TYPEWRITERS DISRUPT EVERYTHING
Printing moved along for several centuries not changing much as least regarding this question. Then we came to the 19th century and the invention of typewriters. Suddenly, offices could produce documents that looked as if they were printed, but were actually done in-house. In that way, typewriters revolutionized the printing business. But there was a catch. Typewriters used “monospaced type.” Every letter or character took up the same amount of space on the key. Inconveniently, some letters such as "m" and "w" were wider when typed in a sentence. They took up more space. So typists began to insert two spaces after the period for clarity. That's where the old "two spaces" after a sentence rule originated.
THE CONVENTION TODAY IS ONE SPACE
Now jump to the 20th century. Mechanical typesetting and computers began to take over. Suddenly, letters took up only as much space as they had to. Mechanical typesetting was very different from typewriter typing. So a single space was wide enough to show the reader that the sentence had ended. From the mid 20th-century onward, typographers and style experts fell in line with this “one space” convention. Double spacing faded away. Single spacing is the standard today.
But wait. Diehards in certain fields still insist on double spacing. That's why the question still causes controversy. Certain academics and even some publishing houses (so I've heard, although no one gives precise names) still insist on two spaces. But in the business world in general, one space prevails. So for now, you can stick to that, and, if anyone asks why, you can put on your "grammar guru" hat and explain it to them.
10/15/2014 07:58:51 am
Question. For some reason I still am "old school". That's for the most part. Sometimes I might use both ways in the same document. Is that okay? Or do I have stay consistent with only one way for the grammar to be considered correct?
11/23/2014 10:59:34 am
Tracy. Rules like this are aimed at making things clearer for the reader and avoiding confusion. If you use two styles, that could be confusing. So, from that point of view, it's better to use either one space between sentences throughout the entire document (the standard today when using a computer) -- or two if you want to be old fashioned! The Grammar Guru
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Good writing skills are a cornerstone of success in the academic world, and they are also a major plus in later life.