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Re: <strong> is not equivalent to <em> <em>

From: John Lewis <lewi0371@mrs.umn.edu>
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 11:51:19 -0500
Message-ID: <0105825547.20030510115119@cda.mrs.umn.edu>
To: www-html@w3.org

Robin wrote on Saturday, May 10, 2003 at 12:12:50 AM:

> I disagree. In my style sheets, I typically have

> em { font-style: italic }
> em em { font-style: normal }
> strong { font-weight: bold }

> So that emphasized words in emphasized running text get normal
> weight emphasis by being unitalicized, but strong emphasis gets a
> different presentational treatment entirely.
            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
What's the meaning of nested ems other than more and more emphasis?
How the em elements are presented doesn't affect what they mean (i.e.,
roman text in italic text is still adding emphasis, it's just using a
different style to indicate emphasis).

If you want the equivalent of strong emphasis to be a third level of
emphasis, which may be closer to strong's original meaning
(considering most people see "strong" and think "bold"), the
equivalent is still accomplished through a style sheet:

    em{font-style:italic}
    em em{font-style:normal}
    em em em{font-weight:bold}

The point is that it's a style issue, so the strong element still
isn't needed. Default styling should be left up to UAs; there
shouldn't be a dictated style, because you shouldn't be thinking "this
is bold" or "this is italic" as you add emphasis, no more than you
should be thinking "this is big" as you write a header.

I've also seen the strong element used where the dfn element would be
the correct choice. That's another reason we would benefit from
dropping strong.

This does bring up the issue of length:

    <em><em><em></em></em></em>
compared to
    <strong></strong>

I don't think saving a handful of characters is worth adding a
redundant element to XHTML2, for much the same reasons I think having
h1-h6 is silly. If strong has a different meaning than nested ems,
then we must need another element for another level of emphasis, and
another level, and another... Nesting em elements accomplishes the
same flexibility with one element, much like the section and h
elements can replace and extend h1-h6.

Just like documents with six levels or more of sections, documents
that need four levels or more of emphasis are not common (the more
levels you use, the less meaning each one has). Speaking as a hand
author, I don't think it's unreasonable to make people type nine
characters for each new level of emphasis, especially when most of the
emphasis out there is one level.

-- 
John Lewis
Received on Saturday, 10 May 2003 13:19:27 GMT

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