Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
How many spaces should come after a period/full stop?

Possible duplicate: How many spaces should come after a period/full stop?

Is it true that you are supposed to put two spaces after the end of a sentence? If so, why don't you see this in very many bodies of text?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Jim, kiamlaluno, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, simchona Dec 6 '11 at 14:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

3  
Only on typewriters. –  Peter Shor Dec 6 '11 at 13:50
1  
What do you mean? Are you joking? –  William Dec 6 '11 at 13:51
2  
I'm half-serious. It even (sort of) says so in Wikipedia: "Double spacing, or placing two spaces between sentences (sometimes referred to as English spacing), came into widespread use with the introduction of the typewriter in the late 19th century." and then "With the introduction of proportional fonts in computers, double sentence spacing became obsolete, according to many experts." Read the Wikipedia article for a much more detailed answer. –  Peter Shor Dec 6 '11 at 13:54
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 0 down vote accepted

The MLA site, (which seems to be unavailable right now) says to use 1 space, but that 2 is acceptable.

Source and Google cached copy since mla.org seems to be down

Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition, most publishers' guidelines for preparing electronic manuscripts ask authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print.

Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks, this spacing is shown in the examples in the MLA Handbook and the MLA Style Manual. As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I was taught, long ago when learning to type (on a typewriter I might add), that there should be two spaces following the full stop. Along with many things (like indenting the initial line of each paragraph) this is rarely, if ever, used nowadays.

share|improve this answer
    
Just noticed that your metatag was American-English. I should point out that I took the RSA exams (UK) circa. 1990. –  Matt Dec 6 '11 at 13:56
add comment

I have seen this phenomenon called "double spacing" before, but I find it plainly annoying. I don't think it's a recent rule and it seems more like some typesetting form of cargo-cult-programming coming from typewriters.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, double spacing was used in typewriters to create sufficient space to separate sentences due to the monospaced font. See this link, second paragraph:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing –  William Dec 6 '11 at 13:54
    
I even learned it when learning to touch type on a computer; it does make things prettier on monospace fonts. –  Unreason Dec 6 '11 at 13:59
    
This is totally going to end in a discussion of personal preferences, but isn't the tab (\t) supposed to be used for moving the next word ahead more than a single character's space? –  Raku Dec 6 '11 at 15:45
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.