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

From: Simon Jessey <simon@jessey.net>
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 17:19:13 -0400
Message-ID: <001101c31739$ce251fa0$6401a8c0@Simon2S0JP11>
To: <www-html@w3.org>

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Lewis" <lewi0371@mrs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: <strong> is not equivalent to <em> <em>

> 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).


> 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 think the <strong> element carries a completely different significance to
the <em> element. Associating them with bold or italic is just a throwback
to old habits. When I think of emphasis, I think of a subtle difference in
physical, emotional, visual or auditory delivery, to set apart something
from its normal flow. In contrast, when I think of strength, I don't think
of subtlety at all. Emotions are heightened and there might be more
aggression. Perhaps something is being shouted or perhaps something smells
powerful. I think emphasis and strength, while being obviously related, are
still independent of one another, and both are therefore necessary.

The use of nested <em> elements to indicate strength seems to be contrary to
my understanding of what <strong> is supposed to be. Although <strong> was
originally supposed to be 'stronger emphasis', I believe it has grown beyond
that into something more useful and versatile. Nested <em> elements might
have a place too, but I would not be in favor of that mechanism replacing

In summary, I think <strong> is a perfectly useful, unique element that
should be retained. Perhaps it needs a redefinition?

Simon Jessey

w: http://jessey.net/blog/
e: simon@jessey.net
Received on Saturday, 10 May 2003 17:19:10 UTC

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