spaces and newlines before list markers (was: evolving the spec)

Waylan Limberg waylan at
Sat Mar 1 01:12:05 EST 2008

On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 5:46 PM, Thomas Nichols <nichols7 at> wrote:

> tough. In this instance, though, I haven't yet understood why Markdown

> should not continue to support the following from the [syntax page][],


> "List markers typically start at the left margin, but may be indented by

> up to three spaces. List markers must be followed by one or more spaces

> or a tab."


Hmm, I don't remember reading that before. Was it always there?
Anyway, to be honest this has been the hardest thing about markdown
for me to wrap my head around (and probably why I picked it as an
example in the other discussion). The way I always understood it,
indenting in Markdown is done in increments of 4. Therefore, in my
mind, the only amounts of indent allowed should be 0, 4, 8, 12, 16,
... and so on. It would never even occur to me to use any other
amounts of indent for any reason - ever. And, in fact, I had never
tried it until someone brought it up here on the list. With the
exception of the "it makes copy and pasting easier" argument, I'll
probably never understand it. Thats just the way my mind works.
Nothing against those who think differently.

And, in fact, reading Gruber's "Dive into Markdown" it would seem
reasonable that one could conceivably take any well crafted email and
run it through a markdown parser and get some decent html. Obviously,
in practice things don't work so well. In the end consesions have to
be made on both sides. I won't enforce my restrictive view of
indentation on the community at large, and perhaps those who like to
indent secondary lines of list items will need to watch their line
breaks to avoid errant list items.

We could always require a blank line between list items, but consider
this list of one-word items:

* red
* blue
* green

Do we really want to require the author to add a blank line between
each item? I don't.

Waylan Limberg
waylan at

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