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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?

  • 3
    Only on typewriters. Dec 6, 2011 at 13:50
  • 1
    What do you mean? Are you joking?
    – William
    Dec 6, 2011 at 13:51
  • 3
    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. Dec 6, 2011 at 13:54

3 Answers 3


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.


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.

  • Just noticed that your metatag was American-English. I should point out that I took the RSA exams (UK) circa. 1990.
    – Matt
    Dec 6, 2011 at 13:56

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.

  • 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, 2011 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, 2011 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, 2011 at 15:45
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    Prior to the invention of the Linotype, typesetters used much more space between sentences than between words. People using typewriters followed that practice by using two spaces after sentences. When Linotypes came on the scene, they couldn't handle such spacing. If readers had squawked at Linotypes' failure to properly space sentences, the mechanical problems could likely have been overcome, but instead publishers took the opportunity to simplfy spacing so they'd have one less thing they could get wrong (even though such practice made some sentences needlessly ambiguous).
    – supercat
    Apr 8, 2015 at 23:58

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