The use of single space versus double space in typing documents has long been a matter of debate for many writers. Many individuals from either camp insist that their spacing style is the correct one, and they never run out of reasons to back their respective claims up.
However, to me—as a writer and as a big proponent of freedom of expression—I consider both styles acceptable and correct, so long as the writer is consistent about it.
Looking Back to the Typewriter Age
Since the commercial accessibility of the computer (the writing / document-processing software Microsoft Word, in particular), circa early ’90s, I have been using a single space after a period. But, I remember back in my elementary and highschool days (and even in early university), in the 1980s, when the available tool for writing term papers was the typewriter, I used to put two spaces after a period. I learned this from school and from my mother who worked as a secretary in her younger days. That was the standard for many writers and publications during that era. Some said that it had something to do with the printing process; some said it was for aesthetic reason; some said they didn’t know but they just followed what they’ve been used to doing. Personally, I simply followed what I learned at school as a standard.
Being a Single Spacer
Now, why do I use one space instead of two? Initially, it’s just for brevity and to save space. In the context of a 30-page essay or a 300-page novel, using one space after every period instead of two will have given me extra few pages at the most—depending on the length of my sentences. But thinking about it, having saved an extra page or two is not a really big deal. That’s when I realized that the spacing after a period, after all, boils down to personal preference or depends on the requirement or preference of the publisher one is writing for. Meaning, there should really be no question of which is right and which is wrong between the use of single space and the use of double space. The only key that I take into consideration is the consistency of use: One, at the least, has to maintain the same spacing after a period (whether single or double) all throughout a single document or project. After all, if the reason is aesthetics, then this is subjective; if to save space, then extra few pages (in the context of a lengthy novel) or just a few lines (in the case of a 10-page article) that amounted from all the extra single spaces saved are not really a big waste.
If the writer prefers single space (like me), then s/he should be free to apply it–so long as the use of a single space is consistent all throughout a particular work. If s/he prefers double spacing, which is practically just being consistent with the typewriter age, then s/he should be—in the same freedom of expression—free to do so. Then again, as long as the use of double spacing is maintained in one single document or body of work.
The Last Leaf
What I am not in support of is some people’s penchant to instill that unnecessary sense of guilt for almost anything that other individuals choose to take especially when such a choice is different from theirs even if the action does not gravely harm anyone anyway.
So, single space or double space? Take your pick. Just be consistent!