A Modest Definition List Proposal (David E. Wheeler)

Dr. Drang drdrang at gmail.com
Thu Feb 26 09:28:13 EST 2009

On Feb 26, 2009, at 4:01 AM, Michel Fortin wrote:


> Well, if you want list items spanning on multiple lines to align

> properly, it's pretty hard to do with spaces using a proportional

> font.


> 1. List item

> spanning on more

> than one line.

It's easy enough to get all but the first line to align perfectly.
That the first line is a bit off can be thought of as an eccentric
(but perfectly readable) stylistic choice.

> You can sometime use tabs in proportional fonts in some situations.

> It helps aligning things correctly, and not only for tables, but

> also with the list item example above.


> Although if you later view it with a different font it'll probably

> look like crap too.

In my experience, tabs with proportional fonts really only work in
word processors, where the placement of the tabs can be saved with the
document. No such luck with plain text documents. I know that vi and
Emacs can use header lines that describe the tab spacing, but they
assume the use of a monospace font.

> That said, it's pretty easy to write a properly-aligned table

> without a script too. I've been doing that for some time.

I used to do it by hand, too. It's easy, but tedious, and especially
annoying when I found myself doing it again and again as I realized
that the table I thought was in final form needed yet another round of

Dr. Drang
drdrang at gmail.com

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