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Re: [RFE] small-caps

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 10:08:39 +0100
Message-ID: <7974392234.20030121100839@w3.org>
To: www-style@w3.org, "Simon Jessey" <simon@jessey.net>
CC: "Sander Tekelenburg" <tekelenb@euronet.nl>

On Monday, January 20, 2003, 2:57:20 PM, Simon wrote:

SJ> -----Original Message-----
SJ> From: www-style-request@w3.org [mailto:www-style-request@w3.org]On
SJ> Behalf Of Sander Tekelenburg
SJ> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2003 1:00 AM
SJ> To: www-style@w3.org
SJ> Subject: [RFE] small-caps

SJ> <<A recent discussion on <www-html@w3.org> about ABBR led me[*] to believe
SJ> it
SJ> would be good to add a more explicit explanation of what exactly is meant
SJ> with "small-caps" in the CSS specs, at
SJ> <http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/fonts.html#propdef-font-variant>.

SJ> I expected {font-variant: small-caps} to mean change text to small
SJ> capitals. It doesn't. Only lowercase characters are transformed.
SJ> Capitals remain captials.

That is the meaning of 'small caps'. There are still both upper and
lower case *letters* but the *glyphs* used for lower case letters use
the forms that upper-case letters usually have (but made a little
smaller, so that they can be distinguished). Specifically, if you were
to select this small caps text, copy and paste it, you would get
regular mixed case lettering.

SJ> I believe I understand the logic behind that now, but no thanks to
SJ> the specs ;) I strongly suspect that most people who are not
SJ> typographers would be equally confused. And since the reality is
SJ> that most people who build websites are not typgraphers, it would
SJ> help the quality of the Web if the specs would try to avoid such
SJ> confusion.

I don't believe the specs are confused (but then, I wrote the
description in the spec) however I agree that an example at that point
would be helpful.

SJ> Since there don't seem to be comparable cases in the CSS specs, I
SJ> think adding a short note to that particular section would be the
SJ> appropriate way to make the specs more clear. Something like:

SJ>         "Note that font-variant does <EM>not</EM> automatically
SJ>         imply a text-transform.

Yes; specifically, it does not imply any transformation at all.

SJ>  For instance, {font-variant: small caps} only applies to
SJ>         lowercase text.

This is incorrect. It applies to both upper and lower case text.

SJ> To have it apply to capitals, {text-transform: lowercase}
SJ>         must be added."

Perhaps, though that is orthogonal.

SJ> Users of WYSIWYG word processors, such as Microsoft Word, have has a
SJ> small-caps option for years. A word processor uses a small-caps version of a
SJ> font if it is available, otherwise it creates one by making small, uppercase
SJ> versions of the lowercase characters.

Yes, a compliant implementation is allowed to do that if that is the
best it can do. Its a typographically ugly simulation, but closer to
the authors intent than ignoring it entirely.

SJ> Perhaps the problem with the specification is that it wrongly
SJ> assumes that authors are already familiar with this WYSIWYG tool

Small caps were not invented by or specific to MS Word.

 Chris                            mailto:chris@w3.org
Received on Tuesday, 21 January 2003 04:11:20 UTC

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