Code is supposed to be exact and "as-is". Sometimes, showing two spaces is important. In a comment, it is not possible to show code with  multiple   spaces. This became apparent in this answer (see comments).

EDIT: apparently this bug is larger then I thought: multiple spaces here are neither preserved in normal question text. Pity (though I couldn't find this reported before, I'd assume it is).

Workaround: use Alt+0160 (windows), or U+00A0 (Unicode NBSP), as I did in the example above.

  • @voyλger nice alternative workaround (but try to select and copy it). – Abel Nov 17 '09 at 22:05
  • @Abel: What is the problem? On FF, If I select the text and paste it I get the spaces on the pasted text. – perbert Nov 17 '09 at 23:37
  • I used Opera (doesn't work). Now tested with IE (doesn't work) and FF (works). Looking at the code (<code>with </code><code> multiple </code><code> </code><code> spaces</code>) there are spaces (but most space is created by CSS), but when selecting they aren't "blue" in any browser, and only FF copies them. Interesting little browser quirks. – Abel Nov 18 '09 at 13:37
  • @Abel: you are right, Chrome doesn't like it either. It must be because generally in HTML 1+ space becomes 1 space. I think that firefox's (pronounce it out loud, I dare you) is the correct behavior in this case. – perbert Nov 21 '09 at 23:21
  • Firefox is correct in copying, but not in selecting. Unfortunately, the W3 and other standards bodies say little if anything about how selections are supposed to look (or what Ctrl-C should copy consecutively), that's totally up to the UI. – Abel Nov 30 '09 at 0:05
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    Couldn't code {white-space:pre-wrap} be added to the SE default stylesheets? – Lri Jul 7 '11 at 2:49
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    This is still an issue, and now unicode nbsp doesn't work either (at least as far as I can test). – Chris Down Dec 14 '11 at 16:09
  • I guess not, @Lri, as pre-wrap also enables newlines? Those don't get any love in comments. – Arjan Mar 21 '12 at 17:15
  • @Arjan But aren't newlines removed before the CSS anyway? – Lri Mar 22 '12 at 6:21
  • No, @Lri, they are not. (See the HTML page source for this comment.) – Arjan Mar 22 '12 at 6:52
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    @Oded Can you at least post an explanation as to why it is status by design or declined instead of simply flooding the front page with your retagging? – Lorem Ipsum Feb 22 '13 at 14:49
  • @LoremIpsum - Sorry, trying to close old old old bugs. Didn't mean to flood the front page. – Oded Feb 22 '13 at 14:50
  • @Oded I don't mind the flooding; in fact, I'm happy the devs are closing/fixing bugs. However, without a comment/answer, I don't know if you mean "This is so old that changes since then have rendered it invalid" or "This is so lame that I don't care to respond" or "This is how it will be and I'm not going to fix it" – Lorem Ipsum Feb 22 '13 at 23:12

I've added this to our stylesheets:

code {
    white-space: pre-wrap; /* don't collapse multiple spaces in code */

– no idea why we never did that; it's an easy enough fix, and these days it's supported by all browsers. This is in the next build.

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    Well, there is one reason... – Tim Stone Feb 24 '14 at 21:42
  • @TimStone Well if that was the reason we never did it, I assume someone would've answered here :) Yep, stupid me, this behavior is right there in the spec. I read it and I still missed it. – balpha Feb 25 '14 at 6:02
  • This is causing some problems in Firefox. – animuson Mar 29 '14 at 15:56
  • Thanks for the pointer, @animuson. Will look. – balpha Mar 31 '14 at 13:51
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    was this fixed correctly (if so, multiple consecutive spaces should show)? Apparently not, have you reverted the change of last year? – Abel Sep 6 '15 at 22:21
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    @Abel You're right, this was removed (or rather, overwritten) during the great CSS overhaul of 2014/2015. I'll talk to the person who made that change to find out what the intention was. – balpha Sep 7 '15 at 5:37
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    So can the status-completed be removed please? – Shadow Keeps Social Distance May 15 '17 at 19:26
  • This never made it into mobile.css, which means this problem still exists on mobile. – Joseph Sible-Reinstate Monica Dec 7 '19 at 17:18

You do have a workarround:

`with `` multiple `` `` spaces`

Looks like

with  multiple   spaces

in a comment

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    wowch. I'd hate to hand parse my code to add that... – Pollyanna Nov 17 '09 at 20:35
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    Unfortunately, doesn't work any longer..., see: comment with `` multiple `` `` spaces – Abel Dec 19 '11 at 15:24
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    See this post for a working workaround – CharlesB Feb 16 '12 at 9:01

In one of my comments I've suggested to apply sed s/ / /g… which looks completely stupid because spaces are not rendered properly (as you can (not) see).

Now, I've tested the CSS snipset provided in a comment by Lri:

code { white-space:pre-wrap; }

It does the job of fixing this. Why isn't this applied yet?

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  • "Why isn't this applied yet?" >> my guess, it doesn't have priority. Which seems kinda odd for a site about coding though... – Abel Mar 21 '12 at 8:26
  • Or, @Abel, as it also enables newlines? Those don't get any love in comments. – Arjan Mar 21 '12 at 17:14
  • @Arjan: everything is filtered anyway for whatever illegal characters are disallowed. Can hardly think it's an issue to either replace spaces with non-breaking spaces, or to remove any \r\n. – Abel Mar 21 '12 at 20:34
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    Then I'd not vote for replacing spaces with non-breaking spaces, to avoid any issues with copying & pasting code fragments, @Abel. That may indeed make CSS with removing line breaks a good option then. (Though that might need some conversion of existing comments, if comments are sanitized upon saving rather than upon rendering.) – Arjan Mar 21 '12 at 21:03
  • @Arjan: while I agree (and I think this is up to the implementers, if at all they want to do something about this), copy/pasting with nbsp's in it doesn't give me trouble with Visual Studio. Not sure of other editors though. – Abel Mar 21 '12 at 21:13
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    @Abel At least on OS X non-breaking spaces are not usually converted to normal spaces, and running code with them results in an error. – Lri Mar 22 '12 at 6:28

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