Coke or Pepsi? Apple or PC? Marvel or DC?
There are lots of big rivalries out there that people feel strongly about. But Microsoft may have just ended the biggest one of all: two spaces after a period… or just one?
What the heck are we talking about? In a recent update, Word started marking two spaces after a period as incorrect. If you use Word and haven’t experienced this yet, you likely will soon.
Those who have been using only one space between sentences for years, congratulations. You won! This is your moment! Vindication!
But don’t feel sad if you were on Team Two-Space. You fought a good fight. And you had history on your side!
Once upon a time, style manuals across the board recommended two spaces after a period. In recent years, however, things have changed. (APA Style was the last holdout, but even they have moved to one space in their most recent edition.)
We won’t full-on dive into the history of two spaces versus one in typing here. (The Chicago Manual of Style has a lengthy post on the topic from the end of March, if you’re interested.)
Suffice it to say that two spaces became a thing when we were all using typewriters. Because the extra space made it easier to tell when one sentence ended and another began due to the font and spacing typewriters used. But with computer-based fonts, this is no longer necessary.
What does this mean if you still feel strongly about using two spaces between sentences?
Unlike most other grammar rules, whether you decide to use one or two spaces between sentences doesn’t really impact meaning or understanding. In fact, there has been at least one study that found two spaces improved readability… particularly among people who prefer having two spaces!
Regardless, if you pay attention to what the various style manuals (and now even typing software!) are doing, the world is moving in the direction of having only a single space. You can buck this trend and likely not suffer any consequences. But you should be aware that you are bucking a trend.