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January 14, 2011


Brenda Stewart

Re: two spaces after a period. Just who are these unnamed "typographers"? To quote your article, "What galls me about two-spacers isn't just their numbers. It's their certainty that they're right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the "correct" number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces."

That's because we were all taught to do this by our English teachers as the proper way to WRITE - not the proper way to compose reading material for printing. Did you ever consider that it's the typographers who are wrong? They are interested in saving space, not in the proper way to write. Ask any retired English teacher - not current ones - they wouldn't know the rules that the rest of us learned when education was education.

BTW - your comment box removed the double spaces that I properly used.


Thanks very much for your comment, Brenda.

I well recall, circa 1952, being told about the two-spaces rule--not by a teacher, but an older student reading one of my first typed manuscripts. I followed the rule through at least a million words of typescripts. I was ahead of the game--students in those days were taught writing as handwriting, and few 11-year-olds were typing.

But when I began to study how to write for and with computers, I learned the difference between monospace and variable fonts. Robin Williams's book The Mac is Not a Typewriter made the point very well, and that was how I taught my students.

Text display, both on screen and on paper, is an important part of readability. In my experience, one space after a period is normal in books and newspapers, and it looks fine (to me) in most computer-generated text as well. But if the display distracts the reader from following the message, then we should eliminate the distraction.

Surprised that you couldn't put two spaces after a period in your comment. I've put two spaces after each period here; let's see if they survive publication.


is there any research on readability re one vs. two spaces? i personally prefer two spaces after a sentence; it gives my eyes a place to rest. but who am i to talk. i've been an inveterate non-capitalizer since 1969 :)

Leila Taghavi

Hello Mr Kilian,
I enjoyed the comments and learned a lot.
Unfortunately, Your sites are censored here in Iran and I am able rarely to visit them.

Bill Swain

Thanks for clearing that up for me. I have been making 100's of websites this month and kept wondering what was correct, 1 or 2 spaces after a sentence.
I chose 1 space for the sake of search engine optimization, though I know nothing about html, I assumed that the search engines are programmed for the single space after sentences. I prefer the double space as I also like the rest for my eyes. But for search engine optimization, I use one space between sentences. Sometimes our preconceived ideas can block our progress in life's issues. This is just a minor issue compared to others. If anyone is interested in how an oxford moron like me with no html knowledge can make 250 websites in a month, go here.

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