Re: tab-width specifications in HTML

Dave Raggett (
Mon, 6 Feb 95 12:50:42 EST

While tables can be used for vertical alignment, this can be inconvenient.
For instance in a table caption, you might want a copyright message at
the end of the caption to be right ajusted and in a different font. In this
and similar circumstances, it is natural to use a "right tab".

When converting from a word processor format, having to map left, center and
right tabs into table cells would be awkward to say the least. For this reason
I believe we should consider some kind of tab stop mechanism, and try to
support this within style sheets.

Problems with varying font metrics can be avoided by defining tab stops
in terms of positions within the text flow, rather than in terms of so many
points or pixels from a margin. Scaled units such as EMs will sort of work
provided authors allow sufficient space for variations between different fonts.

In the HTML 3.0 draft DTD, I have tried to do this with the TAB element
which uses ID/IDREF associations and has nothing to do with the horizontal
tab character. In many cases, where the document semantics are well defined,
it would be better to leave the layout to the stylesheet. Where this isn't
the case, we may still need some explicit control within HTML though.

What do people think about the issues involved in generating HTML/Style sheets
from say Word documents in this regard?

-- Dave Raggett <> tel: +44 117 922 8046 fax: +44 117 922 8924
Hewlett Packard Laboratories, Filton Road, Bristol BS12 6QZ, United Kingdom