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In support of the "line space" (nee <hr>)

From: Micah Dubinko <MDubinko@cardiff.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 23:45:10 -0700
Message-ID: <E840F0B7E6189547BDB91DA8BF2228AB28C6C7@csmail.cardiff.com>
To: "'www-html@w3.org'" <www-html@w3.org>

The initial Working Draft of XHTML includes a <hr> element in the
"presentation" module. I will provide evidence that this is an incorrect
classification in some cases.

Here is a quote from Orson Scott Card's _Ender's Game__: (p 260)

  Graff seemed unconcerned. But then, Graff always seemed unconcerned. The
next day everything changed. Graff went away, and in his place they gave
Ender a companion.


  He was in the room when Ender awoke in the morning. He was an old man. ...

On this particular printed page, the separator "---" is rendered as about a
1 cm line with lots of whitespace above and below. It is also commonly
rendered as three asterisks.

Separators such as this indicate a "break in the action", and often a
character viewpoint change as well. They are part of the story, and not just
decoration, like say border-bottom. In __Characters and Viewpoint__, also by
Orson Scott Card, he says (p 157)

  The next-clearest [after changing viewpoint characters on a chapter
boundary] transitional device is the "line space"--a double-double space if
you work on a typewriter, two hard carriage returns if you work on a word
processor. ... Usually a line space is marked in manuscript with three
asterisks, like this:

                  *          *           *

  The asterisks will usually appear in the finished book or magazine only if
the line space falls at a page break. The rest of the time they'll be
deleted, leaving only a blank line.

This shows that the line space carries special semantics that for instance
an ebook reader or speech device (and hopefully mainstream browsers) could
render specially. The reason for the quotations is to show that this is a
widespread practice, and should be supported in XHTML. An empty <p/> or
<line/> wouldn't work.

Admittedly, most instances of <hr> on the Web today probably are
presentational, and should be discouraged. So, I would like to request:

1. Change the name of <hr> to <linespace> or something similar.
2. Include the renamed element in the Text module instead of the
Presentation module
3. Include an explanation and example of proper usage.


Received on Wednesday, 21 August 2002 02:45:21 UTC

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