One Mistake Many Writers Still Make
Do you see any difference between example one and example two?
1. I love dogs. I hate cats.
2. I love dogs. I hate cats.
Anything stand out there?
If you noticed the extra space after the period in example one, then you’re right!
Many of us, way back in elementary school, or when we first learned to type, were told to put two spaces after the period. And to this day, we still write that way.
But, like many rules of grammar, something that started out for a practical reason became a mindless tradition. This article in Slate explains the origins of the “two spaces after the period” rule:
In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine’s shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do.
Oh, the poor typewriter. The traditionalists are going to be so upset. So why did we add two spaces after the period because of the typewriter?
Monospaced type gives you text that looks “loose” and uneven; there’s a lot of white space between characters and words, so it’s more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here’s the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.
I absolutely agree.
Our style guide at work calls for one space after the period. There’s no reason to add the extra space.
Whether you are writing for the web or for print, this outdated rule just adds extra white space. And, in my opinion, it make the copy look a little clunky. Occasionally, I’ll even see a writer who puts three or four spaces after the period…what? That looks horrible.
So, while many of you are probably on top of things and already knew about this, I thought I’d make a public service announcement for any writers out there who’ve missed this.
One space after the period. (Read the entire article here.)
Okay, so be honest, who’s still adding two spaces?