I'm, quite new to modelling in Blender and I was experimenting with the extrusion of faces command using the starting cube. These are the steps I followed and lead to my confusion (also see accompanying image showing steps).
Select four faces that are the "walls" of the cube (not the roof or the floor) in the standard view orientation (i.e. Z axis facing "up").
Use ALT E and select "Extrude Faces Along Normals" and drag the mouse out. I see that the faces move outwards and the space between the extrude faces is "filled in" so a larger box is created.
Press the ESC key to abandon the command and press ALT E again and select "Extrude Individual Faces" and drag the mouse out. This time I get a "cross" with space between the four boxes that are created.
Press the ESC key to abandon the command and press ALT E again and select "Extrude Faces Along Normals" and drag the mouse out. This time I get a result identical to that as in step 3 and not the result I expected as in Step 2
It seems that by using the "Extrude Individual Faces" changes the behaviour of the "Extrude Faces Along Normals" when used after this.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if I'm missing something basic in Blender and exposing my "newbieness" but I thought I'd ask to see what that something is?