"inline-block" is one of those CSS bits that tends to sneak under my radar. I should think about it more, because it has properties similar to "float", but without that weird "a container with nothing but float'd objects will collapse leaving no space for the objects".
Anyway, we had a span that we wanted to have a min-width on -- the content of a table td had a dotted underline to indicate it was clickable/editable, but we needed to "hold the area" if the field was empty. (Previously we held it with but we were having weird html escape issues.) Long story shorter, it didn't work until we specified that the span was "display:inline-block".