current definition of <figure> in HTML is problematic

I think the current definition [4] of  the figure element leads to
developers thinking that they cannot use it to caption an image or images
that are ket parts of the content:

"The element can thus be used to annotate illustrations, diagrams, photos,
code listings, etc, that are referred to from the main content of the
document, but that could, without affecting the flow of the document, be
moved away from that primary content, e.g. to the side of the page, to
dedicated pages, or to an appendix."

For example, in this current discussion

developers are making statements such as [1]:

"I donít think figure is appropriate, because itís for things that can be
taken out of flow and moved to an appendix, and the pins on the page are
the whole point of the flow"

"<figure>s are intended to contain accessory content, not the main
substance of the section in question. The spec says they can be moved away
from the main flow of the document without affecting the documentís
meaning. I therefore donít think itís appropriate to use them for the main
image and description here." [2]

And highly influential developers such as Jeremy Keith appear to agree [3]

There appears to be no good reason why a page containing an image that is
the main content of the page (example:
should not be captioned using the following pattern, if fact it should be


<figcaption> caption text</figcaption>

Suggest modifying the definition to remove the unecessary constraint on
figure use.


with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG | |
HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives -
Web Accessibility Toolbar -

Received on Thursday, 24 January 2013 09:45:34 UTC