Should You Double Space an Essay: When and When Not To

Double Space an Essay

Double Space an Essay

What is Double Spacing?

Double spacing can be regarded as the formatting style in which a full blank line is purposefully left between every line within an essay. But when should you double space an essay?

Because of this, it doubles the number of vertical spaces between lines, hence resulting in more spaces between them. 

Double spacing is mostly utilized in academic writing such as essays, research papers, theses, and dissertations. 

Purpose of the Article 

The purpose of this article is to further explore the issue of double spacing in your essays in terms of when it should be done and when it should not, and the pros and cons of it. 

People Also Read: How Long is an Essay: Length and Pages for Different Essays

When to Double Space an Essay

1. Academic Institutions that Require Double Spacing

You should double-space your essay if your academic institution requires the summited work to be double-spaced. 

Use double space

Some educational institutions have set writing standards that should be utilized by every student pursuing education in them.

This standardizes the essay formats to make it easier for grading.

If you are in such an institution and it requires the submitted essays to be double-spaced, ensure that you adhere to the specified formatting to avoid losing marks. 

2. Writing Styles that Recommend Double Spacing

Some writing styles recommend double spacing. In most academic essays, the instructions specify the writing style you are required to present your paper.

The most popular or preferred writing styles for academic writing include American Psychological Association (APA) and Modern Language Association (MLA). 

The two writing styles are formatted in double spacing. If your professor instructs you to write an essay in MLA or APA style without specifying the level of spacing, you should write it in double space.

However, always be keen on following the instructions because you may be told to use the aforementioned formats but with different levels of spacing. 

3. Situations where it is Necessary

As noted, the prevailing academic conventions recommend the use of double spacing when writing your essays. 

As such, if you have been given an assignment on a particular topic and you have been told to write about it, you may decide to use double spacing because it is the most acceptable format within the academic context.

Additionally, you may need to create an essay that has high readability. This may be because you want your readers to follow your thought process without confusion. 

In the case of enhancing readability, it may be necessary to use double spacing because the paper will have more white (blank) spaces between lines. 

Further, longer documents like lengthy essays, research papers, theses, and dissertations will require double spacing instead of single spacing. 

This is because such documents have a lot of content and squeezing the lines and paragraphs together will make them appear dense and overwhelming. 

When Not to Double Space an Essay

1. Shorter Essays with Strict Word Count Limits

In cases where you have been assigned a short essay with strict word count limits, you should avoid using double spacing. 

This is because shorter essays have lesser content and using more spaces between lines and paragraphs makes the content clattered or appear too far apart. The essay will look unprofessionally written. 

2. Writing Styles that Do Not Require Double Spacing

As noted, some styles dictate the type of spacing you will apply throughout your document.

essay writing

Some writing styles do not require double spacing and instead may need you to use single space (1.0), or one and a half space (1.5). Such styles especially apply to official letters.

3. Situations Where It’s Not Necessary

There are other situations where it is not necessary to use double space in your document. Such situations can occur when you are required to write an official letter as part of an assignment.

Other situations occur when the essay is short or when you feel that your document will appear more aesthetically pleasing when you use other types of spacing. 

People Also Read: How Many Words are 6 Pages of work? Get Optimized Essay Length

Pros and Cons of Double Spacing

Advantages of Double Spacing 

Easier to Read

One advantage of double spacing is that it makes the essay easier to read. The lines and paragraphs will be adequately spaced in relation to each other hence the reader will have no problem following the content. 

Provides Space for Annotations and Comments

Double spaces also leave adequate room for annotations and comments. Since there is enough space between the lines, you can annotate your references and make comments within them.

Additionally, double spacing allows editors or instructors to make corrections and give feedback on your work. 

Disadvantages of Double Spacing

Makes an Essay Appear Longer than it actually is

A major disadvantage of double spacing is that it makes the essay appear longer than it actually is. This is because double spacing increases the blank spaces between lines and paragraphs making lesser text occupy a page.

For example, 550 words can easily fit into a single-spaced page. However, if the page was double-spaced, only half of those words would fit into it. 

Can Be a Waste of Paper and Ink

By using double spacing in your essay, you will end up having a lot of white spaces (blank) between lines that contain no written text.

This means that you will end up wasting your paper because lesser words will fit into it. Additionally, you will end up printing more papers in a double-spaced essay hence wasting ink.

People Also Read: 9 Ways How to Make an Essay Longer and meet the Word Count

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Double Space an Essay

double spacing on Google doc
  1. Open your document in a word-processing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
  2. Select (highlight) the entire text of your essay. You can use your computer’s cursor to manually highlight the entire text and then select it. You simply click and drag the cursor over the text and select it. 

To automatically select the entire text on computers running Windows Operating System (OS), you click “Ctrl + A”. For Apple’s Mac OS, you should click “Command + A”. 

  • After selecting the text, go to the formatting options. Those options are mostly found in the toolbar located at the top of the screen. They are labeled as “Line spacing” or “Paragraph”. 
  • You should click on the line spacing option where you will find a dropdown menu with pre-set spacing options.
  • Select the “2.0” or “Double” option for the dropdown menu. This will automatically adjust your essay’s line spacing to double.
  • Apply the changes so that the essay will become double-spaced. You should review the essay to ensure that the changes have taken full effect. 


In conclusion, the advantages of double spacing are that it makes the essay easier to read and it provides adequate space for comments and annotations. 

Additionally, double spacing is the most widely used spacing requirement for academic essays hence it can be widely applicable. 

However, the disadvantages of double spacing are that it is a waste of paper and ink because of the unnecessary spaces and it makes an essay appear longer than it is supposed to. 

The final thought on whether an essay should be double-spaced is that it all depends on the instructions or essay requirements. Always adhere to instructions to avoid academic penalties. 

People Also Read: What is a 3-4 Page Paper: How Long and how Many Paragraphs


What is the standard font size for double-spaced essays?

The standard font size used for double-spaced essays depends on the type of font. However, if you are using Times New Roman or Arial, the size will be 12. 

How much longer does double spacing make an essay appear?

Double spacing makes an essay appear two times longer than a single-spaced essay. This is because it creates double the space between lines hence doubling the length of the entire essay. 

Does double spacing apply to footnotes and references?

Double spacing does not apply to footnotes because the footnotes will end up taking a lot of spacing within the paper hence displacing the actual text (content) of the essay. 

However, references should be double-spaced if the rest of the essay (introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion) is double-spaced. There should be consistency. 

Can you mix double spacing and single spacing in the same essay?

Mixing double spacing and single spacing is not acceptable in the same essay. 

However, it can occur if you are writing a double-spaced essay and you need to include a long quote from other sources. The long quote should be treated as an individual single-spaced paragraph. 

Does double spacing affect the readability of an essay?

Double spacing does not affect the reliability of an essay because it is the most utilized spacing option in academic writing.

However, if you have been instructed to use other forms of spacing such as single spacing and you use double spacing, it will make your essay unreliable. This is because you have gone against the instructions. 

Additionally, you will appear like a lazy student who wants to make your essay appear longer. This is because single-spaced essays appear shorter than double-spaced.