The Innovative Marketer's Blog

One or Two Spaces After a Period: Which is Right for Inbound Marketers?

Posted by Matthew Cook on Sep 29, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Has it been a while since you had to worry about any of the rules of writing?

For many business owners and marketers, the giddiness of discovering the revenue-growing, lead-generating, online reach-enhancing power of inbound marketing is tempered somewhat by the realization that you’re going to have to dredge up writing skills that you happily left behind you in college composition class.

If you’re just getting back into writing after years of focusing on other things—like building your business—here’s the first thing you’ll have to come to terms with: A lot has changed since college.

You’re no longer writing for that demanding but lovable old English prof. You’re writing for an online audience that is quick to judge, easily distracted, and busy with a million other things.

This online audience has certain expectations, among them, a single space after a period (or question mark, or any other end-of-sentence punctuation).

‘But That’s Not I Was Taught!’

I know. Same here. For various reasons typographical (which I won’t delve into here), the prevailing wisdom in the 20th Century was that two spaces between sentences looked better than one. With the advent and now dominance of online content, those reasons are no longer relevant.

To answer the question posed by the title of this article (remember those impatient online readers I mentioned?), inbound marketers should never double space after a period.

‘But I Love Double Spacing; I’m Attached to It.’

I sympathize with that, too.

I got the idea to write this article after reading yesterday’s Bloom County (yes, the 80’s are back, just not in typographical form) on my Facebook feed. In it, a character laments, “If they can steal the space between our sentences, they’ll come for the hope between our doubts.” The extra space, she says, is where “dreams and magic and life’s infinite possibilities find a fleeting foothold.”

That’s a beautiful idea, but the thing is, your inbound marketing content is not the place to take a stand for your deeply held but contrarian beliefs regarding punctuation and typography. With so much content competing for their attention, readers make split second decisions about what to read and what not to read, and very often, those decisions are based on tiny signifiers of quality, like a single space following a period.

As an inbound marketer, the best reason to single space between sentences is:

Everybody’s Doing It

If your competitors are offering sloppy, amateurish content on their sites, a quick way to gain the advantage with prospective customers is to provide more professional content. To online readers, professional content is just content that matches the tone, writing style, and format they’ve come to expect from high quality websites, the sites they return to again and again.

Let’s look at some of the leading content-driven websites and whether or not they double space between sentences. These are the sites you should be striving to emulate, if not in terms of content, then in terms of style, as these are the sites your prospects associate with “good content.”

Site

One Space or Two?

Wikipedia

One

BuzzFeed

One

ESPN

One

CNN

One

HubSpot

One

 

How to Break the Double Space Habit

Double spacing after a period is a hard habit to break; it’s locked into our muscle memories. It would be great if website platforms like HubSpot removed the extra space for you, but they don’t. For example, I’m writing this article in HubSpot and look.  Two spaces.

I lost the habit permanently after getting yelled at repeatedly for it by newspaper editors at the beginning of my career. If you don’t have an ink-stained crotchety copy editor on staff, there’s another way.

Just write your article first in Microsoft Word and then use the “Replace” function to search for all “  ” and replace them with “ ”. (You can find more information on how to do that here.)

More Ideas for Beginning Inbound Marketers

If you’re new to inbound marketing and looking for more ways to professionalize your writing, check out my recent post, “4 Stupid Content Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them).”

If you think you’ve got this writing thing down and are ready to get down to strategy, learn the “3 Things You Need to Know Before You Try Inbound Marketing” in our free guide.

3 Questions About Inbound Marketing Everyone Is Asking

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Blogging, Content Marketing