Spaces after period

New user here.

I use the 2-space-after-period format.

When I work in Word (2004 or 2008) I get just that.
When I work in TextEdit, the same.
When I work in Scrivener (which is calling TextEdit, as I understand) I get just that.

But when I ask Scrivener to compile a document in Word, and then I bring up that document in Word (either 2004 or 2008), I get an ordinary first space and then a second very wide space. The result is a lot of white space between sentences.

If I compile into RTF and then point Word at that RTF, I get the wide spacing.
If I compile into RTF and then point TextEdit at that RTF, I get normal spacing.

So…what’s going on? Can anybody point me to a setting? I realize it could be some sort of Word setting, but the fact that it never happens on a native Word document is puzzling.

I typically use Times New Roman 12, and I’m on Leopard.

Thanks. I’ve become very fond of Scrivener in a very short time. But I do have to send these compilations around and I don’t like the way they look.

Could you send a sample compiled document to me at support AT literatureandlatte DOT com?

Certainly. It’s on its way.

Hi, Monokakata,

For your interest and as an aside, I would like to recommend that you not put two spaces between sentences. The practice is pretty well despised by typographers and if your writing is for publication (print or web) all those double spaces will just have to be removed before anybody can do anything with your text.

Here is the disparaging wisdom from an absolute classic of typography:

“In the nineteenth century, which was a dark and inflationary age in typography and type design, many compositors were encouraged to stuff extra space between sentences. Generations of twentieth century typists were then taught to do the same, by hitting the spacebar twice after every period [full stop]. Your typing as well as your typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint Victorian habit. As a general rule, no more than a single space is required after a period, colon or any other mark of punctuation. —from Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style

I seem to recall reading somewhere an explanation of how the two-space thing got started long ago. I don’t remember any details, but the upshot is that the purpose of it was mooted long ago and now, from a typographic point of view it just creates unwanted visual “holes” in body text.

Anyway, that is the received view of two-spacing.

All Best,
Greg, fellow Scriv user

Investigating the file that Don sent me, it seems that an RTF file exported using the Apple text system and opened in Word has ligatures for spacing turned off by default, which means that double spaces don’t get compressed. There’s nothing particularly wrong about this - the spacing appears just as it is; but by default in documents created in Word, the spaces get compressed as ligatures are turned on.

To fix this, in Word, just select all the text and go to Format > Font…, then in the the Font panel that appears check “Enable all ligatures for document”.

All the best,

Keith, thank you.

And Greg – I’m sure you’re right. I learned to type on an upright (Underwood?) typewriter in middle school about 1956 or 1957. Not the Victorian Era but certainly one in which we were taught to use the double-space method.

A sixty-year habit’s going to die hard but I’ll give it a try. After I write this posting, of course.

I hadn’t thought about typographers but believe me, I’ve put in plenty of time writing code to strip out characters from files – characters that some other application or person put there because it suited them. So I do understand the “grrr…now I’ve got to strip out all the …” feeling. I will say that none of my editors (journals; magazines) ever complained, but maybe they were just being polite.

I agree (typesetter here)

The period double space was taken into account because of MONO SPACED fonts. With the advent of the computer and other font styles and typography the double space is no longer needed because each character has its own individual kerning space built into the font file which takes into account the space needed when a period is used. “double spacing” is actually not necessary unless you are using a monospaced font that does not contain special kerning tables built in for the period. Which to say is almost non-existent now a days. :slight_smile:

In the “older days” of offset printing when “typesetting” was actual lead letters the period had enough space built into the lead slug to allow enough space after a sentence (before this was when the double space was used because the characters used in typography did not allow for the extra space. With the advent of lead typesetting the space was taken into account and the practice of double spacing was stopped until the popularity of the mono spaced typewritter came to be widely used). It wasn’t until the typewriter came around that the “needed” double space came back because in order to save moeny on production typewriter keys were MONO SPACED at first and the period did NOT have enough space hence the “double space” came back into being. Around the 70’s many manufacturers began experminenting with AUto Kerned Lettering (Each letter had its own kerning values instead of monospace font styles). Many of the typewriters with the “letter ball” that could be switched out to introduce a new “font” on a typewriter were such devices. But old habits die hard and people still taught to double space after a period (on a typewriter) even though it was only needed if the typewriter itself was using a mono spaced font.

When computer typography came popular and word processors were being used, the double space was no longer needed because the actual font style took into account the space needed for a period. With the computer era the double space is no longer taught because about all standard fonts have kerning values for each individual character unless you use a custom monospace font that does NOT contain the special period character that already contains the space. (which usually you would need a custom designed font for this)

In other words.
Remember when cars did not have turn signals and people used hand signals? Well if you saw someone on a rainy day driving a brand new car roll down their window and use hand signals when they were turning you instead of using their turn signal you would find that behavior quite odd.

Since the invention of lead slug typography and then the invention of the multi font type writer the “double space” has been automatically taken into account and replaced because it was found that having the kerning value automatically in the font style instead of mono space fonts not only saved paper and costs of printing but it also saved time on wasted keystrokes.

A little history there.

Another funny one is the term “Leading” when it comes to typography. The space between one line of text and another.

I hear people pronounce it “Leading” (Like I would lead someone to a location or I am leading the way)

instead of the proper pronunciation which sounds like lead, like in a lead door “lead ing” (led ing) The metal lead.

The term is derived from when offset printing used lead slugs for printing. To put “spacing” between two lines of type they would put in a lead slug of a determined width, hence the term “leading”.

Just thought I would share that. :slight_smile:

Wock –

That’s interesting stuff.

I used an IBM Selectric for years, but I never thought to inspect the space after a period. Of course the machine’s long gone. I absolutely remember how wonderful that correcting business was.

I hadn’t known about the pronunciation of “leading,” but it does lead to some amusing sentences. Earlier I mentioned time spent stripping out unwanted characters. I was in a business where a lot of the character strings were times (00:00:00.00) and one of the things I always did was to strip out leading zeros. In other words, “00:35:20.99” is best rendered as “35:20.99.”

So all together let’s speak the sentence: “you adjust the leadings and I’ll strip out the leadings.”


Leading the way in stripping out the leading zeroes and I will make sure the leading in the typestyle is correct.


I’ve got to add one last point: Years ago, back in the hot lead days of newspapering, a printer told me that in typesetting, two spaces after a period created ugly “rivers” of white down snaking down the newspaper column. One space keeps everything neat and typographically pristine.

In newspaper writing, sentences are usually short and paragraphs are kept short as well – only one, two, or three sentences per paragraph. It’s easier on the reader that way. As a result, of course, the typical news story contains lots of paragraphs. And it’s the indents for the paragraphs that catch the reader’s eye, not the space between sentences.

Isn’t it enough to be old and have to try and see what my mobile phone is saying without having to retrain myself to use a single space after a period? Dammit.

No. It isn’t enough until you have to go next door and find a child under the age of ten who is willing to show you how to set the clock that is supposed to set itself. Then and only then can we declare it “enough”.

I shall quote a song from the band Rise Against
I think they say it best. :slight_smile:

[size=150][i]is this the point where we give up?
now is this the point where we give in?
now is this the point where we turn ourselves in?

or is this the time to ask questions?
or is this the time to seek answers?
now is this the time to throw it all in?

when enough is enough that’s when you know that you’re halfway there
when enough is enough that’s when you know that you’re halfway there
you’re halfway there
that’s when you know that you’re halfway there[/i][/size]

Um, no, it’s definitely the time to throw it all in.