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Question on <abbr /> element use

From: Jens Meiert <jens.meiert@erde3.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 14:57:20 +0100 (MET)
To: "W3C WAI" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "W3C HTML" <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <16239.1077717440@www16.gmx.net>

Well, I wonder what is recommended by both WAI and HTML WG encountering a
text where e.g. 'W3C' appears twice -- is it recommended to use the <abbr />
element twice or is it allowed to use it once, that means, the first time it

From my understanding of HTML semantics it's legitimate (and maybe even
recommended) to use it twice, although there's no force to use it all. From my
understanding of accessibility, it's better to use it twice (including the
'title' attribute twice, too) to ensure that its meaning is clear each time an
user wonders what 'W3C' stands for.

On the other hand and from my understanding of usability, it's by all means
good (and for me even best) to define it once the abbreviation (or acronym,
see the note below) occurs (of course related to each term, e.g., 'WWW' would
have to be explained separately). And that's what I do when creating a media
dependent stylesheet for such a document, where I expand the 'title'
attribute's value to be displayed in parentheses:

    abbr[title]:after {
    content: ' (' attr(title) ')';

Consequently and since I only use the <abbr /> element when an abbreviation
occurs for the first time, its meaning is only printed once (and, related to
screens, only displayed once via the tooltip behavior, too). -- I think
that's not a good approach since I semantically leave out the second 'W3C'
appearance and since I let down people who just passed the first appearance and
wonder what this term means.

The only solution I see is to solve it this way:

    <abbr title="World Wide Web Consortium">W3C</abbr>

Now again, what do you advise, is this an appropriate way to handle this

TIA, best regards,

Note: I exemplarily use the <abbr /> element here though 'W3C' is an
acronym, because <acronym /> seems to be ignored by upcoming XHTML 2.0. I don't
agree to this decision (since it seems necessary to keep this element or create a
more generic one than at least <abbr />), but I accept it. And there already
was a large discussion on this topic.

Jens Meiert
Interface Architect

Received on Wednesday, 25 February 2004 08:59:04 UTC

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