One Space or Two?

Lately, my husband and I (as well as some of our friends) have been involved in a rousing debate…

One space after a full stop (period, question mark, exclamation point) or two spaces?

I (being the brighter spouse) argue that ONE space is correct. Mr. Old School, on the other hand, swears fervently that TWO spaces are proper. I’ve shown him the online arguments for one space (specifically this article, which states: Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.), as well as informed him of the history of typography and the typewriter and fonts, blah, blah, blah. Still, the man insists he’s correct. He’s even gone so far as to ask a (published) teaching professional who (astoundingly) sided (wrongly) with him!

Naturally, I took the issue to Twitter and, predictably, the writing community sided with me. Here are a few of the brilliant responses I received when I asked for opinions on The Great One Space/Two Spaces Debate:

Melissa Blanco – I’d say that teacher is old school. Although I do have to admit two spaces is how I was taught. I’m a one spacer now though.
Sarah Goldberg – Absolutely not correct! I think it was preferred on typewriters (one space can be hard to distinguish), but no longer… I teach college, too, if that helps. 🙂
Bailey Kelsey – It depends on the style being used. It’s not part of MLA and I’m pretty sure neither APA or Chicago either… One is definitely the norm. In my methodology course for English we were told two spaces was really, REALLY wrong now.
Tracey Neithercott – I say incorrect. Though I do remember being taught that in school. Maybe it’s preferred for academics?
Ashton E. Silver – It’s one space! Maybe the teaching professional has a stutter.
Kari Bradley – I’ve never heard a definitive rule. I know many editors change it to 1. I changed to 1 after being taught 2 back in the day.
Zanne – I say incorrect, at least for advertising and journalism. Maybe it’s different in school?
Erin Bowman – It’s correct if you’re using a typewriter. Otherwise, NO. Period, one space, uppercase. The end. The two space rule came from the monospacing of typewriters… how letters all had equal spacing (like the Courier font) and distinguishing between spaces was difficult because it all looked the same. But fancy computer fonts fix this!
Kris Asselin – I’ve made the switch. I now believe one space is correct. But it was within the last couple years. Was taught two spaces.

What do you think, trusted blog reader?
One space after a full stop, or two? 

No, we don’t sit around debating grammar and formatting ALL the time! We went to see The Band Perry and Brad Paisley last weekend and had a blast!


40 thoughts on “One Space or Two?

  1. kford2007 says:

    I was always taught two spaces, but with the advent of e-readers, I believe most publishers now ask that one space be used. It is very difficult for me to do because I’m so used to doing two spaces that now I have to go back in the editing process and edit the double spaces out. Even as I write this, I use two spaces. You can tell your hubby I prefer two. It looks cleaner and neater to me, but we’re old school. Time to get hip. Times are a changin’

  2. Suzi says:

    I made the switch to one space. It took about a week to get used to, but now it comes easy. My husband agrees with yours though. Of course my husband doesn’t know what he’s talking about either. 🙂

    It seems that most books I look at only have one space.

    • katyupperman says:

      Men… Don’t you love how they’ll fight the good fight, even in the face of defeat? Gotta love ’em. 🙂

      (And yes, once I committed to the switch a few years ago, using one space came super easy.)

  3. Rebecca B says:

    I think it’s shifted from two spaces to one. I was taught two, and my mom still points that out whenever she reads something (retired English teacher!), but I work in a writing field and house style is one.
    Short answer: you’re right!

  4. Temre Beltz says:

    In law school I was an editor on our law review and we switched formatting from two spaces to one. I definitely learned two growing up and, sadly, am still sort of stuck on two even though I’m pretty sure one is the new accepted standard. This shows you what a creature of habit I am! Now am taking a bit more notice 🙂 I’m throwing my hat in for you, Katy!

    • katyupperman says:

      Yay! Thanks, Temre! I learned to use two as well, but surprisingly, converting to one wasn’t too difficult. Now, I’d never had it any other way. 🙂

  5. Ciara Knight says:

    Funny how writing has evolved so much over the last few years. Yes, for publishers want one space, but I still think it is easier to read with two spaces for personal letters. IMHO. Great topic.

