Tag Archives: style

One space or two?

People of a certain age — myself included — learned to type on a manual typewriter, and our typing teachers taught us to put two spaces between sentences and after colons.

Nowadays, the rule is one space between sentences and after colons. This is true in Virginia Tech’s style guide as well as in all major style guides, including Associated Press, Chicago, MLA, and others.

Why the difference? It has to do with the fact that manual typewriters used monospacing — every letter, no matter its width, took up the same amount of horizontal space. Thus, an “l” or “i” was allotted the same amount of space as a wider letter, like an “m” or “w.” This caused more white space between some letters and made the space between sentences more difficult to locate. So, two spaces were inserted between sentences to make it easier for the reader to visually separate them. Continue reading

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