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Does this mean place some cookie dough every 4 inches (i.e. 4 inches center-to-center), or have a 4 inch gap between each cookie?

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Wow how big are those cookie(How much is each ball of dough)? 4 inch buffer on every side? That's like a 8 inch diameter cookie. – Jay Mar 30 '12 at 13:03
Mom would only allow me one cookie at a time when I was a kid, so I would present her recipes for big cookies. Seriously though, I suspected it would refer to the gap so I made the size suggest it was center-to-center. – jontyc Mar 30 '12 at 23:00
up vote 6 down vote accepted

It means to have a 4 inch gap between each cookie. Of course, if you use less dough per cookie, you can put them a bit closer together.

Normally, if you put cookie dough on the tray, the surface of the cookie won't be very big (perhaps an inch). So it would not make a very big difference if you would've placed the cookies 4 inches apart center-to-center. Just be careful during the first batch. If you see you have a lot of space between the finished cookies, you can put the dough closer together for the next batch (if you use the same amount of dough per cookie).

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