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How Many Spaces After End Punctuation?

Have you ever wondered why you see two spaces after a period in some instances while only one space is used in others?


It was in 2003 that the writers and editors of the 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) started recommending one space after a period and a colon in typed manuscripts instead of two. This style guide was the first of all the style guides to make this change. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) didn't change their guidelines regarding spacing after a period from two to one until 2019. This could be why so many people still put two spaces after a period, a question mark, an exclamation point, and/or a colon. It may just be a preference of style.

Some of you may not know what these style guides are and why they are so important, so . . .

"The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) covers a variety of topics from manuscript preparation and publication to grammar, usage, and documentation, and as such, it has been lovingly dubbed the 'editor's bible.'" This is the style guide I use most often as a book editor, and yes, I lovingly call it my "editor's bible."


"The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) is the style of documentation of sources used by the American Psychological Association. This form of writing research papers is used mainly in the social sciences, like psychology, anthropology, sociology, as well as education and other fields."


Other style guides include Modern Language Association (MLA), used mostly for "preparing scholarly manuscripts and student research papers," & The Associated Press (AP) "is the definitive resource for journalists."

It is often said that people who learned to type on a typewriter are in the Two Space group, whereas those who learned to type on a computer belong to the One Space group. I learned on a typewriter, but I am a member of the One Space group. Since the move from typewriter to computer, lots of things have changed. I remember when I went to community college in 1999 and 2000, one of our textbooks was a guide to navigating the internet. Gasp! Technology has been advancing since around that time, and with these advancements came many changes in the way language was presented to readers.


That said, I am not going to go into the history of the typewritten word, so for more on why the change in spacing took place and the history of typewritten communication, read "One Space or Two?" by Russell Harper in the Shop Talk blog of The Chicago Manual of Style. It is an engaging read. At least it was for me.


I will end with this: If you want your manuscript published, your copy editor is going to change all of those double spaces to one. No need to worry, though. Tightening up your manuscript in this way will have no effect on the content. Your manuscript will still kick butt!


And don't forget . . .


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