Two Spaces Between Sentences: the Mullet of Typing Rules

Posted June 11, 2013 by Amanda Shofner in Editing / 10 Comments

Do you use a typewriter?

I hope you’re eying me right now and thinking, “Amanda, what the heck are you talking about? You remember what century this is, right?”

If you don’t use a typewriter, then I ask: why are you using two spaces between your sentences?

Yes, we were taught in keyboarding class to use two spaces between sentences. And even I clung to two spaces through grad school and beyond. My own conversion didn’t happen until late 2012 when I realized the trend was to use one space, not two.

Granted, I had long since been using one space in my text messages and tweets–every character counts, you know–but I had to train myself to use it in every other context. It wasn’t an easy feat.

There’s nothing wrong, exactly, with using two spaces between sentences. It’s a stylistic choice. But you’ve all seen people who cling to one hair style their whole adult lives, right? You shouldn’t cling to the same haircut you’ve had since 1985.

And you shouldn’t cling to two spaces between sentences, either.

The two spaces rule was a typewriter rule; two spaces were needed to ensure it was obvious a new sentence had started. But this issue was solved with modern computers: fonts no longer have spacing issues that typewriters suffered from.

Two spaces have become unnecessary. You can read this post just fine, right?

Would you rock a mullet in 2013? Then you shouldn’t rock two spaces, either.

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10 responses to “Two Spaces Between Sentences: the Mullet of Typing Rules

  1. I especially love that you compared it to a mullet. I have to say this – once you told me why it was started it made sense to me to stop doing it.

    You rock!!

  2. LOL! I *just* told my boyfriend to eliminate two spaces. He thought I was kidding….not so much now that I shared the post with him. Thanks for the reminder and the laugh. #rockthemullet

  3. Chris Nelson

    We talked about this. My brain is having about as much luck instructing my fingers to do this as is the MN Highway Department in persuading drivers to use the zipper merge. I am trying. Having that extra space between sentences, for me, reinforces the separateness of the idea of each sentence. Of course, what would you expect from someone who is quick to use the enter button to create paragraphs just to make sure each idea has its own space.

    Like this. This is what happens when you are taught typing on a manual (that’s right, folks, no electricity needed). Missing a space would cost you the loss of one wpm every time. I learned my lesson well, with my final speed on a manual being 76 wpm with no errors. I will keep trying. It just makes sense. Wasted space and all that. Plus the ability to make changes, take the advice of others, and to be flexible increases our mental agility, which can only be a good thing.

    I counted 10 opportunities in the above comment to eliminate the extraneous space. I had to remove them 9 times. Sigh.

    • It took me a solid month of daily typing and changing before I ever got to the point where I remembered to use one space only.

      Now I edit the second space out of people’s posts with my eagle eye.

      I also like short paragraphs. Nothing wrong with that! I even have a post coming up about how white space is your friend. 🙂

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