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Re: Correct usage of the q element

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2004 02:34:05 +0200 (EET)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0402080223510.5867@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Sat, 7 Feb 2004, Toby A Inkster wrote:

> <q> should not be used as a general substitute to quote marks, but
> only for genuine quotations (things that have sources other than the
> current document).

More importantly, the <q> element was poorly designed and poorly
implemented. Even as of today, over six years after the approval of the
HTML 4 specification, the use of <q> gives no actual benefit over using
quotation marks. With rare exceptions, it at best gives you
typographically incorrect quotation marks (Ascii quotation marks),
and in far too many situations, it results in quotations not being shown
as quotations at all.

Luckily <q> is being phased out in favor of a differently defined
<quote> element in XHTML 2.0.

However, <quote> will probably be just harmless (unlike <q> has been) and
won't be used much. There's no tangible gain to be expected. In theory, of
course, it is useful to indicate quotations as quoted text, since
quotation marks are not always unambiguous. But if any software ever
starts making real use of such markup, shouldn't it start from recognizing
quotations as quoted text by the use of quotation marks? It's not 100%
sure of course, but quotation marks are _far_ more common for years to
come, anyway. Actually if we take such possibilities seriously, we should
realistically define an element like <notq> for indicating that something
is not quoted text, despite being in quotation marks. I'm half-serious.

The original idea of <q> as explained in the SGML Handbook was very good.
Too bad neither the designers nor the implementors of HTML took a
look. It's too late now, I'm afraid.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Saturday, 7 February 2004 19:34:08 UTC

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