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

Re: Sentence spacing and nested quotes

From: Matthew Skala <mskala@ansuz.sooke.bc.ca>
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 01:30:30 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.981127164612.5981A-100000@ruby.ansuz.sooke.bc.ca>
To: "Scott K. Laws" <scott@elvis.mu.org>
cc: style-list <www-style@w3.org>
On Fri, 27 Nov 1998, Scott K. Laws wrote:
>   I think this problem may be beter solved by being able to, define
> cirtin end of sentence characters and having the web browser kepp all
> white space after them untill the first non white space character is

I don't like this, because consider a period that is right before the end
of a line in the HTML.  That would force a line break in the output, even
if the output has a different line length.  Bad.  Also, I might not want
the sentence spacing to be an integral multiple of the word space.  It's
perfectly reasonable that I might want it to be, say, equal to one and a
half word-spaces.  I can't put one and a half ASCII space characters in
the input (would it go 32 16?  :-).  Furthermore, it would place more
burden on the author of the document to get the formatting right in the
HTML input.  HTML isn't really the place for formatting - I should be able
to format it more or less randomly and have the style-sheet-based renderer
make it look right.  Finally, your suggestion could be tricky if the
documented were being formatted double-justified, with word spaces that
aren't all the same size.  Sentence spacing might also be variable; in
that case, my parameter value might be more a clue to the justification
algorithm, "hey, I want 'more' space here (whatever that means)", rather
than a specific "use X number of millimetres of space".

It sounds like both you and the other poster haven't fully understood my
proposal, so I'll make it more explicit:  I think there should be two new
properties for spacing, one a list of sentence-ending punctuation marks
and one the sentence-to-sentence spacing.  Sentence-to-sentence spacing
defaults to be equal to word-to-word spacing.  The rendering algorithm is
that when a sentence-ending punctuation mark is immediately followed by
collapsed white space, that white space takes on the "sentence space" 
width, where it would otherwise take on the "word space" width. 
"Sentence-ending" punctuation marks not followed by white space in the
document, don't have any extra white space inserted.

Now, are there any cases where you'd want to have a styled document
section with double spaces at the ends of sentences, but you'd also want
to have a period (or similar mark) with a *single* space?  Remember that a
decimal number like 123.456 (assuming your language uses the period for
decimals) wouldn't turn into "123.  456" under my proposal.  If I had
some situation where I wanted single spaces after some non-sentence-ending
punctuation in a document where those marks would normally be
sentence-ending and have extra space, then I could style that section
separately.

As for quotes, I'm not saying that the current behaviour should be
eliminated, only that there should be an option to make deep levels of
quotes repeat the sequence starting at the outermost defined level
(thus 1 2 1 2 or 1 2 3 1 2 3) instead of just repeating the innermost
defined level (1 2 2 2 or 1 2 3 3 3).

And with both these proposals I'm aware (I thought this was implicit, but
apparently not) that other languages and other documents may need other
behaviour than the behaviour I want for my English documents.  That's the
whole point of having style sheets:  to accomodate everyone.

> BTW, I have recently heard that double spacing after a sentence is no
> longer concidered nessarry/correct in english.  I still use it though.

It seems to me that the double space is used by many people, and there are
some very good reasons to use it (such as the fact that documents without
it are ugly), and so it's sensible to make it possible for people to use
it.  People who don't want to use it, don't have to. 

>From a stylistic point of view I think it's stupid not to use it, because
anything we can do to help readers see where sentences start and end will
make it easier for them to transparently understand our documents and
that's the whole point of writing.  But I realise that this isn't the
forum for that flamewar.

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 Saturday, 28 November 1998 04:01:54 GMT

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