It’s Now a Single-Spaced World

Show of hands. Who learned to type on a typewriter?

TypewriterNow keep your hand up if you double space between sentences.

Wow. Quite a few of you!

I hope this news isn’t a surprise, but double spacing is virtually no more when writing for publication. A single space is all that is needed / required between sentences for most style guides and a majority of publishers.

If you’re publishing your own blog and your own e-books you may retain the double spacing between sentences as a personal preference. But if you’re submitting for publication, a single space is all that’s needed in most cases.

*I’m saying most cases because the American Press (AP) Stylebook did call for the single space, but have gone back to the double space.

Programmers and anyone coding in HTML (for instance) on their blogs, know that it’s an effort to make a double space. Everything defaults to single space unless the special   is entered to add an additional space.

It took me a while to get in the habit of single spacing and I still find old documents that are double spaced. When I first transitioned to single spacing, it was through the find and replace feature in Word. Now it’s just habit to only use one space.

No bad things will happen if you continue to double space between sentences; however if submitting for publication (as is always the case) read the guidelines carefully and if there is a style guide handy, double-check the rule for spacing between sentences. If you can make the best first impression with a publisher, even if it’s single spacing between sentences, you should do it. Right?

I’ve had this conversation a few times over the last couple of months. Some folks are adamant about the double space; others are surprised to hear single spacing is an option; and then there are a few, like me, who have converted to single spacing and can’t imagine double spacing any more.

Where are you in the single vs double space conversation? A convert? Not ever going to single space? Single space on special occasions?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, technology, and realty businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

26 thoughts on “It’s Now a Single-Spaced World

  1. The single spacing trend boggled me for a bit, but have gotten used to it (unless tired, then habit takes over). Knowing style guide and preferences is critical. There are so many books begging, don’t give any reason for your writing to be tossed aside.

  2. I learned to type on typewriters in high school. So of course I was double spacing because that was what I was taught. But once we moved to computers, we were all taught to single space instead. Yet even now, I’d unconsciously double space my sentences once in a while. At least Word would catch those errors for me. And it’s good to know and keep in mind about sentence spacing when it comes to publication.

  3. I heard of this a few weeks back. Of course, I’m old school… well as old school as a pig typing can be. My mom taught me double spaced because that’s how she did it. It’s weird at first trying single spaced. Have an awesome day my friend. Snorts – XOXO – Bacon

  4. I clearly remember in high school, a big ole picture of a typewriter on the wall in the front of the classroom, and all the keys were whited-out. And, of course, we did double-spacing.

    But that was years ago and I’ve been using a computer for so long now, I never think of double-spacing any longer…. until this post. 🙂

  5. I learned on a typewriter in high school as well, but we actually never double spaced between sentences. I’d honestly never heard of that until college, and I’ve never done it because it always seemed pointless to me.

  6. I’m nineteen, and I use the double space after a period. I’m dyslexic, so it’s slightly easier to read a paper that has double spaces after the end of a sentence. I consider this a personal preference. But on social media, I use one space because we’re limited to 140 characters. And for some reason, a space counts. That’s beyond me.

  7. Been double spacing since I learned to type on my mom’s typewriter in grade school. Miss that old typewriter! Have not even considered converting to single space. Like the white between the sentences. Gives the eyes a break. Unless absolutely forced, will remain double spacing for life!
    Jeanette Hall

  8. Thanks so much for your post. As a newspaper copy editor, I find myself spending a lot of time deleting the second space from submitted copy. (And I’m an old-school, learned on a typewriter, writer. Word processing programs just don’t need the second space.) Thanks again.

  9. > f you’re publishing your own blog and your own e-books you may retain
    > the double spacing between sentences as a personal preference.

    Not a good idea. Double-spacing will cause the first word of the next sentence to be set in one character and not flush if it begins on a new line. The extra space causes this. Online writing is the best reason I can think of for not double-spacing after a period.

  10. It’s taken me a few years, but I think I now have cured myself of the double space habit. But it took a long time. My thumb just automatically hits that space bar 2x. I often have to revisit my its and it’s as well for the same reason. My pinky automatically puts an apostrophe in there!

  11. I never used a typewriter…yet *fingers crossed, then uncrossed to continue typing*
    I have had I.T. lessons in Primary School and we were always told to do the double space rule. But when it came to Secondary school, like ‘the atom is the smallest thing in the universe’ and ‘i before e except after c,’ my overly dramatic teenage brain said ‘EVERYTHING’S A LIE’ when I was told by both my teachers and by word documents that I didn’t have to do that (stupid red zig zaggy line).

  12. I never used a typewriter and was shocked when I found out that the double space was a thing. I never used it growing up and studying in France (and even during my MA in the UK). I never use double spaces and if I find one by accident, I fix it right away.

  13. You know, I learned double spaced. I didn’t think the writing community would ever change to single. If that’s the direction they’re going, I guess I might as well head there too. It’ll take a lot of getting used to.

  14. Wow Lisa. I learned to type on the old manual typewriter with the return bar. Copies were made with carbon paper and mistakes erased on each copy with an eraser. As a book editor, I find that I do as my client prefers. I do suggest double or single spacing for publication, as you mentioned, however; I think I am a dinosaur about the whole thing. My preference is double spacing, but I am not unreasonable, I’ll single space, too.

  15. Caught in the middle! I learned on standard (non-electric) typewriters, wrote my 300+ dissertation on my electric Smith-Corona, experimented with early word processors, and settled for the PC keyboard. Old English prof, so I still double space with the same aplomb when I properly punctuate. If the machines want to contradict my formatting, fine, but I’m not doing it on purpose. My only question is Where do all those extra spaces go? The ones we’re not using? Are they hunkered down somewhere with lost socks and dreams?

  16. I learned on a typewriter, so I double-space out of habit. Then I have to go back in and eliminate them all — what fun! But I still think the double-space is easier to read.

  17. As I have always used Microsoft Word ever since I plunged into the world of the P.C, I never really thought about the spacing and just accepted it double spacing as the accepted normal
    It wasn’t until much later on when I was asked to write a book review, but told it had to be in single spaced that I even heard of such a thing
    Even though I had no idea how to set about achieving this strange formatting, so copied and pasted a single spaced article into Word, and used as a template for my own
    Surprisingly this method worked really well and I was able to satisfy the author at least with the spacing, as to the review it’s self – well that’s another story

  18. I just checked the online AP Stylebook and it still says use a single space between sentences. This felt awkward, but now I’m accustomed to it! Thanks for bringing up this interesting topic.

  19. I never really thought about it until recently. It is the way I was taught and I like the way it looks, nice and clear. Then a friend pointed out that digital natives don’t do it… Nothing like being told it makes you look old to force you to change. I still do it naturally a lot of the time, especially when I’m storming through something, but my vanity makes me “Find & Replace” it afterwards.

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