Double Spaced Out

Do you use two spaces between sentences? Yes? FUCK OFF. No, alright, come back, I understand. It's easy to do. Well, no, it's twice as hard, obviously, but you can do it if you really want to. You might be doing it based on principle: I know a person who does it specifically because he reckons one space is a horrid Americanisation (let's keep him anonymous and call him "Rob"). But if you want to know why I kind of think you're wrong, read on.

There is a lot of debate about it still, I guess because people like being right and learned to type pretty early in their lives. But I tend to go with one space for the following reasons, in no order in particular:

  1. Look at a book, or a magazine, or whatever. It's closer to one space than two, though it is usually larger than a normal space.
  2. Apparently computers take into account spaces at ends of sentences for you and make them slightly larger. I checked on this sentence and can confirm the space is about 25% bigger.
  3. HTML doesn't recognise double spaces and I write mostly online. Well, alright, you could use  , but that's clearly cheating.
  4. When printing, it's clearly going to produce a tiny tiny tiny waste of paper at some point to use two spaces! Oh my god!

According to Wikipedia, the timeline apparently goes like this:

  • 1800s. Typography was similar to now, with slightly larger spaces between sentences.
  • Late 19th Century. The typewriter becomes popular, and people approximated these spaces with two spaces.
  • Early 20th Century. People who grew up with typewriters started typesetting using double spaces instead of the actual rules.
  • Circa 1950. People started to realise they were approximating an approximation and were stupid. Typesetting reverted to the old way, and did so fastest in the USA.

So, "Rob" is standing up against Americans who are reverting to the original British way faster than the British.

Anyhow, if anyone cares, I was initially annoyed because Steven Moffat, current head writer of Doctor Who and creator of Coupling and Press Gang, writes with double spaces. I know. You're shocked. I'm shocked. We're all shocked. It's shocking.

Tom Charman Mastodon