• Alysa Salzberg

One or two spaces after a period? Thanks to a software update, the battle rages on.

Recently, Microsoft World got us grammar geeks’ and language lovers’ attention with a new modification to their Editor tool: as of now, the program considers double-spacing after a period (or full-stop, to Brits) incorrect.


Single-spacing has become increasingly common as time has gone on – and the reason is that double-spacing was created in the era of the typewriter. With typewriter fonts, the double-space is necessary to make it clear that a sentence has ended, but with computer fonts, on the other hand, the extra space is no longer necessary.


Still, some diehards persist in preferring a double to a single space after a period, and they may have a point. According to this article, which includes a fascinating compilation of scientific studies on the subject, the double space can create a milliseconds-long pause, which will very slightly slow reading time, but it also makes print easier to read.


Then again, the article adds, this has been contradicted in other studies.


It seems that whether you’re looking at it scientifically or aesthetically, there’s no concrete answer to the single vs double space after a period debate. Fortunately, as articles like this one point out, you can simply choose for Microsoft Word’s Editor to disregard the “error” of the double space.


Read on to learn more about spacing history and how the Word update has shaken up the grammar world.



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