Home
People of Earth, enough with the double spacing at the end of a sentence!

If you learned to type on an actual typewriter, odds are you were taught to put two spaces at the end of a sentence. Why? It has nothing to do with grammar, and everything to do with typefaces and readability.

Back in the days of letterpress, printing text involved a typesetter placing individual letters into words, rows and eventually pages. The reversed letters were then inked, and pressed directly onto the page. (Think a giant, heavy, complicated, metal stamp.) For spaces between words and sentences, they used blank pieces of metal called type slugs. Printers would use larger type slugs between sentences to give an extra visual pause after a period. Everything was fine and dandy until the typewriter came along.

Typewriters used monospaced fonts. Monospaced typefaces are fixed-width. Each character — letters, numbers, punctuation and spaces — takes up the exact same horizontal width. There was concern that typewriter text would be more difficult to read since there was no extra space at the end of a sentence. BAM! LIke that, the double space after a period rule was born. It was an easy fix, problem solved.

This is a monospaced font. See how the letters all line up?

Now enter the computer.

Computers use proportional typefaces. Proportional typefaces automatically adjust the spacing between the letters — called kerning. A proportional typeface will recognize terminal punctuation, like a period, and automatically adjust the spacing.

This is a proportional font. The letters don't line up because the computer is adjusting the space between each character.

Let’s repeat that.

A proportional typeface will recognize terminal punctuation, and automatically adjust the spacing.

In other words, the computer will add extra space at the end of a sentence for you. Putting your own double space at the end of a sentence adds too much space. This stands out like a sore thumb to designers. We either have to go through pages of copy manually removing the spaces or do a blanket find/replace, and hope we don’t seriously jack up your text elsewhere. (Yeah, that’s right. We get rid of your extra spaces anyway.

So please, don’t push a designer to the brink. Unless you’re typing on an old IBM Selectric, stop double spacing at the end of a sentence.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s