  6. Jaime Morrow says:

    I was taught two spaces all through school, but in the past year I was told or read somewhere that publishers prefer only one. Maybe it saves paper? Not sure. Anyway, I had to go back all through my beast of a WiP and change it from two to one. Now I’ve sort of programmed myself to leave only one space. I don’t know, Katy, I think the one-spacers kind of out-rule the two-spacers. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I agree, Jaime! I learned to type two spaces, but since I started writing seriously, I converted to one. The switch, surprisingly, wasn’t too difficult to make. Thanks for your input, lady!

  7. Jennifer Pickrell says:

    I was taught two, but hear it’s one now. If you will note, there are two in this comment…haha…but it’s such a habit I figure it’s easier for me to type my MS that way and mass correct at the end with “find all.” The only place I use one is on Twitter b/c it takes up less space. But even then I have to really think about one NOT two.

    • katyupperman says:

      Yeah, I had to use the Find/Replace function with my very first manuscript too. I learned a little too late that publishers prefer one space. Now that I’ve converted, I’d never be able to go back. 🙂

  8. crystalschubert says:

    In school, all of my teachers insisted on two. Even through college. BUT! It was actually the Slate article that you linked to that made me change my two-spacing ways. Took me a while to get used to it, but now I’m a one-spacer–though I still have to do a “find all” in my MS to make sure I haven’t accidentally reverted back at any point. There’s always a few stragglers.

  9. Kristine Carlson Asselin says:

    I know I’ve already weighed in, but I’m weighing in again. It was SOOOO hard to make the transition, my fingers wanted to put in that double space, and even now I have to find and replace a bunch of them on final documents–it looks like there are a bunch of us here who do that! But I’m a firm believer that one space, in the age of technology (not typewriters) is the correct form.

    • katyupperman says:

      “I’m a firm believer that one space, in the age of technology (not typewriters) is the correct form.” <— Couldn't have said it better myself, Kris!

  10. Mrs. Silverstein says:

    I was taught two, and still do it reflexively, but I accept that I’m doing it wrong and will have to change if and when I start sending anything out. D’oh. (And Mr. S weighs in with some very recent law review editing experience in favor of one space, as well!)

  11. char says:

    Sigh! Why can’t people leave things alone? I was taught 2 and type so fast that I never think of spaces (2 goes in automatically and if I start having to correct that, I’m going to slow down. Ick). I have noticed the one space lately and summed it up to laziness (which texting has encouraged, I believe). I’ll admit from your comments that one space is the NEW rule. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I find a separation of 2 is much easier on my eyes for breaking up sentences.

    • katyupperman says:

      I used to think the same thing about greater separation between sentences, Char, but I’ve found that the more I see ONE space, the more appealing I find it. TWO spaces actually look odd to me now. Thanks for weighing in!

  12. Matt ("the Better Looking One") says:

    APA Style guide (6th Edition) apparently agrees that you should be “pro-choice” about your use of spaces after a period. Quit being so ultra-conservative, ladies. (note that my period is followed by two spaces 🙂 Alison Miller, I don’t owe her a beer…she owes me a dinner!

    Click to access 2010APAGuidelineChanges.pdf

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, Better Looking One… Thanks for commenting on my blog. Somehow, I feel like I’ve really made it now. And don’t forget: I made your dinner EVERY night. ♡

  13. Carrie-Anne says:

    I used to have NO spaces after periods and commas, until finally my parents wore me down with their common sense and I finally began putting in double spaces when I was 13 (in 1993). It just looks wrong to see only one space, though I now put only one space before or after a quote mark. I don’t like seeing too much space next to a quote mark.

  14. Janeal Falor says:

    I learned the double space after a sentence when I was growing up, but now do just one. It really makes sense to only need one now days in a computer world.

  15. Stephanie Allen says:

    I just found this post trapped within the recesses of my Google Reader (which is a frightening place at the moment…) and even though this debate is long over, I just wanted to chime in that students of my generation were never explicitly taught spacing for periods, but it was always just assumed that it was ONE space. I’m young enough that we did everything on computers starting in 2nd grade or so, so there’s that…

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, Steph… Thank you for your baby-faced perspective. We had computers when I was in elementary school, but they were huge and boxy and only good for Number Munchers and The Oregon Trail. 🙂

      Glad to have another ONE SPACE vote!

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