There is No Debate. One Space After A Period Unless Typesetting in A Monospace Font.


I came across a post on a random blog that sparked me to write the following comment. Cross-posted there as well.

There is a well known trait in psychology that says that the ignorant are not aware of their ignorance. Usually, you can feel sorry for them, but when they actually start proclaiming their ignorance is truth and/or debatable (and anybody who can’t think of three examples from the daily headlines is probably just that ignorant), then one feels pushed into the role of offering the truth like you might offer a vegetable to a child. Chances are they won’t like it because the child is more interested in reinforcing their own will than in the actual food. That doesn’t mean the vegetable is any less good for them.

Simply: double spaces after periods are because monospaced typefaces make it difficult to find the ends of sentences when reading. Professional typesetters of the past 100 years (since the standardization and acceptance of an amazing machine called the typewriter), would remove those double spaces when setting the lead type that would print our proud heritage in beautiful typefaces made by artistic souls entrusted with the daunting task of maintaining legibility. With the technology given us by the incredible advances of computation, you — that’s right you — are now your own typesetter.

Here’s the rule: when setting type in a monospaced typeface, such as Courier, use double spaces. Otherwise, use single spaces. If your video-game trained fingers cannot undo their tacky double tapping, modern computation has also offered a tremendous tool called “search and replace.”

There is no argument here. Typesetters and professional typographers have known this forever. Now you are admitted to their club. Please stop spilling your punch on the nice carpet.

Also, broccoli, kale, carrots and peas.

(Photo by Flickr user Lan Bui)


Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: May 18, 2009 06:19 PM
Love this post! I always learn from you.
I completely agree with you. Double spacing is a ridiculous concept in the digital age. However, I don't fully understand your final line: "Also, broccoli, kale, carrots and peas." Please can you explain the reference so I can stop Googling it?
@Ady, the line was a return to the first paragraph where I joked about vegetables being good for children.
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