"The tab character is not a meta-character." Sure it is, if you think otherwise you are wrong. A tab character, traditionally as GrandFather would say, is meant to relay information about the distance of your text from the left margin. As he also pointed out, to no end, it is often visually portrayed as 8 spaces. While you point out those 32 codes in ASCII, you should review how many of them are in fact meta characters, which by definition are chracters, thats pertain to relaying information about other "characters." You can find them for own reference at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII, upon reviewing them you will find a great many of them are indeed :"meta characters."