proposal for new character 'soft/preferred line break'

Richard Wordingham richard.wordingham at
Wed Feb 5 14:20:23 CST 2014

On Wed, 5 Feb 2014 08:22:12 -0800
Markus Scherer < at> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 2:25 PM, Rhavin Grobert <rhavin at>
> wrote:
> > Parallel to soft hyphen, a hyphen that is just inserted if the word
> > was broken, it would be practical to have some way to tell browser:
> > if you need to break the line, try here first. This would be really
> > usefull for poems, music lines, adresses,…
> >
> That would be HTML <wbr> <> or
> <>.

I don't think these are the same.  They give permission for the line to
be broken at those points, with a strong tendency for the opportunity
nearest the end to be taken.  What Rhavin wants to do is to override
this tendency.  I presume the idea is that if a line of poetry will not
fit on a physical line, the line should instead be broken as its
principal caesura.

While such logic makes sense if a line only needs to be broken once,
what if it needs to be broken three or four times?  I feel this logic
belongs in the realm of complex mark-up rather than the very simple
mark-up afforded by characters.

I'll give an example.  As I don't trust my formatting to survive, I've
marked the end of physical lines with a raised dot(·).  For example,

The princely palace of the sun stood gorgeous to behold·
On stately pillars builded high of yellow burnished gold·

If we break it at the principal caesuras, then

The princely palace of the sun·
  stood gorgeous to behold·
On stately pillars builded high·
  of yellow burnished gold·

looks fine.  Am I cheating by believing one would choose to have
continuations of lines indented?

However, if the available width is reduced further:

The princely palace of the·
  stood gorgeous to·
On stately pillars builded·
  of yellow burnished·

The result is a mess.


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