W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > November 1998

Sentence spacing and nested quotes

From: Matthew Skala <mskala@ansuz.sooke.bc.ca>
Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 21:54:47 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.981126183341.1684A-100000@ruby.ansuz.sooke.bc.ca>
To: www-style@w3.org
I'm a newcomer to the list, so apologies if these points have already been
covered, but here are two things I'd really like to see in CSS:

First: Sentence spacing.  I want more horizontal whitespace between
sentences than between words in the same sentence.  Look at how, in this
email message, I've got two ASCII space characters between sentences and
only one between words.  This has been standard typographic practice for a
long time and it makes the text easier to read.  At the moment, HTML makes
all spaces the same.  It makes Web documents unpleasant to read.  In order
to get the behaviour I want from the current generation of Web browsers,
I'd have to insert &nbsp; character entities all over the place.  That
seems like a bad thing.  I realise that i18n issues become significant
here because not every language uses the same set of sentence-ending
punctuation marks, and also not every period character is the end of a
sentence, but it seems to me like it would be easy to have a place to
define "characters that signal the end of a sentence if they are
immediately followed by whitespace" and another place to define "amount of
white space to use after such a character, when it's followed by
whitespace".

Second: different handling of nested quotes.  When I use the <Q> tag
several times, I want it to use double quotes for the odd-numbered
levels and single quotes for the even-numbered levels.  So if I mark up
text like this: 

<Q><Q>What do you mean, <Q>no</Q>?</Q> asked Tom swiftly.</Q>

I want to see something like this:

"'What do you mean, "no"?' asked Tom swiftly."

That is how Lynx renders the <Q> tag, and I consider it the correct
behaviour.  Even if you can find a style guide that disagrees with me, I'd
claim that I should be allowed to make my document appear with the quote
levels alternating this way.  But my reading of the CSS2 document is that
the quote characters for the last defined level of quotes are repeated for
all subsequent levels, so it would instead look like: 

"'What do you mean, 'no'?' asked Tom swiftly."

That's not how I want my document to appear.  I can work around it by
simply defining lots of quote levels in the style sheet, in the
alternating pattern I want, but I would prefer to be able to define an
infinite number of levels without writing an infinitely long style sheet.
A toggle option for "repeat levels from the outside, or by duplicating the
last level?" would be good.

The third girl had an upside-down penguin on       Matthew Skala
her stomach, so the doctor told her, "I'll           Ansuz BBS
examine you for free, if you and your             (250) 472-3169
boyfriend will debug my Web server."    http://www.islandnet.com/~mskala/
Received on Friday, 27 November 1998 00:52:47 GMT

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