Inline text spacing must be adjustable with custom stylesheets

Rule ID: avoid-inline-spacing
User Impact: Serious
WCAG: 1.4.12

Compliance Data & Impact

User Impact

Disabilities Affected

  • Attention Deficit
  • Blind
  • Low Vision
  • Deafblind
  • Mobility
  • Cognitive


  • WCAG 2.1 (AA): MUST

WCAG Success Criteria

  • 1.4.12 Text Spacing

Section 508 Guidelines

  • Not specified, or not applicable

Rule Description

Ensure that text spacing set through style attributes can be adjusted with custom stylesheets.

Why it Matters

Many people with cognitive disabilities have trouble tracking lines of text when a block of text is single spaced. Providing spacing between 1.5 to 2 allows them to start a new line more easily once they have finished the previous one.

How to Fix the Problem

Correct markup solutions

The avoid-inline-spacing rule includes five markup patterns that pass testing criteria:

<!-- style attribute includes font-size property -->
<p id="pass1" style="font-size: 200%">I stepped on a Corn Flake, now I'm a Cereal Killer...</p>
<!-- style attribute includes line-height property -->
<p id="pass2" style="line-height: 1.5;">
    On a scale from one to ten, what is your favorite color of the alphabet.</p>
<!-- style attribute includes letter-spacing property -->
<p id="pass3" style="letter-spacing: 50px;">
    The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog</p>
<!-- style attribute includes word-spacing property -->
<p id="pass4" style="word-spacing: 10px;">A group of 24 Caterpillars has 694 legs</p>
<!-- style attribute includes word-spacing, letter-spacing, and line-height properties -->
<p id="pass5" 
    style="word-spacing: 20ch; letter-spacing: 50rem; line-height: 3;">Look, a distraction!</p>

Incorrect markup solutions

The avoid-inline-spacing rule includes four markup patterns that fail testing criteria:

<!-- style attribute includes forced line-height property -->
<p id="fail1" style="line-height: 1.5 !important;">Banana error</p>
<!-- style attribute includes forced letter-spacing property -->
<p id="fail2" style="letter-spacing: 100em !important;">We need more cheeeeeeessseeeee!!!</p>
<!-- style attribute includes forced word-spacing property -->
<p id="fail3" style="word-spacing: -.4ch !important;">The cheese grater is in the way!</p>
<!-- style attribute a word-spacing property, a forced letter-spacing property, and a line-height -->
<p id="fail4" style="word-spacing: 200%; letter-spacing: 50rem !important; line-height: 3;">Yo, Darth Vader</p>

The Algorithm (in simple terms)

Inline text spacing must be adjustable with custom stylesheets.