tab-width specifications in HTML

Jim Hamerly (
Fri, 27 Jan 95 13:08:42 EST

Tab-stop specifications are a natural extension to the standard, but
I have some concerns over their widespread use. At a minimum, I'd
suggest that they be seriously considered as part of the stylesheet
standard, along with fonts, leading, margins, etc. And I believe we
should encourage the use of tables, rather than tabs, for aligning
text and numerical data.

The recipient's browser will not necessarily have the same font (or
font metrics for the same font family) as the creator of the
document. Hence, "formatting" with tabs will not guarantee that the
recipient will view what the creator intended. Its common for many
users to tweak tab placements to get the "look" they want. With
different reader fonts, the result can be character overstrikes,
misaligned "columns", or crowded, unreadable text so common in word
processing applications. For this reason, tables, with their
growable cells and rows, have become a much more popular and
extensible way of laying out aligned data in most conventional

Editors and browsers either currently support tables or plan to do so
-- shouldn't we encourage their use?

Jim Hamerly
Pages Software Inc