Monday, April 22, 2013

Need Space?

Last week I celebrated my birthday and entered the end of yet another decade.  Now, although I often feel (and have been told, look) younger than I am, there are certain things that make me feel old.  For example:
  • receiving a holiday card from a former student...and their spouse...and their 3 kids.
  • finding myself gagging at the thought of eating a frosted Pop Tart.
  • hearing the songs that were hits when I was in college on the classic rock station.
  • spotting my favorite childhood toy in an antique store.
  • discovering that the children who were born the day I graduated from high school can now legally buy alcohol.
  • and the list goes on and on...
However, the newest addition to the list shocked me to my core.  Let me set the scene...

You are typing a sentence.  You type a period.  And then before you start the next sentence, how many spaces do you add?

My answer is 2.  That is how I was taught.

The young whipper-snappers I questioned about it said 1. 

My reaction?  They are "no-good hippies" and I said, "Get off my lawn!"

Anyway.  In all seriousness, I did a little research and learned that although I was taught to insert 2 spaces, that is because I was taught on a typewriter.  I was taught before different fonts existed.

According to a recent article on, "With the dawn of computers, word processing programs not only began offering an absurd number of fonts, but each font was programmed to space characters proportionally (“l” takes up about a third of the space “w” does). In turn, most computer fonts will automatically give you enough room between sentences with one space. So, as a rule of thumb, use just one space when typing up your manuscript on a computer."

I had no idea.

I'm not sure that this old dog can be taught a new trick.  It is kind of second nature to insert that second space. 

What about you?  One space or two?  I am curious to find out.


  1. One - since I had classes on typography (back when it was still done by hand) I could see the difference as soon as someone finally configured the spacing digitally! Think of the new trick you must learn as a rule on writing style, like leaving out the some of the adjectives!

  2. That is right, Marcie! It changed. The world became more crowded...we are now allowed to crowd our words. One of the subjects I taught is computer and that is the way it is taught nowadays. In fact, I am so tuned in to one space, that two spaces just jumps out at me and I want to tell the author-just one thumb tap, please! Now it's second nature for me to insert just one space...and I'm a lot older dog than you! You can learn the trick and your "treat" will be the knowledge that you are spacing correctly!

  3. I read that same article. I grew up with 2 spaces too. It's been a challenge re-training my thumb to stop at one press of the space bar. Even as I typed this I had to go back and delete the extra space I inserted after the period.

  4. Aaargh! I am curiously irked that you found validation for my high-schooler's claim that 1 space is currently correct. This comment has 2 after each sentence. I guess that puts me in the Old Dogs' Club. BTW, happy birthday! It only gets better from here.

  5. I was taught 2 spaces as well, but I think SCBWI got me into the one space habit.

    Still. I find it helpful to do a global "Search and Replace" on my drafts in order to ferret out all the 2 spacers that still sneak in when I am writing quickly!

  6. Hah Marcie! Well since my son is old enough to legally buy alcohol, that implies I am way older than you. I got into the "space after a period" discussion not that long ago. I had never heard of two spaces, never took a typing class, but never typed that way, and no one told I was doing it wrong in all the papers I handed in at college. :)

  7. I totally feel you on this. I have to fight with every fiber of my being to not put 2 spaces at the end of a sentence because I too was taught on a typewriter. I just did it now, right there, even though I told myself I wouldn't!!

  8. My iPad sort of taught me to put one, but it always feels wrong. I'm still struggling. Your post helps. Maybe I won't need a 12 step program after all.

  9. I 'failed' a job interview several years ago because I used 2 spaces. "That hasn't been used in years," the employer stated. I walked out of there feeling like a horse too long in the tooth.

    I do one now, but it was a long process to get used to it.

  10. Yes, I use 1 space now. I, too, was taught 2 spaces on a type writer in high school :) Fun post.

  11. I used to put 2, until someone directed me to an online article about the history of typography, and I realized it really should only be 1. Took a little fighting to stop the habit, but now it feels normal.

  12. I also was taught to use two spaces,but my word program underlines it with the bright red line, like I'm committing a crime.So I looked it up and yes,one is correct.But I think the two spaces looks spacier.

  13. Yes I was also taught that two spaces should be used after a period. But my word program added that squiggly red line as if I had committed a horrible error.I looked it up and discovered one is the correct way.I still prefer two, it's spacier and it gives the reader a chance to ponder.

  14. Marcie, one, but I learned two also in school, since I too was taught on a typewriter.

  15. I try to use one when I remember. But I default to two (because I'm that old). :-)

  16. One space. I never learned to type properly so that's quite enough for me.

  17. This is so funny because I started transitioning to one space a couple weeks ago and it is so hard! My rebellious fingers just add that other space all on their own.

    Happy Birthday! So you're 30 now?