When I write blog posts I’ve always tended to either eliminate or just not include extraneous spaces, such as those at the ends of headings, list items and paragraphs.
But recently I’ve tried to completely change my ways and add such spaces. Here’s why.
Here’s an example of what I used to do. I would change this:
<h4>Always use good headings </h4> to this:
<h4>Always use good headings</h4> by removing (or just not adding) the space between the end of the heading and the closing heading tag.
It’s subtle; it’s fussy; it’s tidy. You’ll probably have to look hard to detect the difference.
The problem is that often blog posts (in particular) are reused in other places, perhaps brought in from an RSS feed. Or in a CMS items filter up from sub-pages to have only the first few words listed on an index page.
And for some reason, such processes seem to stupidly strip out new lines without adding in any spaces to compensate.
This has the effect of running words and sentences together in ways that just look untidy, or even make reading difficult for some. I haven’t used a screen reader myself, but could imagine that such run-together words would make listening hard.
Here’s an example from a post I recently made to the Webstock blog. Initially I forgot about the spaces at the end of paragraphs. When the latest posts were pulled on to the front page of the site, the paragraphs ran together in an ugly way. I edited the post to add spaces and the problem was solved.
The detail screenshot shows it better: I’ve circled the problem areas in yellow in the top half of a combined screenshot. The top half is the original version; the bottom half shows the improved version. Click the image to see it larger and with more context.
So, my new rule is: always add an extra space after headings, paragraphs and list items. You never know when some process somewhere is going to run such things together, turning those nice, discrete items into a continuous, breathless, wordless jumble.