W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2007

Re: argument for deprecating BLOCKQUOTE in canonical HTML/XHTML

From: Murray Maloney <murray@muzmo.com>
Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2007 18:03:41 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: public-html@w3.org

Very well written, but I disagree entirely.

A BLOCKQUOTE is a distinguished paragraph. It is presentational markup
in the same sense that <P> and <OL> are presentational markup. And I support
the existence of that class of presentational markup for documents on the Web.
Using the same element inline and as a block is confusing. Besides which,


At 04:08 PM 4/2/2007 -0500, Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:

>1. why deprecate BLOCKQUOTE?
>A) it is misused as presentational markup;
>B) it is a presentational model taken from print
>conventions, rather than semantic meaning.  if Q was
>ubiquitously implemented, one could use styling rules
>to create a Q instance with the properties of a block
>quotation - that is, as a paragraph indented at least
>5em on both left and right margins;
>C) BLOCKQUOTE has no semantic meaning - it is
>merely one means of many of demarcating any quote
>an arbitrary number of sentences long.
>D) a quote is a quote is a quote - how it is
>demarcated as a quote is a presentational matter;
>what is important is that the material be logically
>and consistently marked up, so why have 2 forms of
>QUOTE, when only one is needed?
>E) as a user of non-visual renderers, i would
>greatly appreciate my screen reader letting me
>know where a quote begins and where it ends, no
>matter how large or small the QUOTE, if i am to
>cite the quote, or go to the target at which it
>points, i have to know where it begins and ends,
>not whether it is indented and presented in a
>specific styling; this is part and parcel of my
>argument, outlined in my proposal for reforming
>the Q element: a user agent should recognize a
>quote when it encounters one, and apply aural
>or screen or print media selectors so that the
>end user knows where the quotation begins and
>where it ends; this is why i believe that
>emphatic quotes should be marked up using the
>EM element, and styled, if the author so desires,
>through the use of CSS-generated quotation marks;
>F) BLOCKQUOTE, is - by definition -
>presentational in nature, and is used as a
>presentational, rather than a semantic element
>of document design slash implementation.  the
>print convention of seperating a quote of more
>than 3 sentences in a block of text, seperated
>from the main text by blank lines at top and
>bottom, with twice the whitespace on left and
>right margins, than the main text.  there is
>NOTHING semantically sensible about preserving
>BLOCKQUOTE, as a quote is a quote is a quote -
>what is important to the renderer is where does
>the quote begin and where does the quote end, so
>that appropriate style rules can be applied,
>either by default, specified by the author or
>subject to a client side styling rule; thus, it
>is up to the author, using CSS, to define the
>presentational characteristics a quote will
>take, if that author wishes to replicate the
>print convention of a BLOCKQUOTE.  the only
>thing that seperates a BLOCKQUOTE from a Q
>(quote) is how it is rendered by a user agent;
>despite its distinctive styling, a quote is
>still a quote, is still a quote, and canonical
>HTML/XHTML should recognize that simple fact.
>G) Q itself MUST be reformed, with the attribute
>SRC replacing the current definition of the CITE
>attribute (a target URI from which the quote is
>taken, and the re-definition of the CITE
>attribute, to enable human-readable citations,
>as outlined in:
>2. lingering issues (feel free to add any):
>A) Quotes will need to be nested within one
>another, for often one quotes a source which, in
>turn, quotes a third party; is redefining the Q
>element as neither an inline nor block element,
>but as a "flow" element, equal to this task?
>B) the Q element is defined in XHTML Strict as an
>inline element, but it will either need to be
>contained in the P element when used to indicate
>an extended quotation, or - optimally - the other
>way around, so that Q can be used inline, for
>brief quotations, as well as for extended
>quotations, such as dialogue from a play,
>citations from legal documents, or the use of
>a partial quote as part of contextualizing
>text which leads to an extended quote.
><!-- begin example of Q as both an inline and a block element -->
><!-- string of intro text with a --><Q src="" cite=""></Q>
><!-- nested in it, leading to an extended quote -->
><Q src="" cite="">
><!-- end example of Q as both an inline and a block element -->
>here is the barebones outline above with some flesh on the
>skeleton, as well as illustrating the possibility of using a
>for/id association with the source contained in a CITE
>for="q17>Conscious of our many problems,</Q>; Edison continued,
><P class="indented-quote">
> >I seek today to lay a foundation to our public policy. My
>fundamental purpose is to devote my term of office to raising
>the standard of public service in New Jersey.  I want to say
>here and now, that I demand unshakable integrity of every
>State employee.
>Edison proceeded to assure the legislature that, as governor, he
>for="q17">seek to cooperate with it in the advancement of the
>public interest</Q>, and pledged to predicate his exercise
>of gubernatorial authority
>upon the principle of promoting the common good. We all know that
>heavy demands are placed upon each one of us to play politics. We
>know also, that delay and obstruction of governmental action is
>the only certain result when that game is started.
>I am confident that this legislature will rise above partisan
>bickering, especially after the public promises its members made
>last fall, and that it will demonstrate a high capacity for civil
>Edison then renewed his pledge to <Q
>for="q17">exert every effort to reduce public expenses</Q>,
>and called upon <Q
>for="q17">all public officials in the State and local governments</Q>
>to do likewise.
><!-- ... -->
><cite id="q17">Edison Inaugural Discuss Labor, Education, Reform;
>Calls Defense First Concern; Will Ask Legislation to Protect
>Production Program in State; Text of Governor Edison's Message.
>(Newark Evening News, January 21, 1941; pages 1,7)</cite>
>ABSURDITY, n.  A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with
>one's own opinion.      -- Ambrose Bierce (The Devils' Dictionary)
>                Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
Received on Monday, 2 April 2007 22:31:50 UTC

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