Keep it simple – Focus on content, not aesthetics. If you need to add emphasis to your text, stick to boldface, italics, and underline, since those are universally available in HTML.

This is worth repeating: use the return key only to start a new paragraph. If you use it for anything else, for example, to create a blank space between two paragraphs, an HTML converter will turn the extra returns into empty paragraphs. That’s bad because the formatting instructions associated with paragraphs often include spacing, so empty paragraphs multiply that spacing. For that reason, many sites, including this one, implement something called an empty paragraph killer, but why not avoid senseless violence by being more sparing with that return key?

Consider the paragraphs in this piece. The space between them is part of their formatting instructions. I didn’t press the return key twice to create that space. It’s just part of the way this page is formatted by this site.

For the same reason, don’t press the return key at the end of every line, as you might on a manual typewriter. If you do, your text will end up looking like this:

Use the return key only to start a new paragraph. If you use it for anything else, for example, to create a blank space between two paragraphs, an HTML converter will turn the extra returns into empty paragraphs. That’s bad because the formatting instructions associated with paragraphs often include spacing, so inserting empty paragraphs multiplies that spacing.

Avoid the tab key

Tab spaces do not transfer well to Internet publications. That’s one of the reasons why paragraphs in on-line documents are often separated by a blank line instead of an indentation. Tab spaces have to be handled by “non-breaking space” entities. Every time you press the tab key, you add handfuls of those codes, and there’s no way to control how they’ll be handled on-line.

If you need to separate text into columns or use spaces to convey organization, consider using a table instead. Your word processing application should have a tool for making tables. Those have their own problems, but they’ll do a better job than tabs.

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