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RE: <HR>

From: Jon Hanna <jon@spinsol.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 17:15:29 -0000
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hash: SHA1

> I still don't often use "<hr />" preferring instead to use <div
> class="newcontext"> or <div class="islandcontext"> or whatever,
> because I'm a purist and I still see <hr /> as being defined [1] in
> HTML 4.01 [2] as a horizontal rule across the page, rather than a
> semantic element indicating a change in context.

It is a pity that the 4.01 spec only describes the visual rendering
of <hr />. The fact that it is not deprecated in 4.0, which
deprecated most of the visual elements and attributes, indicates that
it was not thought of in purely visual terms.

I think all sighted readers know what a horizontal rule means (and
that it is not the same as a horizontal line with no meaning) when
they come across it in text, if only subconsciously, and indeed most
people would automatically pause for longer when they came across it
if reading aloud.
Unfortunately it is a very much abused element, which is presumably
why it was mentioned previously separately from other elements, and
was used solely for presentation in the era when all presentation
code had to come from the HTML. Ironically this has led to it now
being under-used, as the graphically focused would tend to consider
it lacking in functionality compared to a very wide image, etc.

I wouldn't like to see it deprecated, as it has a firm semantic
meaning when used correctly.

In practice one use I put <hr /> to is separating elements which on
graphical browsers are separated by position on screen. In the
classic layout that most clients want (top banner, left hand
navigation, money area to the right of the navigation) I place <hr />
elements with a display style of none and size=0 width=0 (to prevent
them from rendering on non-CSS graphical browsers) after the top
banner area and after the navigation menu. I find this makes the
pages much more readable for sighted users of text-only browsers,
though I doubt it has any effect on people using Braille or

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Received on Thursday, 8 March 2001 12:14:54 UTC

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