A Modest Definition List Proposal

Michel Fortin michel.fortin at michelf.com
Thu Feb 19 06:48:23 EST 2009

Le 2009-02-19 à 1:52, Yuri Takhteyev a écrit :

> Correct. Or one could say there is no way to get any standard blessed

> as official here period. The closest you can get is to convince Michel

> to add it to Markdown Extra, in which case there is a reasonable

> chance that some of the other implementations will add optional

> support for it. In this particular case, I find it hard to see this

> proposal going very far, though. (Of course, Michel can prove me

> wrong.)

It seems I've been called into this discussion. :-)

Well, that whole thread left me wondering. I'm of opinion that using a
tilde is as good as a colon, perhaps even better visually. It has the
advantage of looking better when you add a colon at the end of your
term (which, I think, happen often enough):

: Definition

~ Definition

The current syntax using a colon has been there... since PHP Markdown
Extra's debuts (July 2005). There is obviously a lot of documents out
there using it, so there's not way I'll just change it to something

As for accepting the tilde as an alternate marker, there's obviously a
precedent of that: unordered lists which can be made of `*`, `+`, or `-
`, so it wouldn't be counter-nature to add one for definition lists.
On the other hand, that precedent was meant to allow other syntaxes in
common use to work with Markdown; I'm not sure any syntax we can come
with for definition lists is already in common use. Definition lists
are already some sort of specialized niche syntax within Markdown and
HTML: useful when you need one, but not something a lot of people care
for or even know it exists.

So in the end I'm pretty much ambivalent to this proposal: I like it
but I don't think it's worth wasting another marker character and
dealing with possible clashes (legitimate text with a tilde in it).

That said, perhaps I'll change my mind the next time I have to write a
definition list.

Michel Fortin
michel.fortin at michelf.com

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