W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2007

Small print is not a good idea Re: Namespace

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 03:57:17 +0100
To: "Lachlan Hunt" <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, "Robert Burns" <rob@robburns.com>
Cc: "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.tvm3trbpwxe0ny@widsith>

On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 03:10:48 +0100, Lachlan Hunt  
<lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au> wrote:

> Robert Burns wrote:

>> For example, in the US (and maybe elsewhere) such legal wording is not  
>> supposed to be presented in "small print" so it is a bit of a misnomer.
>
> Do you have any evidence/references to support that claim?
>
> Copyright statements and other legal notices that typically occur at the  
> end of web pages (the use cases for which this is intended) are quite  
> often presented in a smaller font.

I forget the reference, but last I checked (about 3 years ago I think)  
your home state of NSW had legislation that set a minimum size for text  
which could be considered to be included as a valid part of any legal  
agreement. Specifically, any text smaller than 10px could not be  
considered an enforceable clause.

While it may be common to present this as small text, there is a  
(sensible, IMHO) movement in the legal world to insist that small print is  
not a good way to present legal information. Although it is easily  
overcome by any modern browser, having to increase text manually to read  
this information is an inducement to ignore it - and the legal argument  
runs that if you are inducing people to ignore something you cannot  
reasonably expect them later to have read it.

Reducing the size of text is also an accessibility issue - again, not  
insuperable, but an annoyance.

For these reasons, I would suggest deprecating small as an element  
primarily concerned with presentation. If an element is needed to cover  
legal and similar information then a better one should be chosen. Given  
that in general such information covers large number of pages at a time,  
the use of a link and metadata, such as the rel attribute, seems much more  
sensible.

Cheers

Chaals

-- 
   Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software: Standards Group
   hablo español  -  je parle français  -  jeg lærer norsk
chaals@opera.com    Catch up: Speed Dial   http://opera.com
Received on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 02:58:21 GMT

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