One Space or Two


In “ When Did the World Change? ” ( JofA , Oct.06, page 13) the letter writer asked, “When did the world change from two spaces after a period to one? More important, why did it change?”

With the transition from monospaced typefaces, such as on a typewriter, to proportional typefaces, such as those commonly used in word processing, the need for the extra space to visually mark the end of a sentence became moot. Today, section 6.11 of the Chicago Manual of Style states in typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence, whether a period, a colon, a question mark, an exclamation point or closing quotation marks. For nontypeset material, section 2.12 states that a single character space, not two spaces, should be left after periods at the ends of sentences (both in manuscript and in final, published form).

The letter writer is not alone in continuing to observe the two-spaces-after-a-period rule, as most editors would attest.

Cynthia L. Course, CPA
Wrightstown, N.J.

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