No way to indent text?

Tom Humiston tom at
Wed Aug 5 13:01:57 EDT 2009

On 5 Aug 2009, at 5:47 AM, Joseph Lorenzo Hall wrote:

> This isn't something done in standard HTML, so Markdown doesn't do it

That's right. More specifically, HTML is for indicating structure,
while CSS is for presentation. Font, colors, indentation and the like
are all presentational.

While it's true that a text marked up with HTML but *no* CSS will
still show up with an amount of presentational styling -- spaces
between paragraphs, headings larger and bold, bullets in front of list
items, etc. -- this is simply because the typical browser has a
default CSS style sheet built in, for handling elements that have no
additional styling.

One of the benefits of Markdown ignoring block-level HTML is that it
allows you to insert class and id names, and even complete style
rules, within your HTML tags, so you can take advantage of CSS.

If I may digress: Markdown observes an important principle of usable
design: It does what most of its users, most of the time, want. This
stands opposite what programmers -- for natural reasons -- *think*
that people want, which is to handle edge cases. Most subscribers of
this list are programmers, and I applaud those who hold to the vision
of Markdown's design and, despite temptation, subordinate all
programming concerns to that.

For an excellent discussion of programming and usable design, see Alan
Cooper's [The Inmates Are Running the Asylum][1].


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