Do We Still Need to Double-Space?


An open question for you…

Assume that we’re looking at electronic papers, submitted electronically. For the average paper (i.e. not a formal research paper), do we still need to double-space? Why do we require double-spacing? Is it different for electronic papers versus physically-printed and -submitted papers?

Please comment below to help us tease this out.


  1. Moses says:

    I find double spaced papers easier to see, visually, even on a screen.

    • Jeff says:

      Moses– That’s interesting, because I find the opposite. I’d rather have single-spaced so that more text fits on one screen, and then zoom in/change resolution to make it larger if the type is too small. Do you find this on tablets vs. desktops, or is it just a rule of thumb for you in general?

  2. Laura Z says:

    I agree with Moses. The only time single spaced writing is less cumbersome is when there are multiple columns.

    • Jeff says:

      Laura– This is one of the things I’m wondering about– If we move away from only accepting learning as “the research paper” or “the analysis paper” into different forms of text (which come with wholly different formatting considerations and styles, including columns like you mention), do we get more flexible about our writing conventions?

  3. Nell says:

    I agree with Moses about the visual benefits of double-spaced papers. Also, highlighting/marking/editing single-spaced work on Schoology is impossible to do with much accuracy and without a bit of frustration. I don’t see that it takes any additional effort for students to double space their work, and since it is beneficial for me as their teacher, I still require that they do so.

    • Jeff says:

      Nell– are you marking up with a stylus? In other words, are you writing comments in the spaces with the stylus just as you would have with the pen if you were working on a physical printout?

  4. David G says:

    I’ve noticed double spacing is something educators require because it allows them a space to leave thoughts and comments about various aspects of the paper in the spacing, rather than trying to fit everything in the margins. However, with the possibility of pdf submissions, electronically submitted files can be commented on without the need for such a trival formatting use. That being said, the previous comments about double-spaced documents being easier to read also hold a fair amount of weight. It’s far easier to skip lines of text in single-spaced papers, so double spacing gets a point for that as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve typed a paper, tried revising it, and completely missed certain parts that just didn’t make sense. Double spacing is handy for all parties involved.

    • Jeff says:

      David– Great to hear from you! Your point about PDF submissions and electronic commenting was what I was thinking about with this question… with so many types of commenting/revising/markup available, I’m wondering if this is the best vehicle for commenting, or is it “tradition” at this point. Not sure I follow you on your comment about skipping lines, though– do you mean that with single space it’s easier to miss a point or accidentally lose a sentence?

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