[rfc-i] draft-iab-rfcformatreq-01: fixed-width != ASCII

Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) rse at rfc-editor.org
Tue Jan 22 18:29:33 PST 2013

On 1/22/13 5:14 AM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> ASCII does not imply a fixed-width font.
> However, the beginning of section 2 doesn't state the restriction
> to a single fixed-width font (and doesn't forbid italics or bold).
> Perhaps as a result, the "Requirements to be retired" section
> doesn't mention these restrictions either.
> Also there is no discussion of pros and cons for a fixed-width
> font as such.

In RFC 2223 and 2223bis, there is no requirement regarding font except
in discussion of PostScript.

"Three fonts are acceptable: Helvetica, Times Roman, and
 Courier, plus their bold-face and italic versions.  These are
 the three standard fonts on most PostScript printers."

A nod is made to monospace fonts as a possibility when talking about
spaces after a period in 2223bis:
 (7) Spaces at the End of a Sentence

           When a sentence ended by a period is immediately followed by
           another sentence, there should be two blank spaces after the
           period.  This rule provides clarity when an RFC is displayed
           or printed with a fixed-width font.

So, the fact that the RFC Editor currently publishes in a monospaced
font has historic weight but is not actually a documented requirement.
Therefore I did not mention it as a requirement to be kept, dropped, or
modified.  I would note as part of this discussion that for several of
the formats under discussion, the reader has control over what font is
used to display the text.

Given the level of user control possible in everything except PDF, I am
uncertain if and how this should be listed as a requirement.

And, for general edification:
If people would like more information regarding readability and font,
there is an interesting paper available online:

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