[tex4ht] New options for the paragraph separation

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Mon Dec 16 01:54:57 CET 2019

On 2019-12-15 at 20:17:33 +0100, Michal Hoftich wrote:

 > > For myself, I fully agree. Indented paragraphs on web pages just look
 > > weird/wrong to me. -k
 > Yes, they look weird on web. They are OK in ebooks. Anyway, I've
 > updated the sources, the spaces between paragraphs are used by
 > default, indenting can be requested using the "p-indent" option.

Jan Tschichold (1902-1974), a Swiss typographer, explained the purpose
of indentation in one of his books.  Both, vertical space between
paragraphs and indentation can be used in order to mark the beginning
of a new paragraph.  However, a vertical space gets lost if a paragraph
begins at the top of a page.  He recommended indentation because he
had to consider only printed books at that time.

Web pages don't have page breaks, thus both options are possible
without losing the logical structure of the document.

I have no experience with ebooks.  Maybe the optional argument is a
possible solution.  But can't this information be derived from the
LaTeX file itself?  All you have to do is to determine whether the
parskip package is loaded.

The purpose of the parskip package is to fix a problem LaTeX2e
inherited from LaTeX2.09: entries in \tableof{contents,...} are
paragraphs and a non-zero value of \parskip in the preamble leads to
unwanted spaces within these tables.  Everybody who sets \parskip in
the preamble instead of using the parskip package is responsible for
all the expected problems anyway and I don't think that tex4ht should
consider this case.

BTW, indented paragraphs on web pages do not look more weird than in
books.  Nowadays poeple are less accustomed to indentation than a few
decades ago.  Many people believe that everything Microsoft Word does
by default is the only correct way.  Similar issues with tables.
People assume that a table is unreadable without all these vertical
and horizontal lines for the same reason.  But 500 years of work on
typography proved that the opposite is true.

I must admit that indentation can be confusing in certain situations.
Consider that math formulas are not centered but indented.  This can
be achieved with an amsmath option.  If both, formulas and paragraphs
are indented, the result might look confusing, especially if text
between formulas consists of only a few words.

And many people believe that web pages and PDF presentations have to
use sans-serif fonts because they assume that those old-fashioned
640x400 screens are still in use.  I personally prefer serif fonts

My favorite font is CharisSIL, not only because it's rendered
perfectly in web browsers even at small resolutions but also because
it's beautiful.  CharisSIL is an extension of Matthew Carter's
"Bitstream Charter" font.  I wasn't aware of this beautiful font until
Nelson Beebe delivered a TUGboat article using Bitstream Charter.


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de

More information about the tex4ht mailing list