Single Space Between Sentences Wins
It may not be bigger, but it is a longer debate than “Tax Returns” vs. “30,000 Classified Emails”. Do you single space or double space after sentences when you type.
I guess I was one of those “dinosaurs” that was still taking a stand on adding an extra space at the end of a sentence. Even as I type this, I am over-thinking to make sure that I only use one space at the end of this sentence. I hate dating myself. Oh look, I just did it again at the beginning of the previous sentence. I am going to leave the double space there. Hopefully the last time I ever do it again.
What else has changed in my life?
I wonder about all the other things I learned as a child. Things that have lost its meaning in today’s world or have disappeared from the planet. Things like:
- Using a handle to roll up the car window. We still will use a circular motion with our hand to imply to someone that we want them to roll the window down. But today teenagers get the meaning.
- Be kind and rewind – A sign you saw hanging at the counter of every video store that you went to.
- Rotary Dial Phones – I think my aunt and uncle were the last ones to have one still in use in their kitchen.
- 8 Track Tapes – With hits from the BeeGees and more
- MTV – When MTV played music videos, not reality shows.
I might be the last one to use a double space after a sentence? So why bother writing a post about it? I fought the “well it’s on the internet so it must be true” mentality. Thought that the younger people of the world are protesting this notion that I grew up on.
I would see Facebook posts and people arguing about who is right and who is wrong and thought that it’s the same old battle of which way to hang the toilet paper, over or under. Over, of course!!
As for another bathroom battle of the toilet seat being left up or down, that to me always seemed to have an easy solution. When you are done, close the seat cover too. Did you know that when you flush, germs/bacteria can get sprayed into the air and travel several feet? Do you leave your toothbrush out in a holder on the counter? Those germs can reach it.
When you see people posting on Facebook the simple math question of:
2 + 3 x 3 + 1 = ?
And you see multiple different answers in the comments, do you keep your answer to yourself or do you search the internet on the correct order of operations? What answer did you get? If you got 12, then you are correct because the order of operations would mean that you do the multiplication before you do the addition. However many people think that if there are no parentheses, then you do the math from left to right.
Why was it the rule to use double space?
So back to single space vs. double space when it comes to typing. Who decides on what the correct procedure is? It’s not like math, where rules were decided many centuries ago. We are on the cusp of a couple of decades of change. When I learned to type, it was the rule that you put an additional space after your sentences.
Think about the typewriter. Typewriters only had one font and the letters on the typewriter took up the same amount space, meaning that the skinny “i” took up the same amount of space as the wide “w”. So for readability reasons, adding an extra space at the end of a sentence made it easier for the reader. Look up the font for “Monospace Type” and you will see how the spacing between each character is the same.
With the dawn of computers and more and more fonts being programmed, character spacing became more proportional. But when was the “rule” changed? I use “rule” in quotes because according to Wikipedia, the transition started in the early 20th century, long before I was born. In the United States, magazines, newspapers and books began to adopt single space as early as the 1940’s.
If you do any HTML for web designing, you will see that editing programs like Dream Weaver always single space, even if you add the extra space. In fact, I used to hard code the extra space with the which is a non-breaking space. I would add the extra space to my content after I was done writing the webpage.
So what is making me change to single space?
Another post about the debate has forced me to finally research it. To see if it’s just a younger generation movement or if there is some merit behind. Obviously just searching Google for “sentence spacing” and reading a few webpages about it isn’t enough for me to be convinced. I want/need a higher power to tell me that what I have known my whole life is not accurate anymore. Is my “world round and not flat”? So a few authorities on writing all agree. Oxford Style Manual in 2003 and Chicago Manual of Style in 2010 agree that a single space is the proper way to go. Some state that a double space is acceptable for drafts. But then need to be edited for single space for a final written work or publication. Well sorry, that just seems like extra work to go back and fix all the spacing.
As I finish my first writing with single spaces between sentences, I went back to see how many times I inadvertently added an extra space and it was over 30 times. If you are like me and have finally decided to make the change from double space to single space but you subconsciously still add the extra space, here’s a quick tip to fix the problem:
When you are done typing, click on [ctrl] + [F], it will bring up the “find” tool. Then type your double space in the search part. It will highlight all the times that you entered a double space.
Looking to write your first book and want to learn how to self publish it? Order your copy of How to Create & Sell Your Book Through Self-Publishing. Just make sure you do not add any double spaces.
Do you still use a double space after sentences? If so, why? If you recently changed, what made you change to a single space? Please leave comments below.