Re: Really Quick Guide to Good HTML -Reply

lilley (
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 17:12:48 +0000 (GMT)

From: lilley <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Really Quick Guide to Good HTML -Reply
To: (Charles Peyton Taylor)
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 1996 17:12:48 +0000 (GMT)
In-Reply-To: <> from "Charles Peyton Taylor" at Feb 21, 96 06:45:11 pm

Charles Peyton Taylor writes:

>"" wrote

> > 2) "HTML ... is really just ASCII text with extra codes
> <snip!>
> > In the context of your ten-minute guide I suggest replacing "ASCII text" 
> > with "plain text".
> The problem with this is that I would have to explain 
> exactly what I mean by "plain text."   Also, I dont' know 
> if all word processors in use here save what they label 
> as "plain text"  as a ISO-8859 file type; they might save 
> it in their own format.  (I can see a non-computer-literate 
> person thinking that a WordPerfect text file without graphics 
> is plain text.)  I do know that most word processors will 
> save text as ASCII, and have the option labeled as such.

And what they label as ASCII might not be. 

You could say that HTML ... is really just plain text with extra codes. 
The "save as ASCII" option on many wordprocessors can be used to generate
a plain text file.

Again, this is a section that cries out for hypertext. Make plain text a link
to another file with the explanation. People can skip it or read it depending 
on their level of computer literacy.

> > 3) You confuse tags and elements. It is probably useful to explain what 
> > they are. HTML is made up of elements. An element can consist of either a
> > single tag, like this:
> > <hr>
> > or a paired start tag and end tag with some stuff in the middle.
> > <h1>An important heading</h1>
> > The stuff in the middle can itself contain nested elements.

> Okay, this brings up another question: if I have 
> <p> some text </p>, is the "some text" part considered 
> part of the element,

Yes. That is the point." Like a symphony, it has a beginning, 
a middle, and an end". 

> If the text is part of the element, then that really 
> changes the way I would write this (and the way I think 
> about it), since the tags would seem separate the elements, 
> as opposed to actually being the elements.

No, the tags are part of the element too.

                   +-------- this is a heading 1 element. It has
                   |         another element inside
   |                                    |
   <h1>An <em>important</em> heading</h1>
          |                |
                  +------------- this is an emphasis element
> > The main thing is to ensure they understand paragraphs are elements,
> > rather  than believing that paragraph tags introduce line breaks (which
> > your text  does sort of imply) and to avoid the idea that <p> separates
> > paragraphs,  rather than starting them.
> With the audience I'm writing for, I cannot totally 
> ignore presentation. 

Sure, I didn't suggest you should ignore it. The trick is to
get the authors thinking <p> opens a new paragraph, rather than <p>
is a way to put in some spacing.

> Also, in written documents, how can you tell one paragraph from 
> another without  line breaks?

By the pauses that the speech synthesiser makes. By the end of 
paragraph symbol in your Braille display. By the way that 
alternate paragraphs are light blue and mid blue. Or whatever.

Now I have explained elements better, back up and re-parse my earlier 
comments. If they still don't make sense, fine.

> > suggest you put the description of URLs into a "sidebar" - another 
> > document. This stops it interrupting the flow of text and means people 
> > can read that description or not, as they need to.
> Putting it in another document would mean it couldn't be
> printed from one file.  Some people print this stuff out.

OK, fine. I didn't know that was one of your constraints.

Chris Lilley, Technical Author and JISC representative to W3C 
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