One Space, Not Two

Jan 14 2011 @ 4:58pm

After this past week, it's time to address a truly burning issue in our culture: the double space after a period. In a thoroughly enjoyable rant, Farhad Manjoo begs his e-mailers to lay off the spacebar:

The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences. That convention was not arrived at casually. James Felici, author of the The Complete Manual of Typography, points out that the early history of type is one of inconsistent spacing

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It's one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. 

Says one expert:

I talk about 'type crimes' often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment. It's a pure sign of amateur typography.

Megan erupts:

Let me just add: if you're spending time worrying over whether my emails contain one or two spaces, you need to ask them to let you out of the asylum more often so you can pursue a more interesting hobby.  I double space after sentences because I learned to type on a manual typewriter, and it's not worth the effort to retrain myself.

Tom Lee dissents.