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One space, or two?

There’s a controversy raging.  It’s so divisive, it threatens the stability of our tranquil household.  The issue at hand:  Do you type one space or two after each sentence?

I’m a two-spacer.  My husband does one.  Epic doesn’t begin to describe the battles we’ve had over this.  We even missed an episode of the Simpson’s arguing over it, and we are not arguers.  We usually just agree to disagree, though I think we’re both mostly too lazy to argue.

But this one.  Whoof.

So we’re taking it to the blog (poll under the jump!).

Here’s Ken’s argument:

“Grab any book or magazine off your shelf and look at the text. Notice how many spaces are between the sentences? One. Yet a great many people insist on using two spaces between sentences in their writing. This convention originated way back in the typewriter era, when all fonts were monospaced, meaning they took up the same amount of space on a page. So a lowercase “i” took up the same amount of space on a page as an uppercase “W.” Today, computerized fonts are proportional (unless you intentionally select a monspace font like Courier) so the spaces for each letter are determined by the width of the letter.

“This makes it much easier for the human eye to process words and sentences because our brain forms relationships between letters instead of reading them one at a time. Proportional fonts create the necessary visual separation between sentences so the extra space is no longer needed. I’m no typography expert but I often depend on the Chicago Manual of Style for basic guidelines. Chapter six, section three states: “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.

“Still not convinced? Here are a couple more good reasons to use one space between sentences: it saves paper and it saves a lot of spacebar strokes. I think even our old typing class instructors would agree that this make sense.”

Here’s my argument:

“I like the way a body of text looks with two spaces after each sentence.  I’ve been typing two spaces ever since being asked to do so in graduate school by an adviser.  The dude had like seven Ph.Ds and had published more articles than anyone else in the department, so I listened to him.

“I also dislike reading crunched up sentences.  Sometimes you need an extra space.

“Plus, I’m used to it.  No one’s ever shown me proof that two extra spaces have killed more trees.”

What’s your style: one space or two?  Take the poll and leave a comment on this weighty issue.

Image by emsvangoth [3].

About Kathleen Bolton [4]

Kathleen Bolton is co-founder of Writer Unboxed. She writes under a variety of pseudonyms, including Ani Bolton [5]. She has written two novels as Cassidy Calloway [6]: Confessions of a First Daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter--both books in a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President's teen-aged daughter, published by HarperCollins, and Tamara Blake, for the novel Slumber [7].