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Re: A proposed standard for CSS-controlled sentence spacing

From: Markus Ernst <derernst@gmx.ch>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 00:48:09 +0100
Message-ID: <50F1F639.7050004@gmx.ch>
To: "Thomas A. Fine" <fine@head.cfa.harvard.edu>
CC: François REMY <francois.remy.dev@outlook.com>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Am 12.01.2013 05:10 schrieb Thomas A. Fine:
> I have to confess I'm surprised that a list about CSS isn't getting
> this.  The very purpose of CSS and style sheets is to separate the
> formatting from the content.  So why then are CSS experts offering me
> only content-based formatting?

Whether sentence spacing belongs to formatting, or rather to type 
design, is debatable. As a typographer I'd see it rather as a part of 
type design, similar to word spacing.

(Besides, typing double spaces looks content-based to me, too.)

> For 500 years, printer was done with movable type.  And throughout that
> history, workers who couldn't imagine the power of the modern computer,
> and the abilities of HTML and CSS could use wider formatting on their
> sentences, and for much of that history, most printers (in english at
> least) did just that.

They reacted to the fact that they had to use the same letter for full 
stop, decimal point and abbreviation marks - which would actually 
require different spacing. If you look at it this way, U+002E is a 
historical tradition of the same "mistake". If we had separate 
characters for those purposes, they could be spaced accordingly at font 
level. Anyway this is academic, similar to the problem with apostrophe 
and right single quotation mark: Even if the different characters 
existed, they would probably not be used by the vast majority of authors.

> HTML/CSS offers no practical solution for one of the most common
> printing practices in the history of movable type.  Doesn't that seem
> odd to anybody?

You are actually right (except for the "most common", which seems 
debatable to me). OTOH, control of sentence-spacing is somehow a task 
for typographic experts, such as manual kerning. Even if they are very 
common in high quality typesetting, support of such practices does not 
seem to be a main goal of HTML and CSS so far.

Though I personnally don't like double spaces at sentence boundaries, I 
agree with you that it would be nice to have a solution for it in 
HTML/CSS, but I'd prefer a solution that covers other use cases, too (as 
I mentioned in an other branch of this thread).
Received on Saturday, 12 January 2013 23:48:46 GMT

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