Question from XHTML-L: Content in CSS?

This question came up on the XHTML-L mailing list; I've quoted my
reply below which contains some context and the body of my concern.

Namely, that by eliminating the start/value attributes for ordered
lists and choosing to rely upon CSS 2, the XHTML working group has
made the mistake of embedding actual -content- (the "correct" 
number values for an item are content or meta-content) in CSS, which
is a no-no.

Is this something for the WCAG group (to add to our guidelines "don't
do this even though by spec you can"), for P&F (as it represents an
error in XHTML/HTML Strict), or even for the XHTML working group 
itself?  I'm not sure if I'm writing to the right place or not.


PS:  I think that this example is related to why I didn't like the
      previous proposal floated on this list for resolving abuse
      of "class."  By suggesting that semantics be embedded in
      CSS via a property for that purpose, and presenting that to
      the user via exposing "class" information, you're ignoring the
      WCAG checkpoint which requires pages to be usable without
      CSS.  What's needed is better use of the markup, not a hack
      in CSS nor elimination of class.

>Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2000 13:03:35 -0800
>From: Kynn Bartlett <>
>Subject: RE: [XHTML-L] Question on start/value attributes for <ol>, <li> elements
>At 12:57 PM 12/24/2000 , wrote:
>>I've dug around the Web looking for how to actually do this, but have not
>>found any documentation stating how an author of an XHTML 1.0 Strict document
>>has full control *in markup* over ordered list numbering using the CSS2
>>counter-increment and counter-reset constructs.  Maybe it's trivially easy,
>>but the examples in
>>are inadequate.
>To the best of my knowledge there's no way to do this in markup,
>only in CSS.  Which is somewhat worrisome, as the W3C's Web
>Content Accessibility Guidelines [1] specify that pages should be
>usable without CSS; this could prove problematic if numbering is
>reserved for CSS.
>Thus, the removal of start/value attributes, which are actually
>encoded content (not presentation), is problematic.

Kynn Bartlett  <>          
Sr. Engineering Project Leader, Reef-Edapta
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet
Contributor, Special Edition Using XHTML
Unofficial Section 508 Checklist 

Received on Monday, 25 December 2000 04:51:18 UTC