Microsoft has taken an official stance on one of the internet’s most divisive questions, firmly coming down on the side of minimalism in the “one-space versus two-spaces after a sentence” debate. Word’s automatic spelling and grammar checker will now flag anything other than one space after a period as wrong, that red squiggly line declaring double-spacing between sentences grammatically incorrect (at least according to Clippy).
Regardless of where your allegiances lie in this Very Important matter, now is a good time to point out that Word’s grammar suggestions aren’t written in stone: You can modify them to match your own writing preferences—even those of the two-spaces-after-a-period variety.
Word is great at catching spelling and grammar errors, but not all grammar rules are universal, and sometimes your punctuation, word choices or formatting preferences are artistic choices, or otherwise reasoned deviations from the “norm.” Here’s how to school Word in your personal preferences.
How to change Word’s proofing settings
This easiest method is to right-click the error, then select “Always ignore.” Word won’t bug you about it anymore. The other option is to change Word’s grammar settings. This requires a few extra steps but will also allow you to modify all of Word’s grammar options at once.
Open a Word document and go to Home > Options > Proofing (on the sidebar).
Scroll down to “Writing Style” under “When correcting spelling and grammar in word,” and click “Settings” to open the Grammar Settings window.
In this window, select “Grammar & Refinements” from the Writing Style drop-down menu.
Scroll down to “Spaces between sentences” at the very bottom and use the drop-down box to select your preference: “Don’t check” to ignore spaces after a period, or “one space” or “two space” for however you like to write.
You can change a ton of other settings in this menu, too, including how Word treats the internet’s other favourite punctuation punching bag, the Oxford comma. Of course, using double-spacing after a period is unquestionably wrong, but at least now you know how to modify Word so it’s not dog-piling on you for your grammar sins.