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Re: XHTML 2.0 - dfn : Content model and usability

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005 21:39:45 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200507052039.j65Kdjp07795@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-html@w3.org

> 
> The dfn element contains a word (or a group of words) being defined by  
> one or more sentences.

Historically, it is really not that specific.  It means that portion
of the text that would be highlighted in italics in traditional 
British typography.  It's semantics are that the contents should not
be treated as being an undefined plain language symbol but as being
declared at that point with a definition provided in the context
(I've used a programming terms to describe what is not really a
programming concept).

> to this definition. It's human usability. Though someone could argue  
> that:
> 
> 	An <span id="def-acronym">acronym</span> is a word
> 	formed from the initial letters or groups of letters
>      of words in a set phrase or series of words.
> 
> is not a loss in usability at all. The dfn element having not direct  
> benefits for the user. Even better someone could choose to do.

Firstly, span should only be used as a last resort, when there is no
more specific element.  Secondly, as its origins are traditional
typography, a benefit was perceived for the user long before the 
web was invented.

There are a number of other elements that also correspond to specific
traditional uses of italics.
Received on Tuesday, 5 July 2005 21:12:15 GMT

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