How old are you? Believe it or not how many spaces you put after a period, or other punctuation, at the end of a sentence can giveaway your age.
My mother taught typing to college students. Yes, typing on a typewriter. When I was growing up, household computers were not a thing. We still used typewriters, and because my mom taught keyboarding, she felt it was important my brother and I knew the proper placement of our fingers on a keyboard. Every summer, my brother and I took turns at the typewriter pounding out typing drills. And as much as I despised those lessons, they certainly paid off.
My father was a computer science professor, so when computers started entering the household, we were one of the first families among my friends to have a home computer. School papers just became a whole lot easier. As more and more people bought computers, I noticed my friends had to hunt and peck their way through typing a document. It took them forever to type a book report for school. For once, I was thankful for my mom’s insistence that I learn the correct to type.
Just like our tools for typing have changed over the years, the way we type has evolved too. I’m sure you’ve noticed that grammar rules tend to change with the times. For example, it is ok to end a sentence with a preposition. Once upon a time, that was a big no-no. Just as grammar rules have changed, so have some of the rules with punctuation.
Today, it is no longer necessary to add an extra space after the punctuation at the end of a sentence. The two-space rule came about with typewriters. Originally, typewriters gave each letter the same amount of space in width, meaning a skinny “l” and a wide “m” took up the same amount of horizontal space. As a result, words were not as compact, and the extra space at the end of the sentence helped readers identify the start of a new sentence.
Computers do not use the same spacing as typewriters. Each letter is given its own width, and words are more compact. Because the word spacing has changed, it is easier for readers to visually identify the end and beginning of sentences, so typesetters agree that only one space is needed between sentences.
So, now that typewriters are a thing of the past, using two spaces between sentences signals to your readers how old you are – as old as a typewriter!