Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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F32: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.2 due to using white space characters to control spacing within a word


All technologies.

This failure relates to:


The objective of this technique is to describe how using white space characters, such as space, tab, line break, or carriage return, to format individual words visually can be a failure to present meaningful sequences properly. When blank characters are inserted to control letter spacing within a word, they may change the interpretation of the word or cause it not to be programmatically recognized as a single word.

Inserting white space characters into an initialism is not an example of this failure, since the white space does not change the interpretation of the initialism and may make it easier to understand.

The use of white space between words for visual formatting is not a failure, since it does not change the interpretation of the words.


Failure Example 1: Failure due to adding white space in the middle of a word

This example has white spaces within a word to space out the letters in a heading. Screen readers may read each letter individually instead of the word "Welcome."

Example Code:

<h1>W e l c o m e</h1>

&nbsp; can also be used to add white space, producing similar failures:

Example Code:


Failure Example 2: White space in the middle of a word changing its meaning

In Japanese, Han characters (Kanji) may have multiple readings that mean very different things. In this example, the word is read incorrectly because screen readers may not recognize these characters as a word because of the white space between the characters. The characters mean "Tokyo," but screen readers say "Higashi Kyo".

Example Code:

<h1>東 京</h1>

Failure Example 3: Using line break characters to format vertical text

In the row header cell of a data table containing Japanese text, authors often create vertical text by using line break characters. However screen readers are not able to read the words in vertical text correctly because the line breaks occur within the word. In the following example, "東京都"(Tokyo-to) will be read "Higashi Kyo Miyako".

Example Code:

<caption>表1. 都道府県別一覧表</caption>
<th scope="col">(見出しセル 1.)</th>
<th scope="col">(見出しセル 2.)</th>
<th scope="row">東<br />京<br />都</th>
<td>(データセル 1.)</td>
<td>(データセル 2.)</td>


No resources available for this technique.



For each word that appears to have non-standard spacing between characters:

  1. Check whether any words in the text of the content contain white space characters .

Expected Results