The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Did I double space or single space after the period? Do you know why it matters?
Double Space Nostalgia
The year is 1984. Wrapped in orthodontia and self-doubt, a 14 year-old sits down at a manual typewriter to learn typing. Not keyboarding – typing. The room was divided in half by manual typewriters and Selectrics. Yes, the 14 year old is me. I had to settle for the manual my first week in class. That was my introduction to typing. Trust me when I tell you that you have to practically pound the keys with a mallet to get a manual typewriter to strike the page.
Here’s the thing, though: all the letters looked exactly the same. They took up the same amount of space on the page as every other letter. The proportionally spaced fonts became the standard for typewriters once they began to really catch on. So, visually, if you wanted your reader to understand that you were actually starting a new sentence, the extra space gave them the visual clue. We readers like visual clues.
Double Space or Single Space?
I can tell you are older than 30 by whether you double space or single space after a period. Blame the Selectric.
Here’s why single space is the standard now:
- True Type Fonts – We no longer have proportional fonts, with exception of Courier. The letters you see in typeface take up the amount of space they need. So, a 1 takes up less space than a D.
- Rivers of White – Read the text of a double space typer. There are long trails throughout the document of white space that serve no purpose. When I’m reading it, it’s all I can see. Giant spaces separated by words.
- Junky Code – In HTML and other “web” languages, that extra space is a piece of code. If you copy and paste a double spaced paragraph into your webpage, it’s going to look weird and act funny.
- It Drives Your Humble Editor Insane – Every single sentence. Click. Backspace. Click. Backspace. Click. INSANE. (I know there are shortcuts for this. But STILL.)
A Hard Habit To Break
It sucks to try to break this habit. It took me a long time. You can do it. I promise. Once you do, you’ll see double space everywhere and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.