I wanted to do a short post today. So let’s talk about something easy!

Here’s the situation: You, like so many unfortunate people, might have been taught to put two spaces after every period, because that’s how it was done in the days of the typewriter. But alas, that’s not how it works anymore. When you type on a computer, you put one space after a period. Always.

But you didn’t know that, and now you’ve written an 80,000-word novel with two periods after every punctuation mark. How do you fix that?

If your answer is “I guess I’ll clear out an afternoon and spend 5 hours deleting the extra spaces,” then have I got a lifesaver for you. (And if you’ve done this in the past, then I offer my condolences for the hours you’ll never get back.) This takes five seconds to fix.

Here’s how you do it in Microsoft Word.

  1. Open “Find and Replace.” (Shortcut: Control+H.)
  2. In “Find What,” enter two spaces.
  3. In “Replace With,” enter one space.
  4. Hit “Replace All.”

    Screenshot of Word's "Find and Replace" showing two spaces in "Find What."

    This screenshot is almost useless. But there are two spaces in “Find What,” I promise.

That’s it. That’s literally it.

Note: This will indiscriminately replace any place with more than one space in a row. So pause for a second and ask yourself: do you use multiple spaces for anything else?  For example, some people use spaces to indent. They shouldn’t, but still: this’ll mess that up.

(In fact, that would be a great opportunity to use Find and Replace to replace your space-indentations with tabs or to remove them entirely and use Microsoft Word’s automatic first line indentation.)

Find and Replace is surprisingly powerful, and can replace much more complicated things than just spaces. So if you’re ever faced with a messy manuscript, just remember: most formatting problems can be fixed in a couple of clicks. (And if you want to know how to fix most of the other problems, check out my mini-tutorial on putting a manuscript into Standard Manuscript Format.)

Anyway, that’s it! We’re done!

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