Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Consistent Spacing.

Consistent Spacing

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 8, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

There is an unwritten rule in typesetting that there should only be one space after the end of a sentence. This provides the best visual appearance on a printed page, particularly when using proportional typefaces.

I'll run down a tangential path here for just a moment: I know that many people (including myself) were taught in the days of typewriters that you should put two spaces at the end of a sentence. Note that typing (as with a typewriter) is different than typesetting (as with a magazine article or a book). This tip is talking about the rule in typesetting. The two major style guides (Chicago and AP) specify that a single space should be used, as do all the minor style guides (Turabian, MLA, etc.). So, my comment that there is a rule of only a single space after the end of sentences stands as, well, a rule, despite what I or anyone else learned when we were pounding away on typewriters in earlier decades.

Now, back to the main path: The problem is that it is easy to add additional spaces at the end of a sentence without even realizing it. The following macro, CheckSpaces, is a tool you can use to double-check the end of your sentences:

Sub CheckSpaces()
    Call MakeChanges("Normal", ".")
    Call MakeChanges("Normal", "!")
    Call MakeChanges("Normal", ":")
End Sub
Sub MakeChanges(StyName As String, PuncMark As String)
    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory
    Selection.Find.ClearFormatting
    Selection.Find.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles(StyName)
    Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
    With Selection.Find
        .Text = PuncMark & "  "
        .Replacement.Text = PuncMark & " "
        .Forward = True
        .Wrap = wdFindContinue
        .Format = True
    End With
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    While Selection.Find.Found
        Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Wend
End Sub

CheckSpaces will only take extra spaces out of paragraphs formatted with the Normal style. This ensures you won't mess up formatting in tables or other design elements where you may want extra spaces after periods. If you want to change the type of punctuation searched for, or search in different style paragraphs, add additional calls to MakeChanges after the fourth line in the CheckSpaces macro.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9695) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Consistent Spacing.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 1 - 0?

2022-10-09 21:24:48

Ken

Why not just do a simple Find and Replace (Ctrl + H)?

Replace: [Enter two spaces in this field.]
Replace with: [Enter one space in this field.]


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