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Jorge Piñon

Yes, you can use 2 spaces after periods. #

February 4, 2012

Apparently, it’s new to some people that two spaces is an unnecessary relic of the days of the typewriter. Welcome to the 90s (maybe 80s, I wouldn’t know). Now get this, on screen (especially email) it can actually be a good thing to use the extra space after a period.

Yes, modern typefaces have made the need for two spaces obsolete. Yes, two spaces is a relic of the era of monospace typewriter fonts where a period took up as much horizontal space as any other character, making it difficult to easily recognize ending of sentences. Many people learned it in high-school typing class and they cling to it like it was written on stone tablets.

Office Admins, listen... When using Word, you should not use monospace fonts (like Courier) and you should absolutely not use two spaces after a period.

Email, however, is a different story. Plain text email isn’t about typographic color or rivers or English-vs-French Spacing. Hell, it isn’t even about grammar. It’s about communication, delivering your message quickly and clearly and moving on. It’s about reading important messages from your boss or stupid jokes from Brian from Sales.

Bottom line: NEVER use double spaces after a period for printed documents. It’s antiquated, unprofessional, or both. But it isn’t a bad thing to add an extra space in an email. Or 3 spaces. Or throw in a line break. Do it not because it’s a rule you learned in typing class, but because it makes your message easier to understand.

This Slate article sounds like my typing teacher (who in 1989 must have been in her 80s, so it can’t have been written by her. May she and her ruler R.I.P.)