Make this tiny punctuation mistake on your cover letter and you may not get hired

Following a series of ongoing studies, Microsoft has officially decided that one space after a period is correct, as opposed to two.

Going forward, Word documents will highlight two spaces after a period as an error and will offer suggestions through the editor capabilities featured on their various app. These suggestions can be ignored of course, but the change suggests a shift in grammatical standards adhered to by insiders.

Those who still contend that two intervals are the way to go or are at least still defensible in the 21st century are likely byproducts of the typewriter era.

Old fashioned typewriters utilized monospaced fonts to distribute an equal amount of horizontal spacing to every character. To allow narrow characters like “l” to get the same amount of space as characters like “m”  an extra space was required after punctuation ending a sentence. This way it was clear that a clause had come to a conclusion. 

With digital apps that make fonts proportional, two spaces are no longer necessary. Even with these developments into consideration, two spacers still retained grammatical ground for some time. 

This all changed when Denver resident, Alan Chen entered viral fame after the doc he was engaged on flagged the two areas he typically leaves after an interval as an error.

“The one spacers have gained,” Mr. Chen tweeted.“It’s fascinating. You’d suppose individuals would have extra to fret about throughout a pandemic.”

“As the crux of the great spacing debate, we know this is a stylistic choice that may not be the preference for all writers, which is why we continue to test with users and enable these suggestions to be easily accepted, ignored, or flat out dismissed in Editor,” says Kirk Gregersen, partner director of program management at Microsoft, in a statement to The Verge.

There are academic validations in favor of multiple spaces. Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in Skidmore’s department of psychology, led a research team that explored the relationship between stimuli (specified in physical terms) and the sensations and perceptions evoked by these stimuli in respect to the great space debate. According to her research all readers benefit from having two spaces after periods.

In the Skidmore report, people who write with two spaces after periods evidence  an increase in reading speed of 3% when reading text with two spaces following periods, as compared to one. This equates to an average of nine additional words per minute above their performance under the one-space conditions.

“Increased spacing has been shown to help facilitate processing in a number of other reading studies,” Johnson explained in a release. “Removing the spaces between words altogether drastically hurts our ability to read fluently, and increasing the amount of space between words helps us process the text.”

In meantime, applying two spaces is appreciated as a stylistic preference among most circles. This may change as more systems acknowledge the outdated nature of the approach in favor of proportional font programs. 

“Placing two areas after an interval made sense within the mechanical age, when the letters produced by typewriters have been all the identical width. With a single area on the finish of a sentence, the web page appeared a bit cramped. Authorized professionals who commonly wade by dense paperwork loaded with citations are among the many loudest proponents,” Metropolitan News reports.

 CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com