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So for the same reason that double-spacing typewritten lines is the norm, using two word spaces after periods is, too.It’s a question of balancing the white space bound up in each character with the spaces around them.
It’s the debate that refuses to die: Do you set one word space or two after a period?
In all my years of writing about type, it’s still the question I hear most often, and a search of the web will find threads galore on the subject.
But clearly, from a historical perspective, there’s no reason that such doubling should be banned, either.
The problem with doing so these days is that it looks like a mistake.
The texture and color of each line of type is much more even.
In these faces, the word space is part of the team, proportioned to work individually, creating a spacing break between sentences that’s neither jarring nor too wimpy.
This allows the typewriter to have a simple mechanism for advancing the page as you type, with the carriage (or the typing mechanism) moving a fixed amount after each keystroke, regardless of which character is set: Capitals, lowercase characters, punctuation marks, spaces, everything gets the same (which is the word for that machine movement).
Characters in monospaced typefaces look weird, forced by mechanical necessity onto a Procrustean bed.
We’re not used to seeing these white holes peppering the page, so the wider spaces look inappropriately large.
Interestingly, by the 1960s, electronic phototypesetting systems went as far as ignoring consecutive word spaces altogether when they appeared in text.