I had been taught from a young age that the proper format was two spaces after punctuation, but in 2001, entering my first year in college, I was told that the standard had changed to a single space. While it was never explained why, I assumed it was due to emergent messaging technologies and bandwidth requirements (one less space per punctuation in a large document could account for quite a bit of data). I’m curious as to why they felt the need to change back.
I was also taught to have 2 spaces when I first learned to type. The Owl lists the reason for 2 spaces as aiding in readibility. 🙂
Using two spaces after a period was a holdover from the days of typewriter text, when most standard fonts were monspaced. If all the letters are the same width, then having extra space between sentences enhances readability. With today’s proportionally spaced fonts, however, such spacing can actually detract from the typeset, so it is no longer appropriate to use more than one space at the end of a sentence. While schoolteachers trained on typewriters may continue to teach the old standard, most modern style guides do reflect this change. In regards to data storage and bandwidth, the effect of an extra space after each period in a text document, even a lengthy one, is so negligible as to be completely irrelevant and should not be a concern to writers.
I hate to admit that I remember the typewriter spacing. APA 6th edition now requires that students include that second space. My doctoral students have had to get used to this. If they submit with one space, schools will require that they change it for dissertation approval. I am old school so I like the two spaces. I had a hard time adjusting to the one space. Just when we get comfortable with the two spaces though, they will probably change it back. 😉
Your find/replace suggestion is not the best idea — it would replace every instance of something like U. S. with U. S. — and in APA, abbreviations like that are not uncommon… I can only imagine that many of those 2100 changes were not intended.
You make an excellent point. I have explained to my students, that it will change all spacing after periods. It may be easier to fix a few things that it should not have changed though, instead having to fix every single sentence.