Ted's Computer World HTML & CSS
Tips and Tricks

HTML LINE-SPACING — A FLEXIBLE APPROACH

Suppose that this is a portion of one of your pages:

..........
..........
A paragraph of text

*

More text
..........
..........

Suppose also that you would like to reduce the spacing between the text and the colored bar.  What would you do?

One solution would be to get out your graphic editor and reduce the height of the image, because in this case it actually looks like this:

*

Another solution would apply styles to several elements:

<style="margin-bottom:0"> on the first one,
<style="margin-top:0"> on the third one, and
<style="margin:0"> on the graphic itself.  This would result in:

..........
..........
A paragraph of text

*

More text
..........
..........

That gets the job done; but there must be an easier way, and there is.

Similarly, you might like to increase vertical spacing for some effect or other — say between two paragraphs.  One possibility would be to increase the top margin of the second paragraph with an inline style.  Another would be the kludgy tactic of creating a dummy line with <br>&nbsp;.  There's a better way.

We hit upon this topic in the article on Displaying Single Images.  It was necessary to reduce certain margins so that a caption could be visually close to its accompanying images.  Similarly, a pair of images, one above the other, might appear unacceptably close together, necessitating some extra spacing between them.

Other factors can cause one to make minute adjustments in order to improve the overall appearance of a page.  For example, paragraphs have built-in top and bottom margins; but many structures do not.  Having a way of accommodating these issues routinely is rather important, if you want to get anything done.  I cannot speak to the methods of professional web-page designers; but the following little system renders line-spacing issues almost trivial.


My suggestion is a sort of dynamic approach, meaning that one's choice of markup is determined by what else has been displayed just higher on a page.  This keep-it-simple method utilizes another collection of little CSS classes that enable easy adjustments to various top-and-bottom margin settings in object-oriented style; and it does so without using inline styles, divs, IDs, or other folderol.  The choice of atom to use is dependent only upon how the composer wants the page to look.

Here are some of the goodies that I find most useful:

*

Now, if you want to move a paragraph down a space, simply apply the desired class:

*

Because paragraphs have a 1em margin anyway, one usually must specify a 'greater' setting in order for it to have an effect.  On these examples, using the class "dn1" would have no impact, because it would simply redefine a margin that already exists.  In contrast to that would be a table or an image without a caption, both of which might have no specified bottom margin.  A bit of experimenting will reveal which class is needed for a given situation.

Note also that my naming conventions are based upon effect rather than function.  Specifying "up05" actually means that the text is to appear .5em higher on the page, which is accomplished by reducing the top margin.  Similarly, "dn2" doesn't actually 'move' a paragraph down; it simply increases the top margin.  The names "top0" and "bot0" are more suggestive of their actual functions.

If you have an aesthetic regard for your presentations, then you should at least be interested in this approach.

Go Back