W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > January 2008

Re: Underline element.

From: Ca Phun Ung <caphun@yelotofu.com>
Date: Fri, 04 Jan 2008 03:11:43 +0800
Message-ID: <477D336F.6040208@yelotofu.com>
To: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>

The question of whether <u> should be dropped begs a bigger question of 
whether <b>, <i> and other presentational markup should go as well. I 
see no place for these other than backwards compatibility. Leaving these 
elements in the spec (note: the <u> element is not part of the spec and 
I'm glad it's gone) causes more confusion than clarity and has a 
negative effect on semantics. We will continue to see <b> and <i> 
wrongly used for <strong> and <em> respectively or vis-versa well into 

The point Oliver Gendrin made with regards to Chinese underlining names 
is a valid point that should not be overlooked. Catering for an 
international audience should be a high priority of HTML5 as East meets 
West. PHP6 is adapting to this trend by being UTF-8 compliant, hence in 
the not so distant future we'd see PHP code written in Chinese or a 
non-English language! I'm not suggesting we do the same with HTML5 but 
should we not consider the implications of these presentational elements 
when put into the context of another language?

Take the <i> and Ship name example. If a ship name is always italicized 
in English then it should be underlined in Chinese. So if an English 
document is translated containing some italicized ship names, <i> will 
not make sense when translated into Chinese. CSS could be used to change 
the look of all <i> elements so they are underlined but we cannot be 
certain that only ship names are wrapped in <i>, and I'm sure in English 
we certainly don't wrap all names with <i>.

In my view, the <b> and <i> elements are an attempt to allow general 
purpose elements in order to cover those areas of semantics we're not 
that bothered with, such as <name> and <term>. I understand we cannot 
create elements for each and every semantic meaning under the Sun but we 
could at least remove those elements that add no value to HTML, namely 
<b>, <i> and <u>.

Richard Ishida, W3C Internationalisation Lead, did a good presentation 
on internationalisation and talks a bit about some issues with the <i> 


I hope I don't offend anyone or stir up strife with this post but I just 
wanted to add my two cents to this thread.
Received on Friday, 4 January 2008 15:00:38 UTC

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