Writing about Writing

Single Space vs Double Space

In my search for an editor, I happened upon a piece of advice on manuscript submission – always use single spaces after a period. I’d heard about the single space vs double space battle, yet even though I’d heard about it, I’d never really thought about how it might affect my own work.

According to an article on Slate.com, typographers decided on the single space long ago. It is recommended by both the Chicago Manual of Style, and the Modern Language Association Style Manual.  However, due to typewriters and their monospaced fonts, double spaces became the norm in the interest of readability.

Monospaced fonts are few and far between these days, however, so why do we still double space? With modern fonts it isn’t required for readability anymore. The truth is – it is a waste of both space (consider a book or magazine publisher – space is money – so best to save it any way possible!) and keystrokes (think how many keystrokes you could save a day, a week, or a year).

For me, it is pure habit. When I learned how to type on keyboarding class, it was drilled into our heads to use two spaces after a period. My thumb taps that spacebar twice before I even have time to think about it. Muscle memory is fast!

So where do my readers stand? Single or double?

I know I’m been firmly on the double space bandwagon for years, but I’m switching now, as hard as it is.


P.S. In spite of attempting not to – I still double spaced after every single period while writing this post, except for this one (I hope). 

P.P.S. Whoever came up with the Find/Replace function is a lifesaver! Fixed thousands of double spaces in less than a minute, whew!


2 responses

  1. I have always been a single-spacer, because double-spacing always looks like it’s empty space. In the day of digital media and paper conservation, that’s the way of the future!

    August 28, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    • Haha good man! I’m trying to break the habit because I know it’s the right thing to do but it’s hard 🙂

      August 28, 2014 at 5:11 pm

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