Re: 3.12.8 dfn automatic cross-referencing

Thanks Ian,

Pretty happy with that: simple and backwards compatible. There's the
xhtml2 concept of 'put @href on any element' but I'm happy using <a>

On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 10:46 AM, Ian Hickson <> wrote:

>  > <p>The <dfn>Garage Door Opener (<abbr>GDO</abbr>)</dfn>
>  The term being defined is "Garage Door Opener", so I'd say the right
>  markup is:
>    <p>The <dfn>Garage Door Opener</dfn> (GDO) is...

Be great to see an example like this in the spec: how to markup a
common writing technique.
Also recommended by WCAG that "Providing the expansion in the main
body of the document also helps document usability." (although WCAG
examples do not demonstrate this).

> > If we're feeling courageous, some guidance on which abbreviations are
>  > worth the markup would be great.
>  Right now the rule is basically "use <abbr> if you're giving an
>  expansion", but this may change, as people seem to want to mark up
>  abbreviations even without expansions. I'm not sure what advice to give,
>  though. Any suggestions? As far as I can tell it's:
>   * Definitely mark up any abbreviation you want to give an expansion for.
>   * Mark up abbreviations and give expansions for them if they're terms
>    that your readers may not know.
>   * Mark up other abbreviations if you need them semantically annotated
>    (e.g. because you want to style abbreviations).
>  Would that be enough?

Yep, that's pretty good. Maybe clarify the second point to more
explicitly suggest mark up for terms that are invented on that website
(e.g. by the company/person the site represents).

Personally I reserve dfn for terms defined by the organisation/person
behind the website. Otherwise I'd link to an external site (maybe an
online dictonary/encyclopaedia) or trust the user to do their own
research... context menus in many browsers support this nowadays so
I'm pretty cavalier as an author.

Also agree anything in common use (a good measure is publication in
dictionaries) doesn't need explicit definition (an exception to that
rule being elearning material ON that very term perhaps, and
dictionary/encyclopaedia websites... but these are special cases, not
needing special markup just with their own application of rules), so
perhaps discourage use of markup in those cases as being needlessly

Yes, I think the rules you wrote cover all this broadly, and improve
on WCAG advice:

Might be worth throwing something in to say the dfn and/or abbr tags
may be used with "acronyms" and other specialised "shortened forms"
(initialisms, contractions, ...). Had enough needless debates over
that, would like to just point at the spec and say "see, it is ok. we
won't be hurting anyone".


Received on Wednesday, 23 April 2008 11:57:42 UTC