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HTML Table Markup

From: Chris Ridpath <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 10:06:45 -0400
Message-ID: <1094738805.41406375557fb@webmail.utoronto.ca>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

There's been a lot of discussion lately on the IG list regarding HTML table 

Phil Jenkins started a thread on using a null summary to indicate the 
difference between layout and data tables[1].

Bruce Bailey started a thread on using the TH element in data tables[2].

Both of these issues, among others, have been discussed at length on the WCAG 
list and in phone conferences and have led to a series of techniques and tests 
for the accessible markup of tables.

The concensus reached was that TH elements would be used to determine table 
type. Data tables must use TH elements. Layout tables cannot use TH elements.

The use of summary on layout tables is still under discussion[3] but the 
current view is that summary is optional on both layout and data tables.

Caption is optional on data tables and is not permitted on layout tables.

Several other elements, such as tbody, thead and tfoot, are not permitted in 
layout tables[4].

Other techniques for proper table markup can be found in the techniques 

There are tests for checking proper table markup that can be found in the HTML 
test suite[5] although these are lagging a bit behind the techniques document.

The techniques and test suite hope to clarify what the WCAG means to HTML 
authors and these documents illustrate current WAI thinking. Please take a 
look and speak up if you'd like change.


[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2004JulSep/0464.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2004JulSep/0568.html
[3] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS/#datatables_summary
[4] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS/#layouttables_td
[5] http://tile-cridpath.atrc.utoronto.ca/acheck/servlet/ShowGuide?name=wcag-2-
Received on Thursday, 9 September 2004 14:07:24 UTC

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