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Re: Proposed amends to <small> element

From: Bruce Lawson <brucel@opera.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 10:49:33 -0000
To: "Ben Millard" <cerbera@projectcerbera.com>
Cc: "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.unwdovoeh8on37@bruce-pc>

On Sat, 17 Jan 2009 09:25:57 -0000, Ben Millard  
<cerbera@projectcerbera.com> wrote:

> You have a couple of nested <small> elements in the example. Are they
> intentional, like extra-small-print?

typo, excuse me.

>
> What effect would making <small> work like <ins> have on existing  
> content?

- I have no stats on the usage of <small>, but I'd be surprised if there  
were any change in the rendering of existing content.
>
> Bruce Lawson wrote:
>> This will make it easier to author, and thereby promote use of it to
>> mark up "small print (part of a document often describing legal
>> restrictions, such as copyrights or other disadvantages), or other
>> side comments".
>
> In my experience, what legalistas want (if they can get away with it) is  
> uppercase red bold at a large text size. ;)
>
> Even if you apply CSS to the <small>, I imagine the mere sentiment of
> calling legal content "small" would make it unpopular in corporate style  
> guides.


Then why is it universally known as "small print", even amongst the  HTML  
5 working group who specified that <small> is for legalese and caveats?

You may be right,of course, but having worked in the legal world, I know  
that lawyers *never* win battles of web design. The marketers and web  
authors - who control the web site - always put the boring caveats as  
small print.

> When I've have stumbled across pages with legalese, they didn't use  
> <small>. But I have seen continuous bold across multiple sentences and  
> the use of uppercase for whole sections, such as "14. DISCLAIMER OF  
> WARRANTIES" on this page:
>
> * <http://www.adobe.com/misc/copyright.html>

The difference here is that this is a dedicated "legalese" page and is  
therefore entirely "small print" in concept. (Legal pages are very rarely  
the high-trafficed pages on sites, being linked to in the footer  
generally).

The <small> tag is for side issues of legalese etc on non-legal pages:  
"The small element represents small print (part of a document often  
describing legal restrictions, such as copyrights or other disadvantages),  
or other side comments", although here the spec is ambiguous; does "often  
describing legal regulations" refer to the full document, or just the part  
that is marked up as <small>? Common sense says the latter, but it's not  
explicit; I suggest rewording to "The small element represents small print  
(the part that describes  the  legal restrictions, such as copyrights or  
other caveats related to the wider document).

(It's also unclear to me when you use <small> and when you use <aside> for  
"other side comments". I imagine that most web authors, the kind who don't  
read and critique specs, would regard  "aside" as the element best used  
for marking up "side comments").

>
> In TV adverts and print media this stuff does tend to be small. But on  
> the web, in my experience as a user, this stuff gets a page to itself.  
> There's no advantage to marking it up specially when all the main  
> content on a page is of the same type.

See above


> Indeed, it's unclear what advantage there is marking it up specially at  
> any time since authors don't currently feel a need to do so (from what  
> I've seen).

That's a different discussion.

bruce
Received on Saturday, 17 January 2009 10:50:39 GMT

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