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Stop Double Spacing Between Sentences

Should I double-space between my sentences?

In short . . . NO!

Writing sentences that take a reader to fabulous places in their minds; that are thought-provoking or inspirational or informative are hard enough. Now we have to make sure we space them correctly? Well, yes. Yes you do.

One space or two? This is an age-old question. It has been debated for centuries as we have moved from handwriting to typesetting to typewriters to computers. At the core of the debate of sentence spacing is what is the best format for ease of viewing and readability. That was much more difficult when there was less control over the writing or less choices of the type that was used. So, the answer was space. Today’s computers have hundreds of font choices and design options which allow for making readability the best it can be. Let’s take a look at the one space or two debate as it is today and what your choice is now as a writer.

Using Two Spaces Dates You!

The era of two spaces began in the IBM Selectric typewriter area. If you learned how to type on one of these that were the best of the best in the 80s, you learned to put two spaces after a period. That’s because typewriters are monospace; they use the same space for all characters (i.e., a j takes the same space as a w) so double spaces after a sentence was necessary to make it easier to read. And you are old. And no one wants any of that! The best way to hide your age is to unlearn that habit. Retrain your brain to only use one space and you can lie about your age as much as you want…

It is the Approved Form of the Chicago Manual of Style.

If you write for publication, many times you will be asked if you have written consistent with a style guide. The Chicago Manual of Style is considered by many to be the Bible of writing and breaks all ties for how to write. It is updated regularly as styles change with new technology and new trends so it stays current. Here is its determination for how to space after a sentence. Case closed.

Science Takes a Crack at the Issue.

Really? You bet. This is serious business folks. And not just anyone. The Washington Post got into the fray. Does two or one space help with reading? Seems like it should be an easy question to answer. But it apparently warranted an actual scientific study. And here it is. The study seemed to suggest that two spaces makes reading easier. But here was the article that debunks that study. So you’ll have to work this out for yourself.

Don’t Think You Can Give Up That Extra Space?

I know, it’s tough. Muscle memory. You just like the way it looks. Maybe you do still type on an IBM Selectric. Whatever the reason, I encourage you to try and break the habit. Even if it’s to get those extra characters back in tweets! If you’re having trouble, here’s the quick cheater way to go back and fix them when you’ve finished writing.

And yes, I used it when I got to the end of this post. Make one replacement. Old habits die hard.

Happy Reading!


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