General Question

kfingerman's avatar

When typing something what is appropriate after a period - one space or two?

Asked by kfingerman (992points) July 1st, 2009

I’ve heard arguments on both sides…what do you think?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

DeanV's avatar

One. See?

I think two spaces look weird. But maybe that’s just me. I don’t know if it’s grammatically correct, though.

Grisaille's avatar

General rule is two spaces after a period. I always do because it’s a habit, though not many websites (like Fluther) show it.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i give her as much space as she wants after her period.

Facade's avatar

I’ve never heard of two spaces after a period.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I always thought that two spaces after a period is a leftover habit from those that learned on typewriters. On computers there’s no need for two, so when you’re taught on a computer you’re just taught to use just one (or I was at any rate!).

aliisyourfriend's avatar

Before computers were around the standard rule was two spaces. Since all of the characters on a typewriter were spaced the same, you inserted two spaces after a period [or semi-color, exclamation point, and so on] to make it clear that you were starting a new sentence.

That really doesn’t apply anymore, so one space is considered correct.

Little bit of dysfractionation there.

aliisyourfriend's avatar

Correction, “semi-colon” not “semi-color.” Not sure what kind of punctuation mark that is.

avalmez's avatar

as @aliisyourfriend writes, spacing after a period has changed over time. when i was in high school, two-spaces. most style guides these days call for one space.

also, note that old habits die hard

marinelife's avatar

As Helen Hayes said in “The Gin Game,” One, one, one, one.

whatthefluther's avatar

Well, I am relatively old (55), and was taught in typing class and in print shop to use two spaces. I bet print shop no longer exists…times do change. See ya.,....wtf

Les's avatar

I’m young (25) and I was always taught two spaces after a period. But I don’t think it matters anymore. I think both ways are accepted.

eambos's avatar

I’m young, yet I use 2 spaces after every period. Either works, but when you’re writing a 12+ page paper, every space counts =P

Les and I seem to have similar thoughts >.>

Les's avatar

@eambos: Creepy…

Nefily's avatar

I use two spaces since when I was taught to in public school. I am pretty sure either 1 or 2 spaces are considered correct.

DeanV's avatar

On a side note, I’m 15, and have always used one space after a period. But I could see 2 spaces could come in handy on term papers…

aliisyourfriend's avatar

The Chicago Manual of Style dictates that one space be used after a full stop. The MLA considers either one or two acceptable. The current GPO Style Manual specifically states that one space is to be used in all government documents—although that’s a departure from other editions that called for an em-space.

I tend to side with the Chicago Manual of Style as far as these sorts of things are concerned, but you’re not likely to be strung up if you stick in two. It just makes for inefficient typing, though.

Grisaille's avatar

@dverhey…Wait a mintue… you’re 15? Dude, you’re a damn-near prodigy, based on some of your answers.

whitenoise's avatar

Two (well. three) things….

1 The two spaces thing seemed to have been somewhat of an American thing and not necessarily a global truth.

2 Language is not governed by law (in most cases) and one should not worry too much about these kinds of details and choose your own style a bit as well.

3a Adobe Dreamweaver doesn’t allow two spaces in its standard configuration, that should be an indication.

3b People have done a lot of thinking on the topic, you should read the wikipedia lemma on it! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_spacing and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_stop#Spacing_after_full_stop.
:-)

augustlan's avatar

I can’t shake the habit of using two spaces. It’s how I was taught many years ago in typing class, and I still use it even though it doesn’t show up here. I’m pretty sure that the ‘new’ rules indicate that one space is correct.

robmandu's avatar

Well, for me, it’s always one – and only one – space after the period.

When you use a fixed-width typeface like this – and as @aliisyourfriend quip’d – the thinking is that it may be important to call out the full-stop end of a sentence to the reader by tossing in an extra space. At least, that’s my understanding. It’s not something I subscribe to.

Those of you who read a lot on the web might be interested to know that HTML is no respecter of whitespace. I can type as many spaces as I want in the text field, but only one of them shows up in the posted quip.

Like this:
Starting 100 spaces here =>| |<= done. Oh look, only one space appears in the quip.

Seems to me that the web standards committee long ago decided this topic. Now it’s just up to the rest of us to catch up.

bob's avatar

One space after a period is the norm. Two spaces is mostly OK, but if you need to publish a document in any professional setting, then one space is preferable. For one thing, it’s much easier to make sure all sentences have one space than two.

Cf. MLA, Chicago, and APA style guides—all of which prefer one space (though they acknowledge that two is acceptable in some contexts).

wilhel1812's avatar

One. That’s the right way to do it.

jrpowell's avatar

Hello                                                             World.

eambos's avatar

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

augustlan's avatar

@johnpowell Ok, give. How’d you do that?

wilhel1812's avatar

Like                                                           This.

robmandu's avatar

I knew someone would bust out the non-breaking-space char… thanks for complicating what was intended to be a simple answer.

jca's avatar

i was taught two (yes, on a typewriter) and old habits die hard. i do two. i think it looks better – easier to read. that’s just me.

arnbev959's avatar

When we first got a computer ten years ago my dad told me I was supposed to put two spaces after a period. I started then, and now it’s so deeply ingrained that I couldn’t not do it.

I once had a nutso teacher who would take points off it there were two spaces between sentences rather than one. I tried typing that way, but it was impossible. I had to type the whole thing normally (for me, with two spaces,) and then go back and remove the extra spaces manually.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

I was taught to use two spaces when I took typing in 7th grade, way back in 1961, and continued to do so until I learned that that was considered archaic and one space was preferred. So I switched from two to one. It was utterly painless for me. Old habits are hard to break but – come on, people! – if you can go to the gym every day, you can easily do this too.

I suspect that the reason for changing from two to one is that two looks good with monospaced text, as @robmandu so eloquently illustrated; all old typewriters were monospaced. Early computers were also monospaced but the Mac popularized proportional spacing and the rest is history. Proportionally-spaced typewriters never had much popularity; only the expensive IBM Executive was widely used. Not even the legendary IBM Selectric was proportional.

So how about this simple rule:
{ monospacing >> use two spaces | proportional spacing >> use one space }

gymnastchick729's avatar

Everyone who took typing class in high school learned that you always put two spaces after a period. The same goes for colons, questions marks, and exclamation points. Well, times have changed, and the two-space rule is dead.

Today, using just one space is correct. In BC times (Before Computers), printing presses and typewriters used letters that were all the same width. To help readers see that a new sentence was starting, we inserted two spaces. Today, computers compensate for the varying widths of letters. An “m” no longer takes up the same amount of space as an “i” does. Thanks to these proportional fonts, we no longer need that extra space.

taken from: http://www.writing911.com/writing/good-writing-tips/punctuation/one-space-after-a-period-or-two-weve-got-the-answer.html

Grisaille's avatar

In other words, you kids can take your one space after full stops, loud rap music, fancy cellular telephones and expensive clothes and shove it!

AND GET OFF MY LAWN

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@gymnastchick729 You said that “printing presses and typewriters used letters that were all the same width” but this is not correct in the case of printing presses. From day one, i.e., Johannes Gutenberg 600 years ago, movable type was proportionally spaced. Most likely, typewriters introduced the idea of monospaced type, not because it was better but because making a proportionally-spaced typewriter was a lot more complicated.

rebbel's avatar

 trick…....

augustlan's avatar

… or treat?

rebbel's avatar

@augustlan I, sort of, abused this thread to test my answers (the code) for the 20k party thread :-)

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