Grammar

Microsoft Word to Flag Double Spaces Between Words as Errors

Dreamstime

This new assault on typing double spaces between words may make old-school typists angry but modern copyeditors delighted!

Whether you type double spaces between words probably depends on when you learned typing.

I never took a formal typing class. Despite my lack of formal training, I easily passed a typing speed test back in my college journalism school. And I’m sure I can type as fast if not faster than some students who might have taken those typing classes back then.

But without the class, I never learned the “rule” about typing two spaces after every period.

At some point, years ago, that rule changed.

But like many rules that change long-established practices, some revolted. Almost immediately.

These days, in the copyediting portion of my real job, double spaces are one of my pet peeves. It’s not my biggest; that honor still goes to the misuse of due to. But it’s up there.

Microsoft Word is cracking down on double spaces.

Word started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period as an error, The Verge reported.

How did we reach this point? Well, back in the typewriter days, typewriters placed the same space between each character. Whether you typed a W or an I, it took up the same amount of horizontal space. The two spaces following every period made it easier on the eyes to see where one sentence ended and the next began.

Modern word processors and modern typesetters fixed this “error” so that narrow letters no longer took the same amount of space as their wider counterparts.

Two spaces are no longer necessary.

But you’ll still have a tough time convincing some of the diehards of that fact.

The application will now place a red squiggly line in any two spaced gap, signifying the “error.” But you’ll still be able to ignore the suggestion to halve the space.

More’s the pity.

Instead, don’t ignore: take the suggestion. One space between sentences is plenty.

Are you a one-spacer or a two-spacer?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.