Re: [xep-support] Support of special types of spaces

From: David Priest <>
Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 08:56:01 PDT

On 19-Oct-05, at 1:20 AM, David Tolpin wrote:
> On 19/10/2005, at 13:08, Broberg, Mats wrote:
>> Would it be possible to update XEP so that it preserves the
>> whitespaces
>> and outputs them at their correct widths?Typographic spaces are
>> such a
>> fundamental feature of good typograpphy that I think you should
>> seriously consider this.
> The only reason typographic spaces exist is that they were cast in
> lead. It's legacy,
> it results in poor typography, and creates problems which are hard
> to resolve (typographically,
> not programmatically). For good typography, define entities of
> appropriate names and map them
> to space-filled leaders of appropriate lengths -- and use them for
> truly good typography.

I disagree strongly.

There are very specific uses for various widths of spaces. These are
long-held conventions and form part of the basis of good typography.
These can not be well-simulated using space-filled leaders: for
starters, it's an abuse of the leader object.

The thin space is used to separate digit groups in numbers with five
or more digits. It is a hard space, narrower than the word space,
and will not be adjusted in width when trying to achieve
justification. Thin spaces are part of the System International
specification: using commas between digits is passé.

En and em spaces find modern use in providing a bit less/extra space
when emphasizing the separation of an element from its group, while
still maintaining the visual cohesion of the whole group.

Hair spaces are to be used on either side of an em dash. Em dashes
look downright stupid without the hair space on either side: normal
spaces are much, much too wide, while no space at all makes the text
look cramped. It wouldn't be too extreme to state that we'd be
better off if hair spaces were automagically inserted on either side
of em dashes, forcing the text to have the correct visual typographic

In France, quotation marks are guillemets « guillemets » , and should
have a hair or thin space on either side. France also uses spaces
before colons, commas, and such: these, too, are thinner than a word

The examples go on and on. Typographic rules for these have not
changed in centuries, and there is absolutely no reason why they
should be changed now. I believe Mats is absolutely correct in
requesting that XEP recognize and honour the various types of spaces.

(*) To unsubscribe, send a message with words 'unsubscribe xep-support'
in the body of the message to from the address
you are subscribed from.
(*) By using the Service, you expressly agree to these Terms of Service
Received on Wed Oct 19 09:22:14 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Oct 19 2005 - 09:22:15 PDT