Single Spaces, please!

Image from: http://writing-tutor-resources.wiki.uml.edu/
As an editor, it drives me crazy when I have to edit copy with double, or in some cases triple spaces between sentences. While I understand, many of us (me included!) learned to type on a type writer, the days of double spaces between sentences are gone.

On a typewriter, the characters are all monospaced. That means an “i” takes up the exact amount of space as an “m.” But on a computer the characters are proportional. Therefore, the double space is not needed.

An About.com article articulates this point. “The only time more than 1 space was used in a line of type was when we had to justify the line to the full margins.”— Madisonhank.

Seeing a full-page of text with double spaces looks strange. I can only imagine that a recruiter or Human Resources Manager would look at the cover letter written with double spaces and add it to the circular file (as in, throw it out). Using double spaces between sentences looks very out-of-place and immediately labels the author as unprofessional.

It took an effort to get my typing teacher’s voice out of my head (and the sight of those red marks indicating I didn’t double space), but it was worth it.

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11 thoughts on “Single Spaces, please!

  1. As an old Underwood girl, I was glad when a marketing pal set me straight on this years ago. Since then, I’ve been a complete pest about it when confronted by those extra spaces. The odd thing is that when I’ve pointed it out to people they don’t always believe me. Plus there’s the muscle memory thing that can make it a hard habit to break. Thanks for the support and the references offered by other commenters. Plus it was a fun topic to get into as I eat lunch at my computer! Hope I didn’t pop any extra spaces into this by mistake! ;-}

  2. I don’t know what is cooler… that you learned to type on a typewriter, or that you dedicated a blogpost to single spacing. 🙂

    I think the learning to type on the typewriter makes me feel old though!

    Great post and I agree. Single space, please. And if you are unsure, always ask a friend or colleague what they thing. They (hopefully) will guide you correctly.

    1. Jason,
      Thanks! I took typing for only a few days in high school. I actually dropped the class to take a journalism class. I know, big surprise! The typing teacher and I did not see eye to eye on typing skills. I will throw out a caveat and add that in some cases and fields, double spacing is still the norm, but as you said please check with a friend or colleague before assuming and always err on the side of single space. Because really, what magazine, newspaper or well-written press release has double spaces now?
      Aurora

    1. Thanks, Jason!
      It depends on the context. Most websites and publications have style guides that dictate headings and paragraph size and I always advise following those details.
      Aurora

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