/ Writing

The two-space debate

There is a battle being waged, and most of the world is wondering why. Every so often I come across somebody who argues, "The modern world agrees, only one space should come after a period." And they feel very strongly about this, arguing with the vehemence of a crusader!

I had one friend tell me that the consensus is in, and anything arguing aginst one space is like tilting at windmills. Seriously? Then there are the rational rest of us.

Many assertions are made, usually revolving around typography, typewriters, courier font and the like. The problem here lies in the partial information being presented. Regardless of what style guide X may say, style guide Y generally says otherwise. And style guides change monthly anyway.

There is a very good explanation (from archive.org). of all the details behind this at the Heraclitean River blog, so I will not dig too deep into the details, but I urge you to review that information if you feel strongly one way or the other.

Suffice it to say, in summary, as long as layout has existed there has been, "additional space" after a period. This is a good thing as it helps us to denote the end of a sentence, especially if you are a speed reader (as I am). Furthermore, the modern software that renders layout of a document can easily address this spacing challenge automatically, so really, it just isn't that big of a deal.

My suggestion is to follow the general style guides I have found that assert, "use one or two spaces, whichever is your preference, but keep it consistent."

My preference is two spaces when I write.

If you use a modern word processor that supports regular expressions in a search and replace (such as LibreOffice), you can also easily switch using a regex:

\. +

And replace it with a period and one or two spaces as you desire.

Stop making this an issue people. Please. Just because you like it doesn't mean other people are wrong.

Brandon Gillespie

Brandon Gillespie

Brandon loves Tech and has a breadth of experience including hands-on Implementation and Leadership Roles across many companies including small startups, enterprises, and the USAF.

Read More