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 16:29:53 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.981128130649.10431A-100000@ruby.ansuz.sooke.bc.ca>
To: braden@endoframe.com
cc: "Scott K. Laws" <scott@elvis.mu.org>, style-list <www-style@w3.org>
On Sat, 28 Nov 1998, Braden N. McDaniel wrote:
> This is problematic because "sentence-ending" punctuation is not unique. A
> period does not necessarily mark the end of a sentence. In English at least,

When do you have a period *followed by whitespace* that doesn't mark the
end of a sentence?  I can think of one case for that, which is the
ellipsis if you spell it ". . .".  I more often see people write ellipsis
in ASCII files as "..." with no spaces, which would be unaffected by my
suggestion.  Note, too, that I'm talking about an optional feature here:
people who didn't want it or didn't understand it, wouldn't turn it on.

I claim that enough people want extra space between sentences that it's
worth supporting them in some way, and I don't think that that algorithm I
described would guess incorrectly often enough to be a problem.  (I agree
that asking the user agent to do a grammatical analysis is out of the
question.)  Authors who had unusual situations where they wanted extra
inter-sentence spacing but also periods (or similar punctuation) followed
by word spaces, could mark up those exceptional periods.  Note, too, that
word processors like Word have an option to do almost exactly what I
described, forcing two spaces after every period that is followed by space
at all.  Lots of people use those options without appearing to suffer for it. 

The optional feature makes it possible for the author of a document to
choose how to handle this kind of case; without it or something like it
there is NO clean way to get extra space, and I don't see how CSS can be
taken seriously as a format-description language when it can't describe
such an ordinary format.  What am I supposed to do instead?  Write
"&nbsp;" after every sentence?  Just grin and bear the fact that my
sentences are too close together?  That hardly seems in the spirit of what
CSS is supposed to be about.

It sounds like you're saying that my proposal is capable of generating
incorrect formatting.  That's possibly true, but CSS without it or
something like it is *incapable* of generating correct formatting.

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 Sunday, 29 November 1998 04:06:44 UTC

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