One Space or Two At the End of a Sentence?
I was always taught to double-space at the end of a sentence. I recently began working in a law office where I was surprised to find that many of the attorneys . . . do not follow this practice, even when drafting formal contracts and documents. Is double-spacing at the end of a sentence a strict rule, judgement call or just old-fashioned punctuation?
Bob Dylan said it, Susan: “The Times They Are a-Changin’
Back when we used typewriters there was a reason to space twice at the end of the sentence.
It’s not so necessary now.
This is what the Gregg Reference says about it:
Now that the standards of desktop publishing typically apply to all documents produced by computer, the use of one space is recommended after the punctuation that occurs at the end of a sentence. Yet this standard should not be mechanically applied.
In all cases, the deciding factor should be the appearance of the breaks between sentences in a given document. If the use of one space does not provide enough of a visual break, use two spaces instead.
The Chicago Manual of Style says it not once, but three times:
A period marks the end of a declarative or an imperative sentence. It is followed by a single space
A single character space, not two spaces, should be left after periods at the ends of sentences (both in manuscript and in final, published form)
In typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence, whether a period, a colon, a question mark, an exclamation point, or closing quotation marks.
So, Susan, one space, not two. And that, according to the CMS, goes not just for periods, but for “any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence.”
I’ve know about the new practice for a very long time now, but I still hit the spacebar twice more often than not.
Want to improve your English in 5 minutes a day? Click here to subscribe and start receiving our writing tips and exercises via email every day.
Recommended Articles for You
Subscribe to Receive our Articles and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!