Are You Still a Two-Space Holdout? Better Get with It!

by Memoir Mentor on January 18, 2011

Most of my students learned to type on typewriters long before computer keyboards were developed. High school typing classes taught us to space twice between sentences. There is a reason for this: typewriters use monospace type, with every letter occupying the same amount of horizontal space. As a result, monotype text has an uneven look to it, with more white space around certain letters than others. Two spaces after a period clearly sets sentences apart from each other. With the advent of computers and proportional fonts, where an “i” takes up less space than an “m,” for example, the two-space rule became as passé as the two-step.

Old habits die hard. My students submit stories that confirm it. Riddled with telltale two-spaced white blotches, these stories tell me their authors updated their equipment, but not their mindset. When I explain the one-space rule in class each term, I often see doubt flicker in their eyes for a second. Oh, they try to hide it, but I can hear them saying to themselves, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

For the doubters among you, go here for a superb explanation of why I’m right and you just may be wrong. While you’re at it, you may want to consider dropping a few other typewriter habits you’re still clinging to, habits like…

  • Underlining, instead of using italics
  • Using two hyphens, instead of the dash
  • Indenting paragraph beginnings by hitting the space key five times, instead of using the tab key
  • Using your mouse like a carriage return at the end of each line, instead of letting your text wrap all by itself

If you began the new year resolving to drop some old habits, add these no-no’s to your list.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan Petersen January 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

THANK YOU! These are my pet peeves from my colleagues from the typewriter generation. I gave up the 2-space back in 1975 and never looked back.

2 Memoir Mentor January 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Good for you! I went to your website ( and saw all the wonderful genealogy tips you offer, especially for folks with Nebraska roots. Best of luck with your research and all the good work you’re doing.

3 Janie Winkler Soto January 24, 2011 at 8:42 am


I am considering begining a new career direction, as a Personal Historian.

Wondering if you can recommend the best sources for online classes/information.

Thank you,


4 Memoir Mentor January 25, 2011 at 8:35 am

You asked the right question to the right person. Have you heard of the Association of Personal Historians? It’s for people who are in the business of helping people put together personal histories in a variety of mediums. I’ve been a member for a number of years and am currently on the board of directors. It’s an excellent professional organization, international in scope, with talented, generous members who collaborate with each other in multiple ways. Go to their website (, and check out their vast offerings. They’re in the process of re-doing the site, but it’s still a few months away. I can’t recommend this organization highly enough for someone starting a personal history business. APH hosts an annual conference each fall–this year in Las Vegas–that offers a variety of superb classes and workshops. You should try to attend. I think you’d find it a huge help to you and your new business.
Good luck,

5 Janie Winkler Soto January 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Thank you for your reply Dawn. Yes I have the website bookmarked and have been reading through it. I’m very excited about learning as much as I can to put my all into helping people put their story in paper, pictures and/or video too.

Thank you,


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