It was in the year of Our Lord two thousand and twenty, amidst chaos and a global pandemic, when Microsoft Word settled the great space debate, siding with everyone who isn’t a monster and believes one space after a period is correct, not two.
The tech giant announced it has started to update the desktop version of Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period as the error that it clearly is, with plans to roll out the new feature soon.
“And designers everywhere rejoiced!” our creative director proclaimed.
For those of you who just want to watch the world burn, Microsoft Word’s Editor feature allows users to ignore the suggestion once, accept the change, or turn off the writing-style suggestion.
This great debate dates back to the days of using typewriters to produce “monospaced” type, meaning that each character occupied the same amount of horizontal space. Monospaced type produced text with a lot of white space between characters and words, making it difficult to spot the spaces between sentences. The two-space rule was adopted for this reason. Thankfully, we’ve moved on to better technology, offering users proportional fonts, and making the two-space rule obsolete. As graphic designers, we understand and agree that a page of text with one space looks visually cleaner than a page riddled with gaps throughout.
The first study investigating this hotly debated issue was published in 2018 by Skidmore College, which found that two spaces after a period in the typed text provided the most efficient reading experiences for readers, showing a 3 percent increase in overall reading speed. However, the “groundbreaking” study, which was widely covered by national outlets such as The Atlantic, based its study on 60 college students. We’re 3% certain that this study was paid for by Big Two-Space™.
As we learn to move forward as a society from the travesty that double-spacing is, it is worth mentioning that the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook are just a few of the style guides that recommend one space. The APA Style Guide and the MLA Style Manual continue to raise new generations in double-space usage.
Today, we celebrate our victory and look forward to the day Microsoft Word decides to retire Comic Sans from its default font choices. One could only hope.
You did it, Microsoft. You crazy SOB, you did it!