: Joshua’s Nightmares, upon a quick Search and Replace, had 1,026 instances of two spaces after a sentence. So, I mean, thank god I could search that out with Ctrl + F, because otherwise that would have been a special sort of Hell.

In closing, I pose this question: one space or two? What brought you to your one-spacer or two-spacer ways?

3 thoughts on “Two; many spaces

  1. Like you, I was traditionally taught that two spaces after a sentence was not only the correct way, but the only way. That all changed in my grad school intro writing course where I was taught that one space had become the norm and that it was becoming the expected format for professional documentation. I switched then and have never looked back. I tried explaining the use of only one space to my wife once and she looked at me like I had three heads.

    • My high school typing class was lorded over by a woman in her mid-seventies, who admitted she was more familiar with typewriters than computers, so I imagine that is a rather telling detail in itself. I still reflexively default to two spaces at times, but it jumps out at me more than I thought it would since I’ve switched.

      That being said, I can still understand your wife’s reaction.

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