Two Space Or Not Two Space – Day 5

Day 5 of the #100DaysToOffload Series:

I’m old. Let’s just get that out of the way first thing. I can’t remember the kind of typewriter I learned to type on, but the fact that I learned on a typewriter is probably all the information you need. When I learned to type, my teacher was adamant about one particular fact. One space between words, two spaces after a period. Now, it appears Microsoft would beg to differ.

I never really knew what the reason was for the whole “two space rule” when it came to the ends of sentences, so I asked a friend of mine who works in a museum. This is what he told me:

The history of the double space goes back to the days of manual typesetters and how the kerning was set up with newsprint. The extraneous space was necessary so the eye/brain could readily recognize the end of a sentence. (As a researcher who has read WAY too many column inches of tightly-packed 19th century newsprint, I want to thank them for doing that. Insert slow clap)

This continued into the modern era in newsprint – again, as the kerning had not changed. Modern word processor software and fonts typically modify the kerning so you do not have to add the second space.

So, it appears that the whole reason I was adding two spaces to the end of each sentence was because manual typesetters a couple of centuries ago did it to make printed sentences easier. There’s literally no reason to continue this practice on a computer.

A few days ago, Microsoft updated Microsoft Word to mark it as an error if two spaces are put after a period.

Maybe it’s childish of me since I stopped putting two spaces after the period years ago, but the fact that Microsoft is telling me it’s wrong is the best reason I’ve seen in years to start doing it again.