Double Spacing Between Sentences is Not Cool Anymore!

I never really learned how to type properly. I’m not horrible at it. I can type fairly fast but I only use about four fingers and a thumb to do so.

I remember learning that it was proper to hit the space bar two times at the end of each sentence. For typewriters this was an important rule. It also helped to do so if you had a dot-matrix printer (I did by the way).

The problem is that with the computer fonts we have these days two spaces can often look wrong. It can also lead to some weird formatting problems.

I have always written paragraphs with two spaces after each sentence. I’ve been doing so for years.

Whenever I publish something online, whether it be a blog entry or a comment, I always check to make sure it looks okay. Sometimes the double space causes formatting problems and actually fragments a perfectly good paragraph.

I subscribe to an agent’s blog and he had a post on there a few weeks back about what was proper – one space or two. Most people voted that one space was better. I voted for two and decided that there was nothing wrong with it. I wasn’t going to change.

But then I decided that it might be good to change my habits to reflect the times. It has been hard to change. I always hit that space bar twice. So all week I have been going back and deleting one of the spaces. This is taking up a lot of time. Maybe after a while I will just automatically only insert one space. Or perhaps I am forever doomed to filling in that extra space for the rest of my life.

Editors will painstakingly have to delete all those spaces. They will curse at me and my old school ways. Or maybe I will get it. Does it even matter though? What do you think?

24 thoughts on “Double Spacing Between Sentences is Not Cool Anymore!

  1. Hi Chase,

    I’m going to have to say 2, too. As I was typing this I made a conscious effort of what I did, and after the saying hi, I hit the enter key twice.

    Old habits are hard to break, hey?

  2. Okay, with me now that brings the totals to

    2 spaces – 3 votes

    1 space – 0 votes

    If you are reading this, please drop a comment with your vote. I want to get more of a consensus here.

    Thanks,

    Chase

  3. My vote is 2. I think tradition is good. Plus, I like the way it looks, though your point about it looking wrong with various fonts is interesting.

  4. Hi Lisa, Barbara, and Silverfish,

    Thanks for weighing in on this issue. Old habits are hard to break and tradition is nice. I guess there is nothing wrong with two spaces.

    Current Stats:

    2 spaces – 4 votes

    1 space – 0 votes

    Anyone else care to vote?

  5. i double space out of habit, but sometimes it throws the paragraph off, so i single space. at this point, i don’t even care, i do whatever. when it becomes important, hopefully i’ll have an editor by then. 🙂

  6. Hi Natural,

    So far it seems like all of us double space out of habit or tradition. I guess it doesn’t really matter though, does it.

    Thanks for weighing in here.

  7. Just a quick observation. I think at least one person here is confused about 2 horizontal spaces between periods and adding 1 blank vertical space between paragraphs. I know they both start with P, but they are otherwise quite different.

    Also, everyone may be adding in 2 spaces between sentences here, but your blogging system does not allow that. If you analyze all of the comments here, you will notice that every sentence is followed by 1 space. Blogspot oh-so-conveniently removes them for you.

    Tradition for tradition’s sake is futile. Two spaces simply looks bad in today’s electronic documents. You may still argue for 2 spaces when things are printed — it may actually make a difference — but when things are posted online and have 2 spaces after sentences it looks dated and ridiculous.

  8. Hi Anonymous,

    I never noticed before that Blogger automatically gets rid of the two spaces. I just went back and checked my old entries and sure enough, you’re right. I guess I must have noticed the formatting errors when commenting on Word Press blogs. Interesting.

    Thanks for weighing in on the subject too. I think 2 spaces still looks good in print but I am slowly getting won over for only one space online.

  9. I have always used a double space between sentences. I found this blog after googling to see if there was a grammatical “rule” on this. I disagree that there is anything “wrong” with double spacing – though when putting text together for a publication, I accept that perhaps publication software (online or print) these days will handle the “look” and formatting of the text, so they don’t like double spaces. For text that is not “properly” laid out for print (like emails, or a simple Word doc), I think double spacing looks much better – it helps the eye to distinguish the start of a new sentence and makes the text easier on the eye to read.

  10. Hi Jax,

    I took that same course and it was hard for me to break the habit too. I still hit that space bar twice at times as well. Oh well.

  11. Probably a really ignorant question coming from an author, however, I am currently in the process of writing a manuscript for my first novel and I had a question about double spacing. Right after you commence a new chapter in your novel and you are using double spacing, how many spaces after the chapter heading do you begin your writing? I know dumb question, but don't ream me too much please! My email is razzorbrock80@yahoo.com and I look forward to your response.

  12. Hi Razzor,

    I don't think that is a dumb question at all. Just keep in mind that a manuscript is different than a final, published novel.

    This site http://www.onlineoriginals.com/showitem.asp?itemID=27 suggests leaving "three blank lines before the heading and two blank lines after the heading."

    I don't think it really matters unless your agent or publisher has specific guidelines set. I think you should just write it.

    I like to centre my Chapter titles and place them in 14 point font and in bold. I also use page breaks for each new chapter. This is just a personal preference. I do it because it is easier to edit this way. Plus it will also be easier to find the chapter headings and fix them later if need be.

    I hope that helps.

    Good luck with your novel.

  13. As far as the *Rule* is concerned – I think it is a load of rubbish. I ALWAYS use two spaces – amd it doesn't screw up the flow of type on the page nor does it look ridiculous. Moreover, irrespective of what so-called professional typesetters do, you need to consider that using additional spaces efectively uses more paper for the same amount of text – so that is probably an economic argument rather than an aesthetic one.

  14. Hi Rob,

    Save the planet, save your spaces and save paper! This could move beyond economic reasons into environmental ones.

    Thanks for your input and your comment.

  15. On the web, I always place "& nbsp;" (without the space between the ampersand and the nbsp;) plus a space character at the end of each sentence to make the browser display two spaces.

  16. I was taught to double space, because I began on a typewriter, than moved to an old style PC. I still do it because, to me it shows a break in the sentence. We put a space between words, commas, etc. So, something should emphasize the new sentence. I started one spacing, because younger people told me that is not what they teach anymore! Then I started school and my professor is roughly of my generation and she requested are papers be done in double space between sentences. I guess choose your audience, and space to them, LOL!!!

  17. Hi Anon of January 9th,

    Great point about the audience.

    I have a friend in university now and her professor circles any accounts of double spacing. It's a habit that we can easily fall back into.

    Thanks for the comment!

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