Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

I'm still wondering if HTML5 should define an element for less than
normal importance or emphasis.

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Wed, 11 May 2005, fantasai wrote:
>>   # Note: The small element does not "de-emphasise" or lower the
>>   # importance of text emphasised by the em element or marked as
>>   # important with the strong element.
>>   Does <small> de-emphasize the text at all? This paragraph implies
>>   that it does, except within <em> or <strong>, but it is not clear
>>   from the definition.
> I think it would be hard to argue that making text smaller isn't 
> de-emphasising the text. I mean, the whole point of hiding legalese in 
> small text is to make the reader not read it.

So <small> means less important than normal (default) importance of
plain text, if I've understood correctly when used outside <em> or
<strong>. However, it does not lower the importance/emphasis of <em> or
<strong>. I don't like this difference.

Is there a difference in the semantics of these two examples:

1) <p><small><strong>License: GFDL</strong></small></p>
2) <p><strong><small>License: GFDL</small></strong></p> ?

Does the <small> element mean different things when it's a child of
<strong> or <em> or any other element?

> On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Jonathan Worent wrote:
>> If this cannot be done then I would suggest as an alternative: Add 2 new 
>> elements. One for indicating de-emphasis, One of indicating less 
>> importance. I leave the naming of them to you.
> Less importance can be done just by ending the <strong> element. Side 
> notes can be marked with <small>. I don't think there is a concept of 
> "less than normal stress emphasis" that really makes sense to mark up.

If I have a sentence where the less important part is in the middle of
the sentence but the whole sentence is important, I would want to mark
up the whole sentence as a single element. I think that there's a
difference between

<p><strong>An important sentence <small>with less important part</small>


<p><strong>An important sentence</strong> with less important part
<strong> continues...</strong></p>

Perhaps it's just me, but I think that the latter markup represents that
there're two separate important parts in that paragraph. I think there
should be exactly one important part and one less important part.

> On Fri, 9 Feb 2007, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
>> I believe that <aside> and <small> are different from de-emphasis (that 
>> would be <dem> IMHO). However, the <dem> element wouldn't be that often 
>> used and it would be vital for it to be easily implemented. A new 
>> element with specified semantics and a simple default CSS style would be 
>> a nice choice. An example *implementation* could be a single CSS rule:
>>  dem { opacity: 0.8 }
>> How hard it would be to implement the behavior David described above? 
>> Take any existing UA as a base.
> Would would this element mean?

I assume you meant "what would this element mean?".

<dem> would mean "less emphasized / lower importance than the
surrounding content". I believe that the separation between less
emphasized and lowered importance is not required so only one element is

>> And why do I think that <aside> and <small> are different from <dem>? 
>> Because I think <aside> (or a footnote) is something you can safely 
>> ignore and is usually orthogonal to the rest of the content. <small> is 
>> something you usually skip but you must be aware of the content (e.g. a 
>> copyright or license boilerplate) - the key here is that the content is 
>> often repeated but if you have read it *once*, then you may skip it 
>> later. The <dem> would be something that you may skip without reading it 
>> once but which is not orthogonal to the rest of the content and as such 
>> shouldn't be considered equal to <aside>.
>> Example:
>>  <p>One should <em>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code>
>>  in a UNIX shell <dem>because doing so would remove
>>  everything in the system</dem></em>.</p>
>> Here I think that the explanation is also something that should be 
>> emphasized. However, the reader can safely ignore the explanation. I 
>> think that <dem> shouldn't be considered to be equal strength to <em> 
>> but something less. Logically it could be -0.5 emphasis.
> Why not:
>    <p>One should <strong>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code> in a UNIX 
>    shell</strong> (because doing so would remove everything in the 
>    system).</p>
> ...? That seems cleaner and just as clear.

For plain text case I agree that using the parenthesis is enough.
However, if the content is something else but just plain text (an
<object> for example) an element is required to mark up the semantics.

However, I agree that default rendering for such markup is hard to
define. Any variation in text style can easily understood as positive
emphasis and a generic rendering of lower than normal importance
<object> is really hard to define.

In the end, perhaps <small> should be used for de-emphasis of any
content other than plain text. Parenthesis can then be used for
de-emphasis of normal content.


Received on Tuesday, 15 April 2008 08:27:23 UTC