Re: Render EM as underline [was: deprecated tags in Wilbur & Cougar]

Christopher R. Maden (
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 17:38:12 GMT

From: "Christopher R. Maden" <>
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 17:38:12 GMT
Message-Id: <199608011738.RAA08195@phaser.EBT.COM>
In-reply-to: <ae266383000210046073@[]> (
Subject: Re: Render EM as underline [was: deprecated tags in Wilbur & Cougar]

Terje Norderhaug:
> If italics doesn't work on my screen and most other screens I use,
> that is a serious problem as these displays are commonplace. The
> default rendering of the browser should work optimal on widespread
> used screens. Power users with higher quality displays should be the
> ones to optimize their stylesheets unless the browser manages to
> adapt.

Absolutely!  As a Lynx user, I *demand* that the recommended handling
of tags use no display features other than underlining, bold, and
reverse video.

Wait - I lied.  I'd like it if browser makers created intelligent
interfaces that allow users to determine their own tag handling.  Mac
Mosaic 2.0.1 does it - why doesn't everyone?

> Italics doesn't display very well on normal resolution displays, of
> identifiable technical reasons: Lines other than horizontal or
> vertical will be jagged when drawn in a matrix. As italics is
> slightly titled, most of the lines used to draw the font will be
> jagged. Fuzzy fonts and/or high resolution may compensate, but
> reality is that most people doesn't have that sophisticated screens.

This is a problem with oblique fonts, not italics.  A true italic font
will render nicely.  I have no problem with italics on my UNIX or
Windows machines; I do have problems on the Mac because the Times I'm
using doesn't have a nice italic.  With Mac Mosaic, I can change
fonts, or have <em>, <i>, <cite>, and <var> do something other than
italicize the text.

> "And that is the nice thing about HTML, noone forces you to have
> <EM> displayed as underline..."

This argument about lawyers needing underlining is a little silly,
IMO.  If any lawyer is expecting to use the Web version of a document
as a legally binding thing, he's in for a nasty surprise.  It's not to
say that underlining would be bad to have.  It'll get abused the same
as any other tag, but that's life on the Web.[*]

If HTML clients had been implemented with SGML engines from the start,
this whole tag extension discussion would be totally unnecessary.
Need a new tag?  Modify the DTD, or use a different one that has what
you need!  Want your end-user to see <em> in underline?  Include a

> You are right, some of us living in a color-screen world might
> forget that for b/w screen the underline for EM might conflict with
> links.  Incidentially, b/w screens typically have a better
> resolution and more grayscales than color screens, and are thus
> better able to render italics in a readable manner. In contrast,
> color screens are typically bad in rendering italics but are able to
> make links distinguishable by the use of colors.

Nope.  My b&w screen is strictly 1-bit 85 dpi.  Italics work just fine
here, thanks; but in Netscape I can't tell if I've visited a link or
not.  Mosaic changes the underlining style for me, but its user
interface is unweildy on X.


[*]Anyone else seen the tip on how to turn text colored easily?  Just
   put <a href="">...</a> around it!
<!ENTITY crism PUBLIC "-//EBT//NONSGML Christopher R. Maden//EN" SYSTEM
"<URL> <TEL>+1.401.421.9550 <FAX>+1.401.521.2030
<USMAIL>One Richmond Square, Providence, RI 02906 USA" NDATA SGML.Geek>