My mind was recently blown. Maybe this has happened to you? I was scrolling through Twitter and taking in my daily allotment of world atrocities, when I came across this tweet:
I need to have a word with whoever taught academics to put two spaces after a period.
— Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) June 24, 2017
You could actually hear the screeching breaks. I’m not an academic, but I do put two spaces after a period when I type. Doesn’t everyone? I had that moment of panic when I thought that I went to school without any clothes on; maybe not everyone puts two spaces after a period when they type?
A google search took me to my trusty Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, who confirmed this.
“If you learned to type on a typewriter, you’re going to hate what I say next: Do not put two spaces after a period. Don’t do it. Just use one.”
Yes, I learned to type on a typewriter. No, I’m not that old!
According to Mignon, computers are just smarter than typewriters. I never paid close enough attention to notice before, but letters typed on a computer are not all the same width. On typewriters, they are. We were all taught to use two spaces on a typewriter to promote readability – to make sure our sentences were visually clear and easy to read. This just isn’t necessary with computers. The Grammar Girl post has a great visual for this, if you scroll down a bit.
I’ve been working on using one space after a period. And truly, it hasn’t been that bad of an adjustment! I thought that it would be an impossible change, but I’m finding that it just takes a bit of concentration to unlearn about 20 years of habit.
I debated whether or not it would even be worth going through the hassle to make this change. In the big scheme of things, what does it really matter? In the end, I decided to try because I don’t want to be one of those people who can’t adjust to change. Unless we’re talking about the Oxford Comma. I will never stop using it, no matter what the style manuals tell me!
How about you? One space or two?! If two, do you think it’s worthwhile to change your habit?