Almost all style guidelines agree that one spacing is appropriate. The American Psychological Association's (APA) Publication Manual was the only style guide that explicitly suggested two spaces after a period, yet even that long-standing supporter of two spaces revised its policy to one space in its 2019 version.
One space is also the default setting for most word processors. So if you type a sentence and then press the return key, the next line should start with another sentence started with an initial capital letter.
Some writers claim that putting a second space after short sentences makes them appear longer. This isn't true; periods are not sentence terminators but rather indicators of a new thought or paragraph. If you want to break up a long sentence, use paragraphs instead.
The one exception is when writing letters or emails where two spaces indicate end of sentence. In these cases, authors should put a half space rather than a full space after their sentences.
Single-spacing is proper, according to the AP Stylebook. The Chicago Manual of Style is the same way. The Modern Language Association Style Center, on the other hand, recommends that authors use a single space following a period unless specifically instructed otherwise. This website claims that using more than one space after a period makes your document look "pretentious and arrogant."
The OneSpace site argues that using multiple spaces after a period is incorrect because it produces an unreadable page. It also says that using only one space after a period is incorrect because it implies that there are other periods before it. Finally, it says that using two spaces after a period is incorrect because it's the default setting for most word processors and it's assumed that you want to separate words with periods.
These guidelines are not absolute rules. If you prefer, you can split your documents in half and have one side single-space and the other side double-space after a period. Or you could follow some people's advice and not use any spaces at all after a period.
The 1-Space Rule is supported by the APA Style Guide. This means that when writing an essay, you should not use any space between words except for the space needed to distinguish one sentence from the next. Thus, a typical APA essay does not contain any blank lines or tabs.
When writing an article, the rule is that only a period ends a sentence. So, generally, you will not find any space after an article title or after a subtitle. Any additional space after these elements would be used up otherwise. When writing a book, however, there can be some leeway after titles and subtitles because the body of the text requires some breathing room. Generally, though, you should avoid using too much white space (space between paragraphs) in books because it makes reading longer papers more difficult.
When writing a research paper, there are two types of sentences you should know about: independent and dependent. Independent sentences do not depend on other sentences for support. They can stand alone as complete thoughts. Dependent sentences can't stand alone and need another sentence to explain or provide context for what they are saying. Using too many dependent sentences in your paper can cause it to seem unorganized and unclear.
In current English-language typography, there is no space before a colon and only one space after it. After a colon, one or two spaces can and have been used. The previous norm (intended for monospaced typefaces) was to use two spaces following a colon. This was in order to avoid breaking up words that begin with capitals.
Because double spacing is the usual for essay assignments, you should style your work using double spacing if you are unsure about the requirements. Only use a single space if the teacher specifically requests it. Don't panic if you've already typed your work and discovered that your spacing is incorrect. It's easy to change.
The Evolution of Two Spaces Before word processors, two spaces after a period were necessary and taught as right if you learnt to type on a typewriter. Because the spacing between words on a typewriter was irregular, the extra space was required to define the beginning of a new phrase. This is called "paragraph formatting" in modern terms.
In the early days of computer typing, this was not possible because there was no way for the computer to know when one sentence ended and the next began. For this reason, many computers instead used a form of text markup called "hard returns" or "carriage returns". These are characters that the computer recognizes as the end of one sentence and the start of another. They are usually punctuation marks, such as hyphens or line breaks. To display these hard returns in plain English, you would need to insert a special character between each one. This is what a hard return looks like: --.
However, humans find this difficult to read. So, most word processors now allow you to specify how many spaces should be used as a hard return. The easiest way to do this is with an option called "two-space indents." If this option is selected, then two spaces will be inserted after every period. Otherwise, only one space will be inserted.
Two spaces make it easier to read because it gives the impression that one complete thought has been completed before moving on to the next.
In general, double-space the abstract, text, block quotes, table and figure numbers, titles, and notes, and reference list in an APA Style document (including between and within entries). There should be no excess space before or after paragraphs. Use page margins only for formatting purposes.
If you are using a word processing program that does not allow for custom margin sizes, such as Microsoft Word, then you will have to use single spacing instead. The easiest way to do this is by selecting "Paragraph" from the "Format" menu.
Single spaced text should appear like this:
Double spaced text should appear like this:
For example, if you were to type this sentence out in Word: "This is my first paragraph." Then you would need to set your margins so there is no space between words, sentences, or paragraphs. This can be done by setting the left margin measurement to 0 mm (or 1 inch) through the "Page Setup" window. Then when you print out your document, no space will appear between any of its elements.
To create a double-spaced document with Word, go to "File" > "Printing" > "Page Setup".
Unless you're using a real typewriter, there's no need to place two spaces following a period. Alternatively, a question mark. Alternatively, an exclamation point. This rule applies to all types of end punctuation. Examples include periods, commas, and semicolons.