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One Space Rule

July 8, 2010

I learned in grade school as many have to place two spaces between sentences and it has since been changed to one. This isn’t a huge issue. It’s all about forming a new habit of hitting that space bar once instead of twice. However, I did wonder why the modification was made in the first place. After a bit of research, this is what I discovered:

The original rule was developed during the times of the typewriter. Word processing programs generally use proportionally spaced fonts meaning an “i” takes up the same amount of space as “m”. Typewriters, on the other hand, used non-proportional fonts. So, there was a need for the extra space to help our minds separate the sentences. Basically, since we don’t use typewriters much anymore, there’s no need for the extra space.

Another reason is that some people, including publishers, like to justify text which means Microsoft Word will put little spaces between the words to stretch out the text so that the right-hand margin is straight. including your “extra” spaces. The result can look very ugly. If you have extra spaces in the middle of sentences, Word stretches the text in each line, including your “extra” spaces. The result can look very ugly.

The Bottomline: Save the double spaces for typewriting or personal correspondence. Otherwise, adopt the one space rule in your everyday writing life if you haven’t already.

Andrea didn’t have a problem adapting to the new rule. Not sure why anyone would.
13 Comments
  1. July 8, 2010 12:57 am

    I love learning stuff like this – fascinating! I too am one of those grammarphiles who wants to know WHY.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. censorship permalink
    July 8, 2010 1:26 am

    I suggest you get out a ruler and do some measuring on your own text. But then, this is just the standard we have come to expect from your posts. Perhaps the editors of this site could hit the space bar twice on Wednesday and move straight to Friday. Save all our time and reduce insults to our intelligence.

  3. adampb permalink
    July 8, 2010 4:07 am

    Well, that previous comment seems a little out of place and somewhat unwarranted.
    I agree with Ricki, wanting to know why there are certain rules and how things have evolved over time, especially with the development of new technologies. Now if only I could learn the grammatical rules of English. Had a great discussion with a friend the other night about the use of “as” and “because.”
    I think I like the double space between sentences. Habits are such a hard thing to break.

  4. censorship permalink
    July 8, 2010 4:16 am

    It seems as if people can’t read properly either. To spell things out, i and m do not take up the same amount of space with proportional fonts. In addition, computers can also use non-proportional fonts.

  5. July 8, 2010 5:47 am

    Dear willspeershaker@hotmail.com or censorshiprulesok@hotmail.com as you decided to call yourself after the spam filter picked up your first attempt at commenting.

    Grow up. No, really. Grow up.

    What are you, 12? Anonymous insults from the safety of fake email addresses and pseudonyms? Is that the best you can offer?

    If you have something to say, why not say it and identify yourself, at least have the courtesy to let us know who you are, and the testicular fortitude to stand by your words.

    There’s criticism, which is always legitimate, and then there is abuse, which is never called for. You appear unable to distinguish the two, and have yet again resorted to the latter.

    Next time you anonymously abuse any writer on this site will be your last. Whether by IP ban, or other means, you won’t do it again. Trust me on that.

  6. censorship permalink
    July 8, 2010 6:18 am

    If you can show me where my mistake is, then go ahead and ban me. But be warned, if you block my IP address, you’ll be banning one of your own trusted members, whose IP I’m sneaking in by the back door so to speak.

  7. July 8, 2010 7:07 am

    I’m so glad you posted this – I’ve been wondering why it’s changed and now I know.

    I’m doing a creative writing course and in the feedback for my last assignment I got told to only use one space. I was distraught – change the habit of a lifetime? How was I going to do that. Surprisingly it took me less than a week to master – if only other things in life could be picked up so quickly.

    Ignore people that say otherwise – this is a great post 🙂

  8. censorship permalink
    July 8, 2010 7:37 am

    Stop sticking your head in the sand and pretending the mistakes aren’t there. This has nothing to do with interpretation but basic facts she got wrong. Why can’t she just own up and admit it.

  9. July 8, 2010 7:56 am

    *yawn* It is way too early in the morning for this snarky crap.

    censorship/shakespeare – you’ve made your point; you’ve had your say.

    Now, stop taking your real-life frustrations out on this blog and chill the hell out.

    Better yet, cheer up.

  10. July 8, 2010 8:38 am

    Whatever your name is and whoever you are, permit me to say that I don’t care whether or not you are right or wrong. I’d rather have my head in the sand than go around being nasty to others the way you do. By all means, say what you think and correct us all when we make mistakes but next time please wash your mouth out with soap before you speak up. My mother’s remedy: never fails.

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