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Re: [CSS21][css3-text] letter-spacing, word-spacing and justification

From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2013 16:30:20 -0400
Message-ID: <1372278620.27899.22.camel@slave.barefootcomputing.com>
To: Brad Kemper <brad.kemper@gmail.com>
Cc: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
On Wed, 2013-06-26 at 12:46 -0700, Brad Kemper wrote:
> On Jun 26, 2013, at 11:03 AM, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net> wrote:

> > I'm concerned a bit about this, as Japanese justification rules,
> > at least, tend to prefer compression to expansion.
> Would that be addressed by using negative letter spacing or just less
> letter spacing than with Latin letters? It would still be a minimum of
> how much compression was allowed, and would make it less likely to
> include gaps of too much space.

Really, letter-spacing in Japanese is more like word-spacing in Latin

Automatic letter-spacing should not normally be used for justification
of Latin texts - exceptions tend to be narrow columns and the really
ugly use that newspapers make of it, but adjusting letterspacing
unevenly is known to reduce comprehension.

The default needs to be that letter spacing is not used for
justification of Latin scripts. I think the same is true for Devanagari
and Thai. Enabling letter spacing should not affect justification either
(although it should disable ligatures such as "ffi" and "fl").

Sample use case - a US English legal contract set in caps/small-caps
with 0.1pt letterspacing should have the words justified to both margins
and the word spaces adjusted accordingly, but with the 0.1pt letter
spacing constant.

For ideographic scripts there should probably be a different sort of
justification, rather than overloading letter spacing. Similarly,
enabling justification should not enable letter spacing by default for
Latin scripts - the properties can be entirely orthogonal.

For arabic and some indic scripts with connected characters, it's
possible something like a kashida would be inserted but I don't know for


Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
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Received on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 20:30:28 UTC

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