Double Space vs. Single Space After a Period

Do you double space or single space after a period?

The big brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.  Then what?

The big brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Then what?

Which is correct?  A double space after the first sentence, or a single space?

I learned from a young whipper snapper student at UNCC that she was never taught to double space after a period. I was appalled and felt certain that she ended up on the short end of the stick for qualified teachers …every year of her whole life.  Okay, that’s not likely. But WHO has heard such nonsense?

Out to prove her wrong, I started asking around.

We were on vacation and I thought I’d ask Marc’s cousin, who is our age (ahem, we’ll go with around 40.) He said he’s never heard of double spacing; and another cousin who is 21, said the same.

Holy cow! That’s 3 people that apparently had unqualified teachers their whole educational life! Amazing!

I continued my quest to prove them wrong.

My 15 year old niece was the 4th person to inform me that she was never taught to double space after a period.

When did this rule go away? And why was I not informed?

Given the fact that typing classes haven’t been offered in most schools for generations, I have been concerned about young childrens’ ability to type with accuracy and speed. Since they’re getting their own laptops and tablets before they even learn to spell, I’ve witnessed kids (including my own) learn to type with the ‘ole “hunt and peck” approach. I decided years ago that I was going to have to hire someone to teach my son to type the correct way. I’ve cringed as I’ve considered how difficult it’s going to be for him to un-break the bad habits he’s created – as he learns the “old fashioned” way to type.

 Apparently, “old fashioned” is the precise word to describe myself and all of the people who still double space after a period. As I’m trying to determine when and why the shift to a single period, I came across this article.  The author actually says:

 

“ Try single spacing on your resume and emails if you want to avoid some unintended age discrimination.”

 

Dave Greenbaum goes on to further insult me (not intentionally, of course) by stating that most people who do double space are over 50 years old.

That hurts because I’m (ahem…) not even close to 50.

So, ouch! This is a generational gap that could also have big consequence for single-spacers. I say this because, I would automatically discredit a person’s ability to write if they emailed me or submitted a document with single spaces after a period.

Good thing that I know the rules have changed. I can keep an open mind, and won’t hold any contempt for all the single-spacers out there, now that I know. But look, it’s hard to teach a (ahem) 40-ish person new tricks, so just know that I, myself, will not be jumping on the single space bandwagon. We’re just going to have to co-exist.

If the single-spacers can refrain from pre-judging me as being “Old,” I will try to remember that not all single spacers are necessarily lazy or inaccurate.

 

What are your thoughts?  Is there a “right” or “wrong” way to space after a period?

5 Comments

  • Peggy Glassman says:

    Can you believe it? I just noticed that WordPress automatically single spaced this article. Ugh. Oh well, at least I won’t have to learn to single space…not that I intended to anyway! 😉

  • Phillip says:

    I’m 54. I originally learned to type on a manual typewriter 40 or so years ago, and my mother taught me to use two spaces after a full stop. 25 or 30 years ago, I learned the standard changed to single spaces. The explanation I remember was that, when combined with variable-pitch text, a single space looks more professional — more like typeset text. I think his is especially true if you fully justify text.

    On-line systems based on HTML combine multiple spaces into one, which is likely why your double-spaces are ineffective here.

    • Peggy Glassman says:

      Thanks Phillip!! I’ve started a firestorm. (Mainly on my personal pages b/c we’re relatively new (merger) and haven’t built a large FB or LI following yet. It’s funny, people are divided and feel so strongly one way or another. Appreciate you chiming in!

  • Aaron says:

    I’m in my early 40’s and I was always taught to double space after a period. I took keyboarding as a required class back in high school, which was on an electric typewriter. The technical writing class I took in college also emphasized the double space.

    There is an irony here too – if the double space is as dead as they say it is….why is it when you type something on an iOS device, and use a double space at the end of a sentence, t automatically inserts the period for you? It can’t be as dead as they report it to be….

  • Peggy Glassman says:

    That’s a great point Aaron, about the iOS. It had me wondering if my son was physically putting in the period when he uses his phone. I just had him text me a few sentences and I watched. He double-spaced to get the period. I said “So, you double space on your phone, but not on the computer!?” He said “Well, yes, because the computer doesn’t do the period for me!” (Oh well!)

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