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People Really Hate Being Told to Put Only One Space After a Period

Who knew people felt so strongly about the number of spaces you’re supposed to put after a period?

I certainly didn’t when I published this piece on Monday. I thought I was performing a genuine public service, informing people who never received the memo that putting two spaces after a period is an outdated, unnecessary construction. I expected an outpouring of support and thanks from people who were freed from the tyranny of that unsightly second space.

For the Love of God, Stop Putting Two Spaces After a Period

And while I did receive a few emphatic “Thank yous!” from typography wonks who’ve wasted their lives editing extraneous spaces from transcripts, the vast majority of responses were ones telling me to go fuck myself (both explicitly and implicitly). I’ve never been one to shy away from controversy. I’ve written about a breadth of contentious subjects, including Men’s Rights Activists, liberal couples fighting over the 2016 Democratic Party race, the lunacy of Trump supporters and gun salesmen. Still, none of those stories were as polarizing as my article on period spacing.

Here are some of my favorite angry responses:

“Fuck You”

Some responders had one simple message for me:

This Isn’t Worth My Time

My favorite brand of angry internet commenter, however, is the one who tells me how little he—and it’s almost always a he — cares about the subject matter, and how it’s not worth his time or consideration, without a hint of irony.

Imagine, indeed, squareandrare. I appreciate you and the others taking the time out of your very important, very busy days to tell me this article was beneath you.

The One-Space Rule is Ageist

Some people accused me of ageism and/or being an entitled millennial:

“Typical millennial arswipe [sic] that thinks everything ‘he wants’ is the way it should be for everyone,” writes Medium user Bob Trollman. (Great username, btw.)

Two Spaces Makes for a Superior Reading Experience

“I sense your despair, however, two spaces after a period is proper, both grammatically and from a graphic design point of view relative to document design,” writes Medium user Dan Darnell. “Sentences are easier to read and almost all literature honors this standard.”

Again, this is wrong. Consider that every single major book, magazine and newspaper published in the past two decades uses only one space after each period (with minimal exception), and you rarely hear complaints about how generally unreadable the printed word is.

Angry Responses That Used Only One Space After Each Period

Many of the people angry about the one-space rule sent responses that adhered to the one-space rule. Take user seattlehascoffee, for example:

Too bad you don’t like something. Really sorry to hear that. Still putting the two spaces after the period, as the Good Lord intended. Unless a defective textbox app designer forces me not to.

The irony! This is partially because Medium, the publishing platform MEL uses, doesn’t allow users to put two spaces after a period, as this angry commenter pointed out: “Don’t think for a second I didn’t immediately notice your comment app forces a single space after periods.”

For the record, I didn’t create Medium. Ev Williams did (but more on him later).

There is only one space after these periods.

A lot of Facebook commenters said they preferred two spaces, even though their comments clearly show only space after each period. This is presumably because they were commenting from a smartphone, where double-tapping the spacebar creates a period, a single space and the start of a new sentence. They unwittingly made my point for me.

I Have Zero Interest in Changing

This was the most common reaction of all, regardless of age. One woman emailed me that I need to “respect tradition.” “Apparently, this is what happens when they take cursive writing out of the curriculum,” she says.

“I learned to type in the 1950s, and type close to a hundred [word per minute],” writes Charlton Stanley, for instance. “I am not about to slow down to please the one-space crowd. Deal with it.”

Stanley wrote each sentence as its own paragraph, presumably so he wouldn’t be forced to use Medium’s one-space standard.

Well played, one-spacers. Well played.

One Smart Man Who Agrees With Me

This guy gets it: