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Re: Comments on XHTML 2.0 Working Draft

From: Michael Bowen <fizzbowen@mindspring.com>
Date: Wed, 07 Aug 2002 15:15:01 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: www-html@w3.org

At 05:10 2002/08/07, Jonny Axelsson wrote:

>I don't think this will ever happen (I am not entirely certain it should).
>If we take away b, i, and tt, people will use strong, emphasis and code. If
>we take away strong, emphasis and code, people will use <span class="b">,
><span class="i">, <span class="tt">. If we take away span, people will use
>another language.

Web page authors need to (be encouraged to) think about the structural 
reasons for using bold, italic, or teletype in their documents (as well as 
other formatting such as text centering, subscripts, and superscripts). CSS 
allows (and should encourage) us to specify \various reasons\ for using 
these embellishments within a single document, even though they may \render 
identically\. For example, in a bibliography, book titles are routinely 
italicized, not for reasons of emphasis but to show that they are titles. 
But what if mathematical variables are discussed in the same document, in 
addition to phrases that are actually meant to be emphasized?

 From the viewpoint of good practice AIUI (that is, making a document's 
structure self-documenting), it makes sense (even in XHTML 1.0) to use 
distinct constructions within a single document, such as

<span class="booktitle">Title of Book</span>,

<span class="mathvar">x</span>, and either

<span class="emphasized">this text emphasized solely for the sake of 
emphasis</span> or
<em>this text emphasized solely for the sake of emphasis</em>.

This is true even though all of these would, with appropriate CSS, render 
as italics in garden-variety browsers. In other words, well-written pages 
should already not be using <i> or <em> or <span class="italicized"> for 
everything that is to be italicized on the page.

This approach has several advantages, not the least of which is that if, 
for some reason, we suddenly want book titles not to be italicized, we can 
change the CSS for "span.booktitle" in one place, rather editing the 
elements at the dozens or hundreds of possible places where we might 
reference a book title in our (X)HTML files. Variable names, emphasized 
phrases, and other italicized beasties would remain undisturbed despite the 
global scope of such a hypothetical booktitle change.

Received on Wednesday, 7 August 2002 18:15:14 UTC

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