Typing a double space after a full stop is wrong, period. With one space.
Microsoft Word is to start flagging the use of two spaces between sentences as an error — reflecting the standard accepted by most style guides.
The formatting error will begin being flagged by the popular word processing application with a blue wavy line.
Popular use of double-spacing is a hangover from the days of typewriting, when the equal-width characters of ‘monospaced’ fonts called for clearer sentence endings.
The introduction of proportional-spacing typewriters in 1944, however, began the process of rendering the extra space unnecessary for ensuring easy readability.
Nevertheless, the tradition of double-spacing continued — and is often found among those individuals who were first taught to type on a typewriter.
The new rule is being rolled out slowly across Word, meaning that users may not encounter the new warning until they update their software.
For the militant two-spacers among us, however, fear not — it will be possible to instruct the popular word-processing software to ignore the error.
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Microsoft Word, pictured, is to start flagging the use of two spaces between sentences as an error — reflecting the standard accepted by most style guides (stock image)
The change to Microsoft’s spelling and grammar check was first spotted by Alan Chen, a professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.
‘Microsoft Word now showing 2 spaces after a period as an error,’ he tweeted.
‘The one-spacers have won,’ he concluded.
Microsoft may only have just made the transition to discouraging its users from double-spacing, but typographic authorities have been ‘one-spacers’ for some time.
Prominent style guides including those of the APA, PA, the US Government and the Chicago Manual of Style all advocate against the use of double-spacing.
Arguments against the use of double spaces include saving time, saving paper when printed and helping to minimise the risk of so-called ‘rivers of white’ — runs of spacing down a printed page that have the potential disrupt readability.
In fact, Matthew Butterick — author of the book ‘Practical Typography’ — writes that the ‘one space’ rule is ‘not a matter of argument.’
‘One option has the support of typography authorities and professional practice; the other option does not. The issue is not ambiguous,’ he added.
‘Like language, typographic conventions do change.’
‘In the past, spacing habits have been different. In another forty or fifty years, maybe they’ll have changed again.’
For now, however, ‘—one space,’ he concludes.
A 2018, study published in the Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics whipped up a typographic storm when it concluded from experiments that people’s reading speed increased by around 3 per cent when reading text with double-spaced sentences.
‘Increased spacing has been shown to help facilitate processing in a number of other reading studies,’ paper author Rebecca Johnson of Skidmore College in New York told the Atlantic in an email (which, reportedly, she double spaced!)
‘Removing the spaces between words altogether drastically hurts our ability to read fluently and increasing the amount of space between words helps us process the text,’ she added.
However, critics noted that the findings only applied to those readers who themselves already type using double spaces.
Furthermore, the tests were both undertaken on only a computer screen, rather than also testing printed text, and involved monospaced fonts — the exact type of font for which the practice of double-spacing was created to improve readability.
In contrast, the team did not assess the impact of double vs single spacing on proportional fonts, which they conceded are more common.
Many people still double-space after a sentence because this was how they were taught to use a typewriter. From their invention in 1868 to 1944, all typewriters used so-called ‘monospaced fonts’, in which characters of a given font size all occupied the same width on the page. This results in larger gaps between characters, making the ends of sentences harder to spot — a problem that first triple and then double spaces mitigated
The change to Microsoft’s spelling and grammar check was first spotted by Alan Chen, a professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.’ Microsoft Word now showing 2 spaces after a period as an error,’ he tweeted. ‘The one-spacers have won,’ he concluded
Regardless of the expert opinion, the discovery of the changes to Word’s spelling and grammar checker rules has been met with varied reactions online.
‘With a word processing program, the appropriate amount of spacing is included by hitting the space bar one time,’ wrote Twitter user @jfetz.
‘Besides, who likes wasting space?’ they added.
Justin Mikolay tweeted: ‘For years I was a proponent of two spaces after a period […] Today I’m proud I was convinced (about two years ago by the excellent arguments of the one-spacers.’
In response, twitter used @FewUgly quipped: ‘Traitor.’
Meanwhile, @Atticus59914029 wrote that the news heralded ‘a dark day in the annals of humanity. Two spaces.’
The MailOnline has approached Microsoft for comment on why they have changed their spelling and grammar policy at this time.
Regardless of the expert opinion, the discovery of the changes to Word’s spelling and grammar checker rules has been met with varied reactions online
‘With a word processing program, the appropriate amount of spacing is included by hitting the space bar one time,’ wrote Twitter user @jfetz. ‘Besides, who likes wasting space?’ they added