Make Spaces with Grammar Punk

One Space or Two

I can’t remember the price date that I learned that the proper way to separate sentences was now with one space not two but it was a fairly momentous one—in the grand scheme of things sort of way.

I read an article recently which strongly derided those stubborn and obviously misguided folk who still insist on those two spaces. Enough already! Why hit that space bar more times than is necessary.

“Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Ilene Strizver, who runs a typographic consulting firm The Type Studio, once wrote. “When I see two spaces I shake my head and I go, Aye yay yay,” she told me. “I talk about ‘type crimes’ often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment. It’s a pure sign of amateur typography.” “A space signals a pause,” says David Jury, the author of About Face: Reviving The Rules of Typography. “If you get a really big pause—a big hole—in the middle of a line, the reader pauses. And you don’t want people to pause all the time. You want the text to flow.”

And there’s the thing with type being more precise and fonts doing a better job of evening things out, and blah, blah, blah. The thing is, it’s a tough habit to break. I tend to write a lot—then and now—and since much of my writing went off to be perused by others, and those others had definite ideas about one space versus two, I jumped on the bandwagon pretty quickly. But it was not easy. My thumb wanted to hit the space bar twice in quick succession just as it had ALWAYS done. And I couldn’t blame it.

It’s just that I’d been doing it the other way for sooooo long. How was I to be expected to stop doing something I barely had  conscious thought of doing in the first place? It just wasn’t reasonable. Except once started doing it, it really did look better. And
it was faster. And I suddenly couldn’t see the reason for those two spaces in the first place. Because when it came right down to it this was a particular party I was just as happy to join. Those two spaces left erroneously in documents now tend to…irritate me. They’re disjointed, they’re bumpy, they’re unattractive, and they are distracting. Because they’re wrong, they’re just wrong!

So stop spacing twice between sentences, get out of the habit now. Believe me, your readers, your future editors, and your thumb will thank you. After all, it needs all the help it can get, what with all that texting and gaming…

Teachers of English, grammar, and writing, fess up, how many times does your thumb hit the space bar? What do your students think? Discuss, write about it, and share.