W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > December 2012

Re: CSS needs improvements for handling sentence spacing

From: Alan Stearns <stearns@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:47:35 -0800
To: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
CC: "Thomas A. Fine" <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu>
Message-ID: <CCF8B638.1B414%stearns@adobe.com>
On 12/20/12 12:07 PM, "Thomas A. Fine" <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu> wrote:

>Suppose I have an interest in formatting additional space between
>sentences.  I might want to do this because:
>   * I want to approximate the historic norm for published works from
>roughly 1650 to 1950
>   * There is some evidence to support that such spacing is helpful for
>new readers, people with certain learning disabilities, and more
>generally people who are speed-reading or scanning.
>   * Or just because I find it aesthetically pleasing
>
>The most popularly recommended solution is a non-CSS solution, to use
>the &nbsp entity to add an extra non-collapsing space.  The non-breaking
>space messes up justification where it occurs at line wraps.  Even if
>this is changed to some other space entity, or just a regular space
>together with setting white-space to pre-wrap, this is still not a CSS
>solution, and allows for no fine-grained control.
>
>Unfortunately CSS lacks a reasonable approach for accomplishing this
>seemingly simple feat.  Using the box model on sentence spans does not
>work properly, because space added in the box model is not wrappable
>white space, and as such it messes up justification.
>
>One method does work, but in my opinion is not acceptable.  You can set
>word-spacing to a wide value for your divs or paragraphs, and then reset
>it back to a normal value for every sentence or other contained element.
>  This approach to me seems inverted.  You are effectively setting
>word-spacing to an incorrect value overall and then correcting it
>farther down.  This is confusing and error-prone.

I agree that this isn't the best solution, but your html-sentences [1]
page shows that it works. When you presented this issue on the public-html
list, I thought the reply from Charles McCathie Nevile [2] was the best of
the lot. You need to make the case that this matters to enough people to
justify adding it to CSS (and/or HTML).

My recommendation would be to promote the use of the method you've
devised, then show that people care enough about sentence spacing to mark
up their sentences and use your workaround. Your workaround requires only
slightly more effort than your preferred solution, so evidence that people
are using the workaround will be a convincing argument for reducing the
effort required to achieve this effect.

Thanks,

Alan

[1] http://hea-www.harvard.edu/~fine/Tech/html-sentences.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2012Dec/0053.html
Received on Thursday, 20 December 2012 20:48:14 GMT

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