It’s time for my annual “Don’t Double Space After a Period” post. I love posting this blog again as a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for my current and future editing clients. While taking out double spaces from manuscripts is not a big deal anymore, you don’t need to do it at all! *** Scroll down to the bottom of this post for an easy way to fix double spaces ***
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; 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 mirror 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?
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 nor 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 and you’ll look new school, too!
To Fix The Two Space Issue
Once you’re in a document, go to your Review Tab in Word, 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?
***Go to “Find/Replace” on your Word screen. In the “Find” dialog box hit “. “ (that’s a period and two spaces—no quotation marks—that’s only for this example). In the “Replace” dialog box hit “. “ (that’s a period and one space). This technique can also work with exclamation marks, commas and question marks. But you may still have to be vigilant when it comes to spaces between words.
Are you a single spacer or a double spacer? How do you feel now after reading this post?