A heated debate on the merits of more or less sentence spacing may have been put to rest. A study has found that two spaces are better than one between sentences, the Washington Post reports. The study, from researchers at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, sought to settle the age-old debate using eye movement trackers and about 60 student test subjects. To test which is best, the subjects were tasked with reading passages as equipment noted how rapidly their eyes moved. Researchers asked them to read passages with single spaces after periods and double spaces after periods, as well as passages with two spaces after periods or two spaces that followed only commas. After they read, the students were assessed for their understanding of what they'd read.
As Discover Magazine notes, researchers concluded the different styles did not appear to affect how well the students comprehended the passages. However, the study did find that subjects' eyes lingered for less time between sentences in passages where a double-space was used after periods. This means, the researchers suggest, that two spaces makes for faster reading. So how conclusive are the findings? Not very, per Lifehacker. The blog notes that the study used Courier New, a font similar to what typewriters used back when the two-space style was in more widespread use as a way to prevent cramped-looking text. The study also notes that "individuals' typing usage also influenced these effects such that those who use two spaces following a period showed the greatest overall facilitation from reading with two spaces." Go figure.