The Day Has Finally Come!

My friends, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time. And it’s finally here.

I’m 39. I grew up after typewriters and word processors–we had real computers back in my day, powerful machines like the 286.

Despite the world having moved on from typewriters, however, we were still instructed to enter 2 spaces after the period at the end of a sentence. This was important in the age of typewriters because of the way letters and punctuation were spaced, but it no longer mattered with computers.

I made the personal choice to stop using 2 spaces in college. Yes, I was quite the rebel. This choice was solidified when I worked for a medical book publisher after college–by then, many style guides were specifically saying that 1 space was correct.

But guess who was still playing by yesterday’s rules, enabling people from my generation to continue to incorrectly use 2 spaces, wrecking havoc among those of us who needed to edit out those spaces? Microsoft Word, that’s who.

Not anymore! Today the news broke that Word will mark 2 spaces as a grammatical error. The update may not appear in your version of Word yet, but it will soon.

In these tough times, I’ll take any good news I can get. How do you feel about this?

11 thoughts on “The Day Has Finally Come!”

  1. Not a fan of this decision. Two spaces can help the reader “see” between sentences. This is especially helpful when abbreviations are used in the text. And in a world of proportional spaced fonts, I think it’s even more important to have that little extra space. I’m also a fan of the Oxford Comma, for the sake of clarity.

  2. Scot, did you know that spaces on the web have always contracted to a single space?
    Even what you did write here, which I inspected via the browser console and it was apparent you used two spaces… is rendered as a single space. 🙂

    • I mean. As a Technical Writer, it hurts to see two spaces in any document. I don’t personally use Word and haven’t used it in the last 12 years, but it is almost a standard for the whole world.

  3. Not happy news for me! As a member of the “golden” generation, I have been typing two spaces for over 50 years. Too old now to change! That will frustrate me to no end to have it marked as an error. Hope I can turn that feature off!!

    But – to be fair, I have never noticed that you only use one space.

  4. I have been a writer, editor, and proofreader in both a professional and personal capacity for more than 30 years. I have been using two spaces following a period for that long (and possibly longer). I will simply ignore the suggestion as I shall continue using two spaces…not out of some sort of rebellious behavior, but it’s been my style for decades. I grew up Catholic and a few years ago, the powers that be decided it best to change the words of the Nicene Creed…not for me; I’ll stick with the original form. Call me a traditionalist.

    • The fact you never noticed is proof enough.
      I’m in the Netherlands, learn ed typing 50 years ago and never heard of 2 spaces after a period. Seems to be an English/American rule to me.
      And as said above: all web documents show up with contracted spaces.
      Unless the writer types “& nbsp ;” for each second space (without qoutes and those spaces around nbsp).

  5. This is an area that has sharply divided the relationship between me and my boyfriend. Despite only being one year apart in age, I was taught the two-space method while he learned to single space. It drives him crazy to see double spaces after a period in any document, and although I didn’t feel too strongly one way or the other, I didn’t know if I could retrain myself after decades of doing it the old way. However, I didn’t want to appear like a relic of the past, so I gave it my best shot.

    Once the quarantine hit and I started working from home, I was able to devote the attention I needed to each email and document to ensure I was single-spacing. It took a couple of frustrating weeks, but I’m now happy to say that I’m on board the single space train and have started doing it automatically. Apparently, just in time to get Microsoft off my case about it too!

  6. Love this stuff!

    I like to do the right thing where possible and in recent life have learned that various dashes exist and try to use them correctly (-, –, and —).

    ISO-8601 date/time is a comfort to me.

    I can’t say I’m particularly emotional or opinionated about this particular subject (not as much as the Oxford / serial comma) but will try to use single from now on personally.

    I will never give double-people a hard time though! At some point in time the truth of things is transcended by your own world view.

    For me gif will always be pronounced with a hard g, jar-jar doesn’t exist, and there are a few Indiana Jones movies that were never made. 🙂

  7. I believe many of the other comments (and Jamey’s original entry) have captured my elation. Upon reading this entry, I screamed an earth-shattering “YES!” and danced a jig of delight. Two spaces, I dance on your grammatical grave!


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