Jan 5, 2016

Space Bars - Use Only Once, Please!

by Marsha Ward

Did you know...

that when mankind used typewriters, we were taught to space twice after each sentence?

There was a good reason for that.

Each letter took the same amount of space, that is, each "M" occupied the same amount of space on the typed page as each "I".  We had to use two spaces after each period so other folks could more easily find the beginnings and ends.

But you know, we don't use those "mono-space" typefaces much anymore. Sure, you might use it for a manuscript, if you like the look of Courier, or obsess about the number of words on a page, but few modern writers are that nit-picky about the look of their manuscripts, and Word provides a nifty tool called "word count" that was missing from typewriters. Everything will be changed, anyway, once the manuscript becomes a book. The typesetter will take your edited electronic file and make it look all pretty for the printed page. They probably will use a different typeface entirely.

What does all that have to do with whether or not your thumb hits the space bar once or twice after a sentence? It doesn't even matter, right?


If you put in two spaces after a period at the end of the sentence (or, horrors, a space after a period at the end of a paragraph), someone has to massage your file to take out all those extra spaces. Someone at the publishing company. Someone who has to be paid for their time to do that.

I've been told on good authority that some publishers will pass up a perfectly good story/novel if the manuscript has two spaces after a period, because of the cost and hassle involved with removing the extra spaces!



Don't be that obnoxious writer. Keep your chances of being accepted as high as possible. Make things easy for your editor/typesetter. Restrain your thumb from hitting the space bar twice. It's not really that hard to quell the desire/habit.

Just do it!


  1. I agree. I just edited a good piece that had the double space. between sentences. That was one of the first things I had to learn when I went back to college in the 90's.

  2. I never knew! Thanks for the informative lesson.

  3. I feel so much better now. I found notes from when I first joined ANWA that mention using the double space. I remember stressing out about having to go back and put double spacing in. I'm glad I put it away. Now I can leave the single space...and rewrite everything else...because 20 years ago, spacing was the least of my writing problems. LOL hugs!

  4. As someone who worked in the publishing business I can tell you that a basic word document makes life much much easier. As for rejecting the article out of hand over that, not so much. But then articles are much smaller pieces of copy to deal with.


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