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It seems accepted amongst typographers that the double space after a period is a dated artifact of monospace typewriters, but is it acceptable to use a double space in between sentences like:

I trust Dr. Wang. Dr. Wang is very experienced.

Sure, you could rework the wording or even make this a single sentence with a conjunction, but what's the best way to typeset these two exact sentences in a proportional typeface?

Doesn't a double space help?

I trust Dr. Wang.  Dr. Wang is very experienced.

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    In German typography you use a spatium (half space) between title and name. That shows that title and name belong togehther. Then a space is okay afte the sentence point. I do not know if it is same in English. – Mensch Aug 13 '13 at 10:38
  • I would be fine with a half-space after the "Dr." Although that's not common usage in English, there's nothing wrong with it. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Aug 13 '13 at 10:52
  • Personally in that example I'd use a semi-colon (or comma) sentence since the two statements are related (yet independent), though that's more of a grammar thing than a typography thing. It also can't be used for everything like this e.g. I've not met Dr. Wang. Dr. Kazarmous is a good doctor, I like her manner has the same problem and wouldn't suit a semi-colon or comma (though maybe a long dash or an elipsis would work here, to suggest an extended pause and change of subject...) – user56reinstatemonica8 Aug 13 '13 at 15:24
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    So, LaTeX has embedded style rules (about which one can argue over correctness) that differentiation between a space between sentences and between words: tex.stackexchange.com/a/2236/13600. Compare standard LaTeX spacing, single spacing (advocated here) and double spacing: alecjacobson.com/weblog/media/… – Alec Jacobson Aug 24 '13 at 10:34
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+50

NO, no, no, no, no. Double spaces are never necessary when using proportional fonts. Not if your sentences are one word each, two words each, two paragraphs each, or six pages long.

The best way to typeset those two exact sentences in a proportional font is correctly: with one space after the period.

Two spaces just makes my eye trip. Genuinely. I feel myself tripping over the D of Dr. and doubling back to figure out why there's such a gap between the sentences.

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    +1. Defintely not! Presumably it's the full-stop after Dr which is causing the issue. If that's what is making it look wrong, just write Dr Wang without a dot. – Andrew Leach Aug 13 '13 at 10:10
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    Eh, I don't think you can skip the full stop after "Dr." because it's an abbreviation. We're not talking about the soda Dr Pepper here. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Aug 13 '13 at 10:52
  • Of course you can; it depends only on style rules. In fact I was taught at school that if the abbreviation finishes with the last letter of the word itself (like Doctor/Dr) it's better not to include it. Perhaps it's a British thing. – Andrew Leach Aug 13 '13 at 11:16
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    @AndrewLeach That must be a British thing; I have never heard of such a rule in the U.S. We're explicitly taught that you should never drop the period (full stop). But that's a regional difference, which is fine. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Aug 13 '13 at 13:32
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    Well, traditional typesetters would do much more complicated job than we think. They've always had sheets of trash paper by hand, and they used small pieces of paper put inbetween the words together with the interword spacer to increase the space if necessary. They had a different spacer after the full stop (I actually think that some of the studios had letters with interword spaces and punctuation with both interword and increased spaces ready in the boxes to save time) and were willing to stuck quite a lot after a full stop if the line somehow didn't "fit in". – yo' Oct 28 '14 at 21:20
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Ok, three things:

  1. Single spaces after periods is recommended in the AP Stylebook, the Modern Language Association style guide and the Chicago Manual of Style. Go with that. Nothing is more distracting than something that looks like a grammar error, so single spacing is your best bet.
  2. That said, consistency is king. If you use double spaces after periods, always use double spaces. If you use single spaces, always use single spaces. The abbreviated title here doesn't matter; just do whatever you did in the rest of the document.
  3. If you're dealing with this issue in a headline, use the single space and achieve balance with careful kerning and word spacing adjustments. I agree that the single space looks a bit awkward if I stare at it long enough, but the double space looks worse. It's way too heavy-handed.
  • Overall, I like this answer. But (a) Isn't word spacing just fine tuning the double-space (to be a 1.8 space or whatever), many environments, like a web-form, won't allow that kind of adjustment and (b) is consistency really king? Consistency's a tautology that's broken down before: see Oxford comma ambiguities en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma#Ambiguity – Alec Jacobson Aug 13 '13 at 17:38
  • @mangledorf No, you have it wrong. The fact that both with the Oxford comma and without it, you can get ambiguities doesn't mean that you should use it inconsistently. You have to use it consistently, and re-word your statements if the ambiguity is semantic as well, and not only syntactic. – yo' Oct 28 '14 at 21:14
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    Rewording our language for the sake of consistent punctuation is a rather extreme form of linguistic prescription. Punctuation's a way of approximating some aspects of spoken language in written form. In these cases, I think we're seeing how that approximation can fail. Sometimes one can reword a written sentence to avoid this failure, but other times (e.g. transcriptions of speech) it's not okay to just change the wording. – Alec Jacobson Oct 29 '14 at 15:47
  • The AP Style Guide is intended for authors whose work needs to be essentially indistinguishable from each other. If 2/3 of authors would use two spaces after sentence-ending full stops and 1/3 use one, conforming everything to use one will be much easier than conforming everything to use two (since the latter would require figuring out which abbreviations mark the ends of sentences and which ones don't). I don't think it was ever intended as a guide for quality typesetting. – supercat Nov 30 '17 at 19:49
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I preface answers like this with the disclaimer that you can do whatever you want with English, really. Make up a word and get enough people to say it, and it'll find its way into the OED. You can learn all of the technical rules of typography, or you can pull a David Carson and blow up all of the rules. Language is really cool like that, and English's heritage in particular is just that: constant evolution.

That being said, I have never seen an instance where one document intentionally contains single and double spaces after periods. So, doing so would be very unconventional.

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    It is recommended practice in TeX, though. Donald Knuth prescribes using a "fixed width space" after a period in a contraction, which serves two purposes: the "Dr." will never separate from its "Wang", and the 'fixed' width space will grow with about half the speed of a regular space in justification. – usr2564301 Jun 12 '15 at 21:45
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No. Neither typographers nor editors would permit your example to survive a manuscript.

EDIT: If I were forced to use such a configuration, I would kern the punctuation marks to minimize the yawning chasm created visually by the excessive counterform spaces.

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