Study: two spaces after a period makes reading easier

Can’t we just agree to hate people who put spaces before punctuation, especially question and exclamation marks?


You mean the French?


but the mimeograph fluid is downright intoxicating!


If you are using a typewriter, or a text editor with a monospace font, and you find two spaces after a full stop makes things more legible, by all means use two spaces.

And if you’re using a proportional font and you want to put a wider space after a full stop for the same reasons, be my guest.

But if you’re using a proportional font and you put two physical spaces after a full stop, so help me I will come round your house and cut your fingers off glower judgmentally at you.


Ya know, I’ve heard so many other people claim that, and yet I never got it. I could smell the fluid, but I just thought it was smelly, not desirable. I think you need to do a study to see if it’s like cilantro, where the love it or hate it relationship is 100% dependent on whether your ‘cilantro gene’ makes it tastes wonderfully green and sweet…or makes it taste like dish soap.


Yes! This is a perfect thread for arguing taste!


Mind you, the reading-speed improvement with double spaces was only 3%, so we’re talking about a pretty tiny delta here.

Oh that’s just the start of the reasons this study tells us nothing meaningful. The choices made by the researchers are bizarre.

They only assessed the effect with a non-proportional (fixed-width) font, not a proportional (variable-width) that most written text is inevitably displayed in.

They assessed the effect in written paragraphs with “quadruple spacing” which nobody uses ever.

They assessed the effect on a shitty 15 year old CRT monitor, not on paper or a screen anybody today would actually be using.

The improvement was limited only to people who themselves use two spaces when they type. No effect for one spacers.

These are bizarre research design choices. I can’t imagine why the authors would deliberately choose to create such a study environment so divorced from meaningful, real world conditions.


I don’t particularly care how many spaces anyone uses to end a sentence. But I do care about how science gets reported in the media, and this seems to be a case study in everything bad about science reporting. The paper itself is an exceptionally bad piece of science. It consists of a large number of tests for statistical significance on a study design that has no theoretical basis. The key concept in the 1 vs 2 space argument is to do with the difference in readability of proportional fonts vs fixed width. The study didn’t look at this. Nor did they address the question of which population they are sampling from. They just ran their experiments with a group of students. Not surprisingly, they found a statistically significant result among all their tests and assumed it indicated a real (but very weak) effect. It almost certainly did not. The press picked it up, and in their usual way, presented it as a definitive study. And the paper is behind a paywall, so very few people can read it.

The most relevant xkcd cartoon to this situation is this one:


Maybe they tried all sorts of combinations and this was the only one where double-spacing helped. The other results they just didn’t report. Which is exactly the kind of tactic I’d expect from the double-spacers.


I’m not familiar with this nomenclature. Are these the citizens of the Second Foundation?


Don’t blame me, I voted for the Meadow party:


I’m a two-spacer. Learned on a manual typewriter before “keyboarding” was a thing. You’ll pry my double-space-after-period from my cold, dead thumbs!


b-b-but, I finally just trained myself not to use two spaces after 30 years of doing so.




But those were great!
Even without the magic fluid!




one space, not two - you feckless savages!!! :wink:


I find the number of XKCD references made thusfar incredibly apropos for this thread.


I have always understood that the preference for one space after a period dated from the WordStar/Word Perfect days . The way I heard it, early word processors interpreted the extra space as a character. This would mess up justified monospaced text if the space fell at the end or at the beginning of a line.

Oh, and in case someone hasn’t already mentioned it, the duplicator with the “carbon paper” masters and intoxicating fluid was a Ditto machine. Ditto was a brand name; the generic name was “spirit duplicator.” The Mimeograph (another brand name) used a kind of printing ink. You typed text onto stencils made of some strange paper-cloth stuff. When the stencils were mounted on a drum, ink inside the drum seeped through the typed areas on the stencils and was transferred to sheets of paper as they were fed through the machine.


Agreed. Also, mandatory Oxford commas for all.