Two spaces at end of sentence

Subject: Two spaces at end of sentence
From: Stan Brown <stbrown -at- NACS -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 1996 14:00:45 -0500

Virginia L. Krenn <asdxvlk -at- OKWAY -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU> asks for opinions on
some statements, among them this one:

> BTW, no one uses double spacings anymore. One of the little things
> I learned in writer's school.

and this variation:

> When using mono-spaced fonts, as with a
> typewriter, or for most telecommunications applications, then you
> double-space between sentences. This has been a rule almost since
> the typewriter was invented.

I used to do that, out of habit. But then I read Robert Bringhurst's
lovely book, _The Elements of Typographic Style_. In it he says, in

In the nineteenth century, which was a dark and inflationary age
in typography and type design, many compositors were encouraged to
stuff extra space between sentences. Generations of twentieth-
century typists were then taught to do the same, by hitting the
spacebar twice after every period. Your typing as well as yyour
typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint Victorian
habit. As a general rule, no more than a single space is required
after a period, colon, or any other mark of punctuation. Larger
spaces (e.g., en spaces) _replace_ punctuation.

That last sentence seems persuasive to me. So I looked at books that
had been carefully typeset in the good old days of hot metal, and sure
enough: the space between sentences was usually the same as that
between words.

It was surprisingly easy, I found, to unlearn the "quaint Victorian
habit"; and now I much prefer the look of proportional and even
monospaced text without extra space after sentences. Particularly
after periods, which in a monospaced font are virtually all space, two
extra spaces seems to me like far too much.

Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems Cleveland, Ohio USA +1 216 371-0043
email: stbrown -at- nacs -dot- net Web:

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