One or Two Spaces After a Full Stop?


Suppose you’re writing something and come to a point where you need to use a period to make a full stop. Do you use two spaces after the period, or do you use one space? I’ve always been a two-spacer; however, some recent perusing of the 'net suggests to me that the two-space full stop has been rendered obsolete by modern technology. Plus, MS Word has a fit when I end a quoted passage with an ellipsis followed with the period and the closing quote, and then follow it with two spaces. I haven’t yet figured out why.

So, I’m wondering what the SDMB community member may have to say on this exciting & thrilling topic.

I’ve always done two spaces after a period, in order to set it apart from a comma, colon or semi-colon, where there should be only one.


Two spaces. It helps take some strain off they eyes just like paragraphs help make a long text more readable.

Go to Tools/Options/Spelling & Grammar/settings and you can set a requirement for 2 spaces between sentences, or tell it not to check at all.

I’ve always done two spaces, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why. At some point in my lifetime, somebody must have told me that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

If you’re using an old-fashioned typewriter, two spaces. On a computer, just one. Word processing programs automatically set the sentence spacing correctly with one space. There’s no need for the second.

Good to hear. In the editing work I do I’m always correcting the two, three and four-spacers who IMO are only trying to make their text look longer.

Now I know about this little trick it’ll make my job much easier.

Wow. I’ve never in my life heard of anyone putting two spaces after a period. It seems so labor-intensive, sheesh.

Well, your thumb is already there at the space bar, and once it is automatic, it takes no real effort at all. :slight_smile:

When I took typing class in 1974 we were taught to use two spaces after a full stop (period or colon). However, if you look at typeset material even from that era, it does not look like there is that much space. Today, with proportional fonts available to everybody, it is often not considered necessary to use two spaces.

Here is how the Chicago Manual of Style weighs in on the subject.

FWIW, if you’re hand coding in HTML, two or more spaces will get rendered as a single space unless a non-break code ( ) is used.

Me too.

And I don’t use word processors that ever, under any circumstance, think they are entitled to have a fit over anything I do except quit out of the application with unsaved document windows open.

I’m also a one-spacer, unless I’m typing in Courier. Same proportional-font explanation as given above.

It drives me nuts because everyone here at the law firm uses two spaces for correspondence. I mounted a campaign for a while when I first started here to try to explain why this was no longer necessary. My effort was met with a lot of, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it, so…”

I still one-space any correspondence that I send out. Harumph.

I don’t know what word-processing programs you guys are using or what fonts, but none of the fonts I’ve tried automatically make one-space-after-a-period look “right.” They all look like there’s one space. It’s hard to read. So, I always put two spaces.

  1. I was told to use two spaces when I started writing for an English-language MUD. It’s a text-based game… what you write is descriptions of what people see. Fixed font, left-justified only. Emphasizing the space after a period helps readability.

  2. In Spanish you use one space only.

  3. Anywhere except the MUD, I use one space but I also use that wonderful, wonderful tool known as double justification whenever I can. I’m a speed reader - I read a whole line at a time, not a letter or a word at a time. Double justification helps readability so much it’s unbelievable. And it’s the computerized version of what i was taught to do when handwriting, which probably helps explain why I find it easier to read a well-aligned paragraph where some words are split in two lines than a left-justified one. Apparently it’s less common for Anglos, everybody to whom I’ve had to explain the use of that button was English or American but I’ve never seen a text from a Frenchman, Italian or Hispanic that wasn’t double-justified.

Two spaces. I recently had a friend ask me about that – he said he’d been to a “writing class” and the instructor told the class to use only one space. I do a lot of editing for him, and I’ve preached that it’s TWO spaces. Why? More white space makes it easier to read. It distinguishes it as a new sentence. And, why the hell should anyone be bugged if two spaces are used? Same rationale as the paragraph – a whole bunch of text with no white space is harder to read. But then, I learned my grammar, punctuation, and syntax at a time when such things were considered important. I haven’t noticed that the font makes any difference.

I was taught to use two spaces after periods and colons when I was taking typing class in high school. These days, I only follow the rule when using an evenly spaced font like Courier.

I only ever leave one space after a full stop. I think the two-space version looks like a typo and is thus harder to read.

I always use two spaces after a period. (See?) The style at the newspaper where I work is only one space.

A former boss used to put 3, 4 or maybe even 5 spaces after a full stop. Drove me bonkers: I’d sneak into her documents with the codes revealed and take them out . . .