Spacing rules Copy

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End-of-sentence spacing rules

The spacing rules for end-of-sentence punctuation are simple.

  • No spaces before the end-of-sentence punctation.
  • Only one space after the end-of-sentence punctation, ahead of the next sentence in that paragraph.
  • No spaces after the end-of-sentence punctation, if it’s the final sentence in a paragraph.

If you learnt to type decades ago, you will automatically type two spaces after a full stop. STOP IT!

Why is there only one space after a full stop?

Didn’t we all tap the space bar twice when we were taught how to type? Yes, that’s what was taught when we were using manual typewriters.

With the advent of software which allowed for full justification of text, things changed.

The algorithm for justification involves counting spaces — assumed to be the gaps between words — and counting the number of character spaces to be filled, and then allocating these equally among the spaces.

The net result is, if you have two spaces after a full stop, once fully justified, you might have four spaces —  and that creates overly large ‘holes’ on the page.


Review your spacing!

Software tips

If you are using Scrivener, Edit / Text Tidying / Replace Multiple Spaces with Single Spaces will strip out any extraneous spacing in your manuscript.

This blog post goes into greater detail about creating a clean manuscript.