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How many spaces follow a period according to APA guidelines?

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014  |  8352 Views

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APA's Publication Manual (6th edition) includes information on punctuation and style, including the number of spaces after a period.

In specific, section 4.01 (p. 87-88) of the Manual covers "Spacing After Punctuation Marks."

For periods, APA prescribes three different scenarios...

  • One space after periods that separate parts of a reference citation
  • One space after periods that are initials in a personal name
  • Two spaces after periods that are at the end of a sentence
    • WHY does APA ask you to do this?: "Spacing twice after punctuation marks at the end of a sentence aids readers of draft manuscripts" (p. 88).

When following APA's instructions, please realize that it is no longer common to ask for double spacing after a period at the end of a sentence. Most grammar and style guides will tell you to include only one space after that period. In fact, APA's Style Blog entry on this issue acknowledges that APA is on its own in asking for two spaces.

Also note that most instructors are happy with the normal one space after a period. When in doubt, ask.

To tell how many spaces you have put in, you can use the paragraph symbol in Word (top ribbon bar) to see:

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