In writing, a space ( ) is a blank area that word divider, Sentence spacing, (in syllabification) and other written or printed (characters). Conventions for spacing vary among languages, and in some languages the spacing rules are complex.
Typesetting uses spaces of varying length for specific purposes. The typewriter, on the other hand, can accommodate only a limited number of keys. Most typewriters have only one width of space, obtained by pressing the space bar. Following widespread acceptance of the typewriter, some spacing and other typewriter conventions, which were based on the typewriter's mechanical limitations, have influenced professional typography other designers of printed works.
Computer representation of text eliminates all mechanical and physical limitations in any sufficiently advanced character encoding environment (such as Unicode), where spaces of various widths, styles, or language characteristics (different space characters) are indicated with unique . Whitespace characters include spaces of various width, including all those that professional typesetters employ.
Use in natural languages
Modern English uses a space to separate words, but not all languages follow this practice. Spaces were not used to separate words in Latin
until roughly 600–800 CE. Biblical Hebrew
, while they didn't use spacing, used word-dividers partly to compensate in clarity for the Abjad
[ Saenger 2000, p. 10: ... the Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Syriac), when written without vowels, were virtually always written with word separation in antiquity and continued to be so transcribed into modern times, ...]
The earliest Greek script also used interpuncts to divide words, rather than spacing, although this practice was soon displaced by the scriptura continua
. The earliest signs of spacing between words appears in the Latin alphabet, where it was used extremely rarely in some manuscripts and then altogether forgotten. However, spacing was then reinvented into language through Irish and Anglo-Saxon scribes, and then with the creation of the Carolingian minuscule by Alcuin of York, where it originated and then spread to the rest of world, including modern Arabic and Hebrew. Indeed, the actions of these Irish and Anglo-Saxon scribes marked the dramatic shift for reading between antiquity and the modern period. Spacing would become standard in Renaissance
Italy and France, and then Byzantium by the end of the 16th century; then entering into the Slavic languages in Cyrillic
in the 17th century, and only in modern times entering modern Sanskrit
[Saenger, Paul. Space between words: The origins of silent reading. Stanford University Press, 1997, 9-14.]
Traditionally, all CJK
languages have no spaces: modern Chinese language
and Japanese (except when written with little or no kanji
) do not; on the other hand, modern Korean language
Runic texts use either an interpunct-like or a colon-like punctuation mark to separate words. There are two Unicode characters dedicated for this: and .
Languages with a Latin-derived alphabet have used various methods of sentence spacing since the advent of movable type in the 15th century.
One space (some times called French spacing, q.v.). This is a common convention in most countries that use the ISO basic Latin alphabet for published and final written work, as well as digital (World Wide Web) media.
usually do not differentiate between single and multiple spaces in source code when displaying text, unless text is given a "white-space" CSS attribute. Without this being set, collapsing strings of spaces to a single space allows HTML source code to be spaced in a more machine-readable way, at the expense of control over spacing of the rendered page.
Double space ( English spacing). It is sometimes claimed that this convention stems from the use of the monospaced font on typewriters.
However, instructions to use more spacing between sentences than words date back centuries, and two spaces on a typewriter was the closest approximation to typesetters' previous rules aimed at improving readability. Wider spacing continued to be used by both typesetters and typists until the Second World War, after which typesetters gradually transitioned to word spacing between sentences in published print, while typists continued the practice of using two spaces. [
, Wiley Australia, The Commonwealth Government of Australia Printing Office.
. ISBN 9780701636470
One widened space, typically one-and-a-third to slightly less than twice as wide as a word space. This spacing was sometimes used in typesetting before the 19th century. It has also been used in other non-typewriter typesetting systems such as the Linotype machine
[ cited in ] and the TeX system. Modern computer-based digital fonts can adjust the spacing after terminal punctuation as well, creating a space slightly wider than a standard word space. [; ; ]
No space. According to Lynne Truss, "young people" today using digital media "are now accustomed to following a full stop with a lower-case letter and no space".
Also see Klempen.
There has been some controversy regarding the proper amount of sentence spacing in typeset material. The Elements of Typographic Style states that only a single word space is required for sentence spacing."
Psychological studies suggest "readers benefit from having two spaces after periods."
Unit symbols and numbers
The International System of Units (SI) prescribes inserting a space between a number and a unit of measurement (being regarded as a multiplication sign) and between units in compound units, but never between a prefix and a base unit.
- 5.0 cm not or
- 45 kg not or
- not or
- 20 kNm not or
- π/2 rad not or
- 50 % not (Note: % is not an SI unit, and many do not follow this recommendation; note that is used as adjective, e.g. to express concentration as in 50% acetic acid)
The only exceptions to this rule is the traditional symbolic notation of : degree (e.g., 30°), minute of arc (e.g., 22′), and second of arc (e.g., 8″).
The SI also prescribes the use of thin space whenever thousands separators are used. Both a point or a comma are reserved as decimal markers.
- 1 000 000 000 000 (thin space) or 1000000 not 1,000,000 or 1.000.000
- 1 000 000 000 000 (regular space and significantly wider) should not be used
Halfwidth and fullwidth forms
Internal field separator
Sentence spacing in digital media
Types of spaces