Friday, January 21, 2011

One-Spacers vs. Two-Spacers

A fierce Internet debate is raging about whether writers should insert one space or two between sentences.  While the discussion gives new meaning to Seinfeld's catch phrase “a show about nothing,” it has aroused strong feelings on both sides.  Farhad Manjoo’s vehement argument for one space on has generated 2144 comments as of this posting.  Manjoo argues that the two-space practice is archaic, a hangover from the monospaced fonts of typewriter days, and that current style guides prescribe a single space.  Proponents of the two-space approach say it enhances readability. 

Two major style manuals on legal writing adhere to the one-space approach.  See Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers at 41 and Bryan Garner’s Redbook Rule 4.12.

When the subject came up recently in my legal writing class, the students were almost evenly divided on the topic, and many were firmly entrenched in their views.  I told them I’ll accept either practice. 

If the computer doesn’t tamper with my spacing, readers of this post will see that I still favor the two-space approach for my own writing.


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