Re: Fixed Width Spaces (was: Printing and Displaying DependentVowels)

From: Ernest Cline (
Date: Tue Mar 30 2004 - 16:42:00 EST

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    > [Original Message]
    > From: Asmus Freytag <>
    > At 10:12 AM 3/30/2004, Ernest Cline wrote:
    > > > [Original Message]
    > > > From: Asmus Freytag <>
    > > >
    > > > At 12:19 PM 3/29/2004, Ernest Cline wrote:
    > > >
    > > > >
    > > > > UAX #14 makes a rather definitive statement on this issue, albeit
    > > > > in an obscure place, in Section 3: Introduction.
    > > >
    > > > 4.0.1 will amend that section to correct the wrong impression that
    > > > is fixed width and to clarify that this statement is not intended to
    > >> any specialized cases, but just ordinary typographical conventions:
    > > >
    > > > I'm sorry if the fact that the placement and context of text was not
    > > > enough to guide the reader. Note that the 'obscure place' was in the
    > > > introduction (!) of the UAX, where it was a mere note on a subject not
    > > > actually covered by the UAX (i.e. line layout) that nevertheless forms
    > > > the context in which linebreaking happens.
    > >
    > > True, but it was the only guidance on the subject that is present in
    > > Unicode 4.0.0, and there do exist widely used applications that do
    > > treat NBSP as a fixed width space.
    > Can you elaborate?
    > HTML treats it as a fixed space in terms of the underlying source
    > (spaces and line endings, but not NBSP can be coalesced under some
    > circumstances in HTML). But that's a source file issue, not a statement
    > on how to treat the NBSP in line justification.
    > So, if you can, please provide more details as to when and where and
    > how.

    Just use NBSP in an HTML document in IE 6 and you'll see that it treats
    that character as a fixed width space, Opera 7 also does the same.
    OTOH, at present Mozilla treats it as a justifiable character. I can't say
    whether MS Office treats it the same way, but OpenOffice 1.1.0 treats this
    character as being fixed width as well.

    > >Still, there is a need for a fixed width space with a width equal to the
    > >unjustified width of a normal space .
    > Perhaps you would like to elaborate where and when that is used. What
    > problem does a fixed width space solve? Are those circumstances where
    > it flows with the line, or are those uses limited to tables?

    The main usage is with compound words such as "ice cream" or
    "Louis XIV" or commercial phrases such as "Camry SE" where for
    esthetic reasons an author would prefer that the space not expand
    upon justification, so as to emphasize the compound nature of the
    word Other authors might not care about such expansion, but for
    those who do, this concern is usually associated with non-breaking
    as well. I am not aware of any style guides that offer either normative
    or informative guidance for either choice. Another possibility is that
    determining whether NBSP expands upon justification is something
    that should be left to higher level protocol to decide, altho there are
    advantages to having NBSP as a fixed width space in my opinion.

    SP breaks and justifies
    SP WJ doesn't break, but does justify
    NBSP ZWNJ breaks, but should it justify?
    NBSP doesn't break, but should it justify?

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