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

Brian E Carpenter brian.e.carpenter at gmail.com
Wed Jan 23 00:37:09 PST 2013


On 23/01/2013 02:29, Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) wrote:
> 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.

Yes, but it's a de facto requirement (as Nico says, strongly implied
by the use of ASCII art). In fact I was very surprised yesterday to see
that it wasn't mentioned in RFC 2223. I guess that those of us who have
been documenting software since the 1970s just assumed fixed-width as
the baseline, too obvious to mention (see RFC 825).

> 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.

I think it's a de facto requirement and I'm pretty sure we're proposing
to drop it.


> And, for general edification:
> If people would like more information regarding readability and font,
> there is an interesting paper available online:
> http://elupton.com/2009/10/science-of-typography/
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