Don’t You Dare Double Space After a Period!

Don’t You Dare Double Space After a Period!

I need to post this blog again as a PSA for my current and future editing clients—while taking out double spaces from manuscripts can be very meditative, it is also time-consuming/labor intensive. Plus, many writers don’t know they shouldn’t double-space, especially if they are coming from a government or scientific background which still uses double spacing after periods. You wouldn’t believe the amount of comments I got from this post last year; I had to eventually disable them because of several fights that broke out—seriously! So, here’s the post again in its entirety, along with steps you can take in the proofreading process where you can fix your double spaces, which exactly mirrors I what do for my editing clients.

Are you still double spacing after you end a sentence? Well, stop! All of the style guides The Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook, and the Modern Language Association (MLA) except for the (APA) American Psychological Association want you to space only once after you end a sentence. I know, I know, it may be really hard to break the habit of hitting the space bar twice, but you’re still not listening to 8 Tracks today, right?



Why the Change?Rose on a diary


You might be wondering how you didn’t get the one-spacing memo. Since word processors came into being in the late 70s/80s, spacing only once after a sentence has become the norm. This is because typewriters monospaced all of the characters, so that an “i” took up the same space as an “m.” Computers use proportional spacing so each character is adjusted for the space and double spacing after periods became an extra unnecessary step. In addition, newspapers frowned on having all of that wasted space in columns which could become valuable ad dollars. When I took typing back in the late 80s, I was taught to double space after periods and colons—it took me awhile to change my old habits, but I know you can do it like I did!


But Don’t Two Spaces Look Better?


Not really. Two spaces make the document “holey” and disjointed. It DOES NOT make it easier for someone to read your work  or does it help the reader know you ended your sentence. As an editor, my eyes go directly to the double spaces and then I start hyperventilating, wondering how many spaces I’ll need to correct. When I edit manuscripts, I get so excited when I don’t need to correct the spacing issue—yay, someone got it!


What if You Don’t Want to Change Your Double-Spacing Ways?


My, aren’t we stubborn? Well, you can stick it to the Man by double spacing in your emails, drafts and letters. Just don’t double space when you’re sending off that email to your future agent, editor or publisher.


Bottom line: please save the spaces! It only takes a small change to make a big difference!


To Fix The Two Space Issue


Once you’re in a document, go to your Review Tab in Word 2007, select Spelling & Grammar on the far left, then hit “Options,” then at the Dialog Box, select “Grammar Only” and hit the “Settings” tab, where you’ll see the option for “Spaces Required Between Sentences” and hit “1.” Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, right?



Your Turn:


Are you a single spacer or a double spacer?  How do you feel now after reading this post?


Posted in: Writing

Leave a Comment (6) ↓


  1. Tyler Johnson April 9, 2014

    Thank you, Alice for posting this. This is a pet peeve of mine. It’s interesting to me that there is such a strong interplay of grammar and typographic convention. It seems that those two things should be different, but they are quite entwined.
    Stomp out those double stops!

    • Alice Osborn April 17, 2014

      Hi Tyler, thanks so much for your comment! And I’m glad you’re in the single space camp. We must change the world one space at a time:)

  2. Dave April 12, 2014

    I am with you in the fight to eliminate double-spacing after periods, Alice! Perhaps part of the problem lies with the fact that old habits die hard — like the QWERTY keyboard, which outlived the purpose for its existence the minute we stopped using typewriters and hammer collisions ceased to be an issue. I mean to switch over to the DVORAK layout one of these days. But switching over to one space after a period shouldn’t be that hard.

    • Alice Osborn April 17, 2014

      Yes, Dave, old habits do die hard! Thanks so much for your comment~

  3. Alfred June 29, 2014

    For printed publications with no justification, a single space after a sentence ending period is ok.
    For web documents, it is tedious to add a double space.
    The APA (American Psychological Association) suggests using two spaces after periods ending sentences to aid readability.
    I write for print and web publications and it is not an “old habit.”
    Now, for something completely different. What is a PSA?

    • Alice Osborn June 29, 2014

      Hi Alfred, thanks so much for commenting on my “Double Space” post. A PSA is a “public service announcement.” Please come back and visit/comment! Alice


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