Re: THEAD & TFOOT for columns

Peter Flynn (
18 Aug 1997 10:18:54 +0100

Date: 18 Aug 1997 10:18:54 +0100
From: Peter Flynn <>
Message-id: <>
Subject: Re: THEAD & TFOOT for columns

Jordan Reiter reits:

> I don't know.  The existence of THEAD and TFOOT with the absence of any
> kind of left or right defined permanent column seems to suggest a mindset
> that is vertical in nature.  

They're called THEAD and TFOOT because the default direction is
vertical.  But there's nothing to stop you typesetting a table
horizontally with the headings in THEAD down the lefthand side and the
totals in TFOOT down the righthand side: you don't need a TLEFT and
TRIGHT to enable this. The whole point about doing this in SGML is that
the presentation is unconstrained (as far as possible), even if the
implicit semantics betray the origins.

> In addition, HTML 4.0's current specs, which
> include left and right floating for objects, also suggest a vertical
> leaning (no pun intended).  Whether or not HTML's original intent or
> content is being totally smeared by the emphasis on its use for layout has
> become somewhat of a theological issue, with discussions leading to a great
> deal of bloodshed and/or guilt, but very few conversions on either side.
> The point is that HTML is now being developed, in tandem with Stylesheets,
> to provide information of a visual nature, and it's important to insure
> that all forms of layout can somehow be integrated.

Point taken, but you'd have to approach the W3C and the browser makers
about this. It can probably be fixed in RFC2070 if you ask the authors,
but the only constraints in HTML are purely semantic, not syntactic.