Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Proper usage of periods: One space or two?

As a dinosaur who wrote the first chapters of her Ph.D. dissertation on a manual typewriter, I grew up leaving two spaces after every period. But times have changed, and today I leave only one space between a period and the new sentence that follows it.

The two spaces made sense when we used typewriters with monospacing, as Grammar Girl explains in "How many spaces after a period?" But now that we've switched to proportional fonts, one space has become the standard.

If you feel passionately that we should use two spaces, you've got company, as you'll see in "How Many Spaces After a Period: One or Two?"

More posts about punctuation:
* How to punctuate bullet-pointed lists
* Bloggers' top two punctuation mistakes

Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved


  1. Despite my youthful appearance, I learned to type on an IBM Model C. Back then we used two spaces following periods at the end of sentences.

    The "ah-ha" moment for me was when I realized no matter how many spaces I placed between a period and the first word of a new sentence, HTML browsers always used one space between the characters.

    Ever since then I've been trying to break the habit of quickly pressing the space bar twice after finishing sentences. It's easier said than done.

  2. Bill,

    You really learned to type on a typewriter like me?

    I agree it's easier said than done to change from two spaces to one. Writing for a weekly publication cured me of the two-space habit.


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