Grammar Tips > 5 supposed grammar rules to boldly ignore > Putting two spaces after a period

Putting two spaces after a period

The "Rule": Put two spaces after every period when typing.

The Reality: This concept warrants a full stop.

Here's a handy way to know if you need to put two spaces after a period: Are you working on a typewriter? No? Then no need to double up on the spaces! Back when type was set by hand, an extra space after a period was encouraged. In today's digital world, not so much. Technically, there is nothing wrong with having two spaces after a period, but there is just no need for that extra space. Look no further than the Modern Language Association's MLA Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style for reassurance—both publications call for just one space after a period.

"Published work these days rarely features two spaces after a period," says the Chicago Manual of Style. "In the era when type was set by hand, it was common to use extra space (sometimes quite a bit of it) after periods, a practice that continued into the first half of the 20th century. And many people were taught to use that extra space in typing class. But introducing two spaces after a sentence-ending period—and only after those periods—causes problems."

The MLA Style Manual concurs.

"Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition, most publishers' guidelines for preparing electronic manuscripts ask authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print."

"As a practical matter," the Manual says, "there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise."

Are you shocked, or did you not even know about this rule to begin with?

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