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

I understand the justification for reverting to a single-space system (computers aren't typewriters), but is it actually inappropriate to use two spaces after a period? I always learned to write that way, and look at a single-space paper and feel kind of... claustrophobic.

  • What do you mean with two spaces between a word? – kiamlaluno Feb 12 '11 at 23:23
  • Do you mean after a full stop? Typographers are fussy about that and hate double spaces, but I think it is more a matter of personal style. – Henry Feb 12 '11 at 23:47
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/2544/… – Pops Feb 13 '11 at 5:54

I'm a bit confused at what you mean. There are three interpretations of your question:

  1. The traditional two spaces after a period, which has to do with typewriters. This is ok, but it just looks unnatural with current technology, since most new fonts have special ways to put in extra space.

    This is a sentence.  There are two spaces between a period and the next sentence.
  2. Double spacing in paragraphs and essays, which is what it sounds like you might be talking about in your last sentence. This is also ok; it makes papers much easier to read.

    This is a sentence. At the end of this line, we skip

    a line before continuing. This stops papers from

    looking like they're too dense.

  3. Two spaces between each and every word. This is highly not recommended; modern font designers deliberately choose a space width that looks appropriate for the font. The only reason to do so is because of poor kerning by the font designer that makes two words look like one. This is because a space is between two words; using an extra one defeats the purpose.

    This  type  of  spacing  is  unnatural  and  not correct.
    Instead, this natural spacing looks better.

    And when I take it into a non-fixed-width font, it looks even better.

  • Right, sorry, I guess my question was more than a little unclear. What I was referring to was the double spacing after a period, which I've always been taught to do. Your explanation makes sense though, cheers. – Nick Coelius Feb 13 '11 at 0:43

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