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One space after a period. Not two. Here’s why.

Many people still put two spaces after a period. “That’s what my English teacher taught me,” they say.

The practice is a holdover from the era of the typewriter when characters all took up the same amount of space. For example, an “i” took exactly the same amount of space as an “m.”

So the rule was two spaces after a period to help signal a new sentence to the reader.

With the advent of word processing, characters are now spaced proportionally. There is no longer a need to put two spaces after a period. One will do.

Yet today, I often see web content with two spaces after a period. This creates text with gaps and makes it a little harder to read. It also looks a tad unprofessional.

It’s not a really big deal, but paying attention to this kind of detail will help elevate your website above your competition.

Interestingly, I find young people making this mistake just as much as the older generation.

It’s fascinating how practices are still handed down long after they have become obsolete.

Remember, when writing your web copy and other documents, just put one space after a period.


Katherine Andes, our SEO consultant, is a web specialist who focuses on copywriting for SEO (search engine optimization) for websites. She is the co-author with Matt Pinto of the best selling Catholic apologetic flash cards, Friendly Defenders. Ramp up your company's online impact with her weekly Easy Web Tips.


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  • Jann FritzHuspen

    Thanks Katherine!

    As and editor this makes my job MUCH easier! Hear that writers? You want to be aware of current writing rules and this is a major one!

    • FrankieG

      I refuse. I prefer my two periods and I will continue to use them happily. 🙂

  • mediaslideshows.com

    if your talking of word processor ur right, but for example on facebook messages or even cellphone text, it’s not true. so u may clarify specifically as the whole article makes a gray area in the first place

    http://www.MediaSlideshows.com

  • nbontempo

    If you align to the left then double spacing after periods is still the correct method and should be as I am sure FRANKIEG is urging. If you justify to the center as in a newspaper or magazine article then the single space is acceptable. Since most students do not justify to the center, but still align left, I will also insist on a double-space after periods.

  • Katherine Andes

    To nbontempo … I never heard of justifying center. Interesting. But I know that two spaces with left justification still looks awful. So I’ll stick to my guns.

  • But my 10th-grade typing teacher is infallible on matters of style and punctuation – has there been a Magisterial statement about this?

  • wmeyer

    Katherine, besides being entirely correct on what should be done, your explanation of the roots of the practice is historically accurate. Except that if it was the English teacher, then it came from the MLA style rules, which by now are very dated.

    Here’s another tip, and a peeve. I often copy long articles to Word for reading on paper later. I do this in part because I find it tedious to read for long periods from a screen. I have found that many sites’ text, copied into word, uses soft returns for paragraph separators. In HTML, it makes no difference, but in Word, it makes of the document one long paragraph. The result is that if I apply a paragraph style, it affects not only what should be body text, but headings, as well. It’s the mark of an inexperienced site designer.