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The Space Bar: A Fountain of Youth for Anyone Who Types

Still hitting the space bar twice after each sentence when you type? Well, it's time to emerge from the Dark Ages of document production and put an end to that nasty little habit... unless you are still typing on a typewriter.

Blasphemy? Not quite. Increasingly, publications of all sorts are using only one space after a period, exclamation point or question mark. Also recommending one space after end punctuation are heavy hitters like the AP Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style, among others. Those of us who are editors or typesetters are rejoicing as it becomes more widely recognized that the old "two spaces after a period" thing is indeed old fashioned.

So how did the whole two spaces after a period thing start us on this blurry path? You can thank typewriters for that, as Jennifer Gonzalez, a former middle school language arts teacher and current writer for Cult of Pedagogy explains:

"Back when we used typewriters, every character was given the exact same amount of space on the page. That meant the letter i was given the same amount of space as the letter m, even though it clearly didn’t need it. This is called monospaced typesetting and it’s, well, spacey. We needed that extra space between sentences to make it easier to see the beginning of new sentences."

Now we have cool stuff like laptops and ipads to type on, and they mostly provide proportionally spaced fonts that automatically adjust the spacing of each letter, thereby making a second space after a period completely unnecessary (and "totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong" according to some).

When it comes to typing, nothing shows your age as much as your choice of whether to use one or two spaces after your periods. This is what was taught -- no -- POUNDED into our brains repeatedly in school! But as tough as change is, change inevitably comes. And if I had a dime for every time I proofed a document and removed the extra spaces, only to have the author question my sanity and tell me how wrong I was, I'd have enough money to go buy an old typewriter.

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