Re: To <P> or not to <P>

Marcus E. Hennecke (marcush@crc.ricoh.com)
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 10:39:01 -0700 (PDT)


Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 10:39:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Marcus E. Hennecke" <marcush@crc.ricoh.com>
Message-Id: <199608161739.KAA00801@cougar.crc.ricoh.com>
To: www-html@w3.org, porad@smallworld.com
Subject: Re: To <P> or not to <P>

On Fri, 16 Aug 1996 12:50:13 -0400 (EDT), Scott Porad <porad@smallworld.com> wrote:
> There a great debate at our firm about the merits and correct usage of the
> <P>, </P> and <BR> tags.  Perhaps someone knows what's up?

This confusion seems to be quite common, so you're not alone.

> First of all, after consulting the HTML spec at
> http://www.sandia.gov/sci_compute/elements.html it is clear that <P
> ATTRIBUTE="foo"> requires a </P> tag.  (I've enclosed references from this
> page below.) We all agree on that.

No, this is not true. The closing </P> tag was never required in any
of the HTML versions. Any browser that requires </P> in order to work
properly is broken.

Unfortunately, there are some browsers that are broken in that regard,
most notably MS Internet Explorer. Suppose a paragraph is centered
using <P ALIGN=CENTER> and the next paragraph starts with <P> with no
intervening </P>, Internet Explorer used to center the second paragraph
also (not sure what the final version does). This is the *only* reason
why the use of </P> is recommended.

> Next, we agree that a <P> tag between two blocks of text accomplishes the
> task of inserting a blank line between paragraphs.

No it doesn't. It simply marks the beginning of the next paragraph. This
is not the same as "inserting a blank line". A browser might only insert
whitespace of half the height of a regular line, or it might not insert
any whitespace at all and instead indent the first line of the paragraph.
Finally, the browser may not display the text at all but instead read it
out loud.

>  However, although the
> Sandia spec says that <P>..text... is a minimum possible attribute, some
> folks do not all agree that a plain <P> between two blocks of text is
> correct.

Yes it is. It implicitly closes the previous paragraph (i.e., a browser
should implicitly insert </P>) and opens a new one.

> Some folks say that when no attribute is required a simple <P> between
> blocks of text, ie paragraphs, should not be used.  Rather, two (2) <BR>
> tags should be used.

This is utter nonsense. Sorry for the language, but unfortunately this
is exactly how the Adobe folks seem to think and as a consequence,
PageMill is unable to insert any paragraph markup at all. First of all,
you are not guaranteed that two consecutive <BR> insert a blank line as
these folks would expect. And second, <BR> marks a line break, not the
beginning of a paragraph, which is something completely different. When
you start thinking about HTML-to-speech renderers or about using style
sheets you will immediately see the difference.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Marcus
--
Marcus E. Hennecke
marcush@crc.ricoh.com        http://www.crc.ricoh.com/~marcush/