Microsoft Word Now Flags Two Spaces After a Period as an Error

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Microsoft has settled the great space debate, and sided with everyone who believes one space after a period is correct, not two. The software giant has started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period (a full stop for you Brits) as an error, and to offer a correction to one space. Microsoft recently started testing this change with the desktop version of Word, offering suggestions through the Editor capabilities of the app.

Wake me up when Word starts flagging the use of Arial with “Did you mean to use Helvetica?” if you want to give Microsoft any credit at all for doing right by good typography.

The two-spaces thing has been a “debate” only in the way that wondering if the earth is round, or if man landed on the moon, or if you should smash up a couple of cherries and orange wedges while mixing an Old Fashioned, have ever been debates. One side has all the experts in agreement; the other side is wrong. Go look at a few professionally-typeset books — every single sentence on every page in every book has one space after the period.

If you have the double-space habit as a typist, you shouldn’t worry about it. Just go ahead and double-space and trust your software to do the right thing — either replacing your double spaces with a single space as you type or when you publish. Web browsers, for example, will all do the right thing. Most die-hard double-spacers don’t seem to know this, but from the get-go, HTML has specified collapsing runs of multiple spaces into a single space. You can type three or four spaces after each sentence if you want, but web browsers are going to render them as a single space. When you do see two spaces after a period on a webpage, the space-space sequence has been transmogrified into a non-breaking space ( ) followed by a normal space — a sure sign of typographically ignorant software somewhere in the publishing chain.

Saturday, 25 April 2020