Believe it or not, it matters. So here’s the short answer – one space.
It may seem like a trivial point but attention to detail is what sets an organization apart from its competition. Everything we write at The Deciding Factor, including this blog, follows the rule. Consistency and frequency are the keys to successful marketing, and it starts with one little space. Read on for three different perspectives on this issue from our agency team members.
First – The Designer
By Lisa Higgins
Believe it or not, typography is an art and a science. Fonts have been analyzed, studied and perfected over centuries to make sure that legibility and elegance are on point. Every little detail is tweaked and perfected down to fractions of fractions of an inch to be optimized for ease of reading and visual appeal. One detail that is never overlooked is the white space between characters.
Being the type nerd that I am, I could ramble about the logistics of tracking and kerning to perfection, but let’s save that for another time. When it comes to spacing after punctuation, the explanation is plain and simple – great fonts are designed to be legible with appropriate spacing. When you add an extra space, you destroy the elegance and design of the font you’re working in. Let’s just say, two spaces after punctuation is a visual no-no.
Extra spaces disrupt the balance of white space in your piece. When you add up all of those white spaces across the page, you create what we call rivers of space throughout your paragraphs. This disrupts the visual flow of the piece and makes the content difficult for the audience to read.
If you’re interested, this article offers fantastic insights into the issue.
Second – The Journalist
By Karen Vance
I’ve always answered this question from a purely old school newspaper writer’s point of view. Paper and ink cost money when you print it on the scale of a metropolitan daily paper. That means you must conserve and use fewer words when you can. It applies to punctuation and space too. It may seem nitpicky, but an extra space after every period will add up across the space of a newspaper.
But why does that matter in marketing and public relations? If you’re trying to get third-party endorsement from a publication, the goal is to get picked up and be considered an authoritative source. It’s a fast-paced world, and if you make it possible for reporters to cut and paste your text, it’s that much easier for them to use your content. One space gives them the format they’re already using. Great public relations is more than just great content and newsworthiness. It’s about making it easy for the reporters.
And why does it matter now that so much of what we do isn’t printed? It’s all about branding and consistency. If you’re using a single space in some materials and two spaces in others, you just look different. Maybe not everyone will be able to pick up on it, but it’s there. If your reader does notice, then you look lazy or as though you don’t care. Safest bet – consistently apply today’s standard. One space.
Last – The Strategist
By Karen Meyers Holzer
Look I get, I’ve been there. Changing a habit is hard to break – even if it’s as simple as going from using two spaces between sentences to using only one.
I was taught to use two spaces in typing class in high school when I was an impressionable teen (ok, I just dated myself). It’s been really hard to break the habit even though I wholeheartedly agree with the reasons to only use one space.
It’s like chip and dip. Beer and pretzels. Wine and cheese. If one learns certain things go together at a very young age (punctuation and two spaces, for example), it’s forever imprinted in one’s brain. Even though one fancies oneself as a progressive, forward thinking professional, habits die hard. They are difficult to adopt and harder to break.
But, it’s still not a good enough reason to keep using two spaces. It’s a running joke in our office because I still do it unconsciously from time to time. But take my advice — don’t let your company and your marketing materials look old fashioned or out-of-date. Use one space.