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Re: part of my review of 3.12 Phrase elements (importance <strong> element)

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:21:42 +0100
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20070719142142.GE19923@stripey.com>

Robert Burns writes:

> Consider deprecating <strong>.
> With nested<em>, and CSS (including media rules) <strong> is no
> longer a very useful element.

I agree that it doesn't seem to have much utility, being semantically
hard to distinguish from <em>.  In most situations a single form of
emphasis is sufficient[*0] (or indeed, for those that have a style
guide, mandated).  There are several plausible ways of choosing to
render emphasized text (italicized, emboldened, capitalized, coloured),
but with CSS any of these can be applied to <em>, so a distinct element
is not needed for each.

However ... <strong> exists; browsers will continue to support it.  Is
allowing authors to continue to use it actually doing any harm?

> Changing its meaning (or adding a new <strong> element with a
> different meaning), as currently proposed by the draft causes a
> namespace collision. Particularly without versioning, it would be
> impossible to tell whether a document meant <strrong> as in strong
> emphasis or <strong> as in important.

I'm not convinced that HTML5 is changing its meaning: I'd've thought
people emphasize things because they are important.

Please can you give examples demonstrating the distinction as you see
it, that is:

* current webpages where <strong> is correctly used to emphasize
  something, but that that thing isn't important (and as such would be
  misinterpreted by HTML5 browsers)
* theoretical HTML5 mark-up where <strong> is correctly used to denote
  something as important but that it would be wrong to emphasize it (and
  as such would be misinterpreted by legacy web browsers)


  [*0]  In nearly all cases where both bold and italic are being used,
  at least one of them denotes something other than emphasis (such as
  quotations, foreign words, defining instances, or keyboard input), for
  which there is some other more appropriate element available.

Received on Thursday, 19 July 2007 14:22:00 UTC

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