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Re: footnotes -Reply

From: Charles Peyton Taylor <ctaylor@wposmtp.nps.navy.mil>
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 10:03:50 -0700
Message-Id: <s57d088d.038@wposmtp.nps.navy.mil>
To: www-html@w3.org
As a suggestion, Feed Magazine ( http://www.feedmag.com/ ) puts 
the body of their text in a column with large side margins, and puts their
footnotes on the sides. With scrolling text, this 
seems the way to go.

(of course, they also use link=red and vlink=blue, which 
bugs me, but you know designers.)

Charles Taylor

>>> Stephanos Piperoglou <stephanos@internet.com> 06/09/98 01:17am >>>
On Tue, 9 Jun 1998, Alan G. Isaac wrote:

> One might use footnotes for many things, and there are many possible
> implementations. The basic function of a footnote is to designate
> some text as subsidiary.
>  > I don't understand why html does not offer explicit footnote and
> endnote tags, both for the structure this offers to html documents
> and to facilitate translation between document formats. (The latter
> reason alone wd be reason enough, but there are clear structural
> reasons---reflected in the existence of footnotes---as well. There
> were discussions recognizing this and proposing to include footnote
> tags in html 3.0.)
>  > Of course one can use make shift ploys: e.g., superscript a
> hyperlinked number. But i. this does not acknowledge the special
> structure of footnotes, and ii. this does not permit algorithmic
> translation *from* html to other formats.

You are right that there is no easy way to represent footnotes in HTML.

The specific semantics cannot be encoded in stone, but you can use a pair of
reciprocal links with REL/REV="Footnote" (or "Endnote") to show the relation.
The most obvious place for the elements in the document strucuture would be the
end of the document.

Rendering endnotes is easy - just include them at the end and link with
REL="Endnote" (with a link of REV="Endnote" at the endnote so you can get back
to the reference quickly).

In the case of footnotes, there are some possible cheats. In visual media there
is no difficulty since footnotes and endnotes will *always* be at the end of the
document - no pages, hence no page footers, hence no footnotes. Printing causes
some problems. Fixed positioning in CSS2 offers a way of creating page headers
and footers in printed media, but there's no way to generate them dynamically
for each page printed. If we go completely off the wall and talk of our dream
user agent, then client-side methods could be enabled in printed media and you
could have the dynamic generation there, but that would, in the end, reduce the
semantic meaning of such footnotes and hinder transcribability, as you mention.

I don't know much SGML, but I suspect DSSSL would be able to handle this. There
is no element that conveys the semantics correctly, though, and yes, the HTML
3.0 proposed syntax was rather nice. You can use endnotes for now as described
above, I suppose.

-- Stephanos Piperoglou -- stephanos@internet.com ---------------------
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Received on Tuesday, 9 June 1998 13:03:08 UTC

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