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Possible method for adding footnotes.

From: Toby A Inkster <tobyink@goddamn.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 22:04:13 +0000
To: www-html@w3c.org
Message-ID: <20030204220413.GB27640@ophelia.goddamn.co.uk>
There have been one or two suggestions posted to this list for possible 
methods of adding foot-/end-/side-note support to XHTML.

One was to add a <note/> element that works like this:

  <p>
    C. S. Lewis suggested <note>This was in a letter to a young
    fan</note> that his Narnian chronicles had biblical roots.
  </p>

The disadvantage of this would be that a user agent without note support 
would render the note inline as:

  C. S. Lewis suggested This was in a letter to a young fan that his 
  Narnian chronicles had biblical roots.

While this is just about readable, it is obviously not ideal.

My suggestion is an inline element which could be used as follows:

  <p>
    C. S. Lewis suggested <note href="#fanletter">*</note> that his
    Narnian chronicles had biblical roots.
  </p>
  [snip]
  <section>
    <h>Notes</h>
    <ol>
      <li id="fanletter">This was in a letter to a young fan</li>
    </ol>
  </section>

A user agent supporting the <note /> element should replace it with a 
number -- the first note on the page with a 1, etc... like with footnotes. 

This would mean that the page author wouldn't have to manually attach a 
number to each note, which would save valuable editing time if extra notes 
had to be inserted towards the beginning of a long document.

This number may be presented as a clickable link, allowing the user to see 
the note, or alterntively the note could be presented through a tooltip or 
other mechanism, according to the user's preferences.

One possibility would be for the user agent to split any page that used 
<note /> into frames horizontally -- about 80% for the top, 20% for the 
bottom and use the bottom frame to display the notes for whichever parts 
of the document were being displayed in the main frame.

A user agent without support for the note element would display the * (or 
whatever other content was there) as a clickable link, thanks to the href 
attribute, so users of such an agent would be able to access the notes.

So, how do I justify using note, and not just using the <a /> element and 
adding a numbering system using a counter for the CSS "content:" property?

First of all, <note /> has its own semantics, as has been discussed in 
previous threads on footnote support.

Secondly it would be nice for an XHTML browser to support <note /> without 
requiring full (or even any!) CSS support.

-- 
Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
E-mail:   tobyink@goddamn.co.uk
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The SAME WAVE keeps coming in and COLLAPSING like a rayon MUU-MUU ...

Received on Tuesday, 4 February 2003 17:05:13 GMT

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