Sentence spacing in Word

Is there one space or two between sentences?  Word lets you check for the spacing or not care at all.

It’s a useful option for those of us who learnt on manual typewriters where double sentence spacing was standard. Switching to single spacing is hard for your fingers to remember.

One Space or Two

People can get very exercised about sentence spacing.  Maybe it depends on what you were taught at school?

The trend has been towards single spacing but many of us were double spacing when we were taught to type.

Most style guides including the Chicago Manual of Style and Oxford Style Manual recommend single spacing.

Whichever you choose, Word can check for you.

Global Setting

The setting for sentence spacing is a Word global setting. It applies to all documents opened in Word.

There’s no way to change the sentence spacing check at the document, style or paragraph level.

For most people that’s not a problem. However, some might have clients or specifications for different documents.  Anyone in that situation has to change the Word setting manually each time.

Office 2016 for Office 365

If the spacing setting isn’t correct, there’s a brown dotted line.

Right-click on the dotted line to see the options under ‘Punctuation Conventions’.

Click on the fullstop/period, question mark or exclamation to change the spacing.

Ignore Once – will leave this spacing unchanged.

Don’t check for this issue – changes the sentence spacing for ALL documents, not just the current document. The global Word setting is returned to ‘Don’t Check’. This isn’t made clear at all.

Options for ‘Punctuation Conventions’ – takes you to the Grammar & more settings.


Go to Options | Proofing | Writing Styles. Select ‘Grammar & more’ then Settings.

Word for Mac: Preferences | Spelling & Grammar | Writing Style | Grammar and More |  Setting.

Scroll down to the bottom of the settings to see ‘Space between sentences’.

Don’t Check – the default.

One space – a single space between sentences.

Two spaces – two spaces

Before you ask … we don’t know why the most commonly changed grammar settings (Oxford Comma, Punctuation Required with Quotes and Space Between Sentences) are at the very bottom of the list.  They were at the top of the list in past versions of Word, so this must be a deliberate decision.

Word 2013, Word 2010 and before …

In earlier versions of Word (also Word 2016 for non-subscribers) the look is a little different but the result is the same.

The blue squiggly line marks an incorrect sentence spacing.

Right-click on the blue line to see the options which aren’t very clear.

You’re forgiven for wondering what caused the blue squiggly line.

Click on the period/fullstop, question mark, exclamation to change the sentence spacing.

Ignore Once – will leave this spacing unchanged.

Grammar … – opens the Grammar settings

The settings are the same but a little more accessible.

Go to Options | Proofing | Writing Styles. Select ‘Grammar & Style’ then Settings.

1 – a single space between sentences.

2 – two spaces

don’t check – the default.

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