Wading Into the “One-Space Vs. Two” Controversy

The great “one vs. two spaces after a period” debate has come to Impact in a major way. And not surprisingly, it seems to have broken down along generational lines.

Apparently using two spaces after a sentence is a relic of the typewriter days. Since older typewriters’ monospaced type meant that every character (including a space) took up the same amount of room, having an extra space between sentences supposedly made the copy easier to read.

But guys…monospaced type has gone the way of the dodo (unless you love to use Courier font, because you just miss typewriters so darned much). The Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook, and the MLA Handbook all agree: you should only have ONE space between each sentence.

Now I can hear some of my colleagues saying, “But, but, but, it’s still easier to read with two spaces!” Okay, I get that if you’re used to the extra space, it makes you feel more comfortable to read a letter with double spacing. And when it comes to the donors who read your direct mail letters, you probably assume they’re part of the over-40 crowd, too, so they probably like their spaces in pairs.

At the end of the day, when it comes to donor communications, your tradition and my aesthetic preferences don’t matter a whit. What matters is how your donors respond.

So, let me ask—has anyone actually tested this? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If your donors just love those two spaces, then keep on keepin’ on.

But unless someone can show me that it actually makes a difference to your donors, I’ll only use that extra space under extreme duress.

And for all of our sakes, I’ll leave the serif vs. san serif debate for another day.

Tell us: are you a one-spacer or a two-spacer?

– Posted by Julie Price

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