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Re: Bold vs Strong

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2018 17:37:47 -0500
To: ann junker <ann.junker@gmail.com>
Cc: kerscher@montana.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-Id: <OF6B12E487.0008E223-ON862582E2.007B36D1-862582E2.007C4FF6@notes.na.collabserv.com>
> ... The b and i tags were part of HTML to style the text, though did not 
provide semantic meaning

Not exactly correct, perhaps if it was written with some caveats, such as 
The b and i tags were [originally and mostly] part of HTML to style the 
text, though [they both] did not provide [some little ] semantic meaning. 

ignoring visual presentation for a moment, both <strong> and <b> are 
needed and can / should be used to set apart part of a heading or a part 
of some other semantic element such as cite or quote, etc.  Using CSS 
alone to convey the part of the heading or part of the some other semantic 
mark-up *is a failure* to meet SC 1.3.1 
Phill Jenkins
Check out the new system for requesting an IBM product Accessibility 
Conformance Report VPATŪ at  able.ibm.com/request
Senior Engineer & Accessibility Executive
IBM Research Accessibility


From:   ann junker <ann.junker@gmail.com>
To:     kerscher@montana.com
Cc:     w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Date:   08/07/2018 04:52 PM
Subject:        Re: Bold vs Strong

These pages may help in terms of what HTML and browsers believe the 
styling and semantics for em and strong are, which are generally used 
within paragraphs, span, div, and table tags. If another tag, like headers 
or labels, are used - it's best to style those with css rather than add 
more html around the text. These tags already have semantic meaning and 
adding more can cause confusion in meaning and complicate styling - making 
unhappy developers.

The b and i tags were part of HTML to style the text, though did not 
provide semantic meaning. As seen from the html_phrase_test link above, 
browsers general style em as italics and strong as bold, but you can use 
css to style how every you need without changing the semantics. 
Hypothetically, would you use the b tag with css to unbold it? Or would 
using the strong tag be better without bolding?


On Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 3:51 PM George Kerscher <kerscher@montana.com> 
Hello folks,

Well, I thought I would jump in...

>From the digital publishing space, now part of the W3C, comes my 

Is this correct markup that would work for everybody?

Let us say from this grammar book:

In the following examples the words in bold are nouns, verbs are italic,
adjectives are double-underlined, and adverbs are underlined. If the
students would like to read the explicit semantics, please expand the
details to find the part of speech immediately before the word.

<p aria-details="#for-screen-readers">The <strong
class="double-underline">red</strong> <b>fox</b> <em
class="underline">quickly</em> <em>ran</em> away.</p>
<details id="for-screen-readers"><summary>with explicit 
The (adjective) red (noun) fox (adverb) quickly (verb) ran away.</details>


-----Original Message-----
From: chagnon@pubcom.com <chagnon@pubcom.com> 
Sent: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 1:28 PM
To: 'w3c-wai-ig' <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Subject: RE: Bold vs Strong

Great question, Janina.

The concept of tags to indicate when text is italicized and bolded goes 
to the mid- to late-1990s, if I recall correctly. 20 years ago.

The idea was how could we convey the visual formatting we were putting on
certain words for certain purposes. Both bold and italics are used to
emphasize words, or stress them if they are being spoken.

I know we also talked briefly about other uses of formatting, such as 
bold to format headings (usually, but not always), and using italics for 
sorts of text like publication titles, foreign words, medical and 
terms, citations, ship names, and many more. But that part of the 
faded and never went further.

All these uses are just conventions of American English grammar; British
grammar varies a bit, but is mostly the same.

I doubt think that the emphasis and strong tags have worked out as well as
we thought they would. One primary reason: how many assistive technologies
actually recognize and announce them? Another is just as you mentioned:
strong and emphasis can be swapped between bold and italics and it 
matter much to a screen reader user.

A bolded heading doesn't need to have the bold/strong information relayed
because the "importance of being bold" is implied in the Hx heading tags
themselves. But I'd like to see more tags based on usage, rather than 
formatting; Tags for titles of publications, citations, foreign terms, 
I think those would be very beneficial to the our users because they 
not just the visual formatting but also the intention or meaning of the

Any development in this area will need to go through the various standards
committees for WCAG, PDF/UA, EPUB, etc.

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-----Original Message-----
From: Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net> 
Sent: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 1:57 PM

Phil, All:

I recognize WCAG has been suggesting that "strong" and "emphasis" are
semantic designations for many, many years.

May I ask where we got this definition? I can't seem to find any grammar
text that speaks of bold or italics using such terms. So, what's our

I'd like to know because I, myself, am constantly getting them confused in
my own mind. I don't have that same problem with bold or italic, even 
are type-faces I haven't seen for myself in decades.

Let me hasten to underscore my strong support for semantic markup. I'm 
not convinced these two terms are all that semantic. They strike me as
rather arbitrary. I could equally accept a definition that said bold 
emphasis, and italics equals strong.

So, please educate me.

Received on Tuesday, 7 August 2018 22:38:19 UTC

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