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Re: Suggested wording improvements for <i> and <b> sections

From: Ben Boyle <benjamins.boyle@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2008 12:51:57 +1000
Message-ID: <5f37426b0802011851t2d0f7ae6r133188d93362c2d1@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Richard Ishida" <ishida@w3.org>
Cc: "HTML WG Public List" <public-html@w3.org>
On Feb 2, 2008 1:28 AM, Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org> wrote:
> These are personal thoughts, unless the i18n WG decides to endorse them later.

Good thoughts, thanks for sharing!

> So I would suggest an alternative wording along the lines of "The i/b element should only be used as a last resort when no other element is available and you want the text to be visually distinct when the text is separated from its style sheet or you are in situation where you cannot use a style sheet. This should only be used as a fallback device, however. It is much better to use an i/b element with a class name that describes the intent of the text, and associate that where possible with a rule in a style sheet."

In a similar vein, I would like a tutorial for authors that works on
the premise that many authors have "presentational needs" (i.e. they
want to know how to make something italics); so the tutorial should
use those needs and guide people towards the various semantic options
available. This is beyond the spec as it does not define what the
element are, rather it defines what markup is best suited to address
specific presentational needs.

Really basic beginning to this is on our wiki:

Class names are an invaluable mechanism where element semantics aren't
as granular as desired. RDFa has also been touted as an alternative
solution to this.

> For example, I would prefer the spec to change its examples slightly like this:
> <p>The <i class="taxonomy">felis silvestris catus</i> is cute.</p>
> <p>The term <i class="term">prose content</i> is defined above.</p>
> <p>There is a certain <i class="foriegn" lang="fr">je ne sais quoi</i> in the air.</p>

I have to ask (to satisfy my own curiosity), wouldn't <cite> or <dfn>
be more appropriate in these examples? I'll go read the latest draft

Ok, <cite> is ruled out as we have not cited any material, and the
italicised text is not the name of the source (i.e. not a citation, as
defined by HTML 5).

I think dfn could be used though, if this were the first instance and
defined the term. Elsewise i would be appropriate and already is
listed as an element that can automatically cross reference with a
dfn. So if we had: <i class="term">prose content</a> is defined above;
then I assume we would have <dfn>prose content</dfn> earlier in the

> PS: I'd still secretly like to replace <i> and <b> with elements that have non-presentation-related names, since I think it would help authors think in a less presentation-oriented way, but I don't think I'd win that battle.

An accurate assessment, and this is why I think we should introduce
authors to semantics using "how to achieve the presentation you want"
as a sort of lead into "these are the elements that do what you mean"
(not "what you see") ... as a complement to all the good semantic
documentation that already exists.

And I agree wholeheartedly with your "let's make the best of i and b"
approach over "let's throw them away and use span" — but that's
another battle that won't be won and authors, well, they'll just have
to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.

Received on Saturday, 2 February 2008 02:52:09 UTC

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