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RE: Bold vs Strong

From: Vinil Peter <vinilpeter.wcag@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2018 21:49:54 +0530
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <07f55cf5-35bc-4a07-98b7-8fdf8fb892e2@gmail.com>
Dear Colleagues,

Thanks a ton for so many responses to my question on appropriate usage of bold vs strong. After seeing the inputs from this group, I now know that <b> can be used for presentational purposes. However, when the text has more importance than adjacent text, using <strong> is more appropriate. It would be incorrect on the tester's part to recommend replacing every <b> tag with <strong> or vice versa. Every instance should be evaluated carefully and independently and that's the recommendation I will take back to my clients.

I have come out more knowledgeable through this discussion!

Vinil Peter, PMP​

On Aug 8, 2018, 12:17 PM, at 12:17 PM, Adam Cooper <adam.cooper@accesshq.com> wrote:
>Paul wrote:
><Change the coding to <strong> if the intention is to convey additional
>meaning.  Leave it as <b> if the intention is presentational only.>
>my understanding would be to change the coding to <span> with a CSS
>font-weight property if the intention (how is this determined?) is
>And use <b>,<i>,<strong><em> etc. as defined in the current HTML
>specification (take you’re pick of which one – they are the same in
>this regard) so that ‘additional meaning’ might be derived (and
>unambiguous) at some point in the future when screen reader
>manufacturers implement proper support?
>Does anyone know if there is a technical limitation to differentiating
>between these two techniques in the accessibility stack?
>Otherwise wholeheartedly agree – classic case of where automation is
>about discovery and aggregating information rather than testing.
>My two cents worth ….
>From: Paul E Matthews <PaulE.Matthews@ato.gov.au>
>Sent: Wednesday, 8 August 2018 10:46 AM
>To: Vinil Peter <vinilpeter.wcag@gmail.com>
>Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>Subject: RE: Bold vs Strong [SEC=UNOFFICIAL]
>Hi Vinil (et al)
>RE:  The client's internal accessibility testing team marked all the
>instances where <b> was used as errors and recommended to change them
>to <strong> so that screen readers read out the text with added
>I have been following this discussion with interest – and I’ve learnt a
>few things along the way – but I think we need to get back to the
>original issue (above).  To me, this is a clear example of an automated
>test (“marked *all* the instances”) that is not useful or accurate.  If
>your aim is to remove this error from the report, globally replacing
><b> with <strong> will do it.  But is that the aim of accessibility
>My advice is to explain to your client that the use of <b> is *not* an
>error – it’s an indication that human intervention is required.  Each
>use should be based on an assessment of what is intended (emphasis or
>·         It may be the case that most <b> tags should be <strong> tags
>but an automated test can’t tell you for sure.
>·         It may be the case that most <strong> tags are correct
>(following a global change) but automated testing won’t tell you this
>Instead of globally replacing <b> with <strong>, instigate an ongoing
>content review process that includes an assessment of each <b>olded
>piece of text.  Change the coding to <strong> if the intention is to
>convey additional meaning.  Leave it as <b> if the intention is
>presentational only.
>This article –
>(or a synopsis) – may help explain the reality of accessibility
>assessments to your clients.
>Hope this helps …
>Paul E. Matthews
>ATO Community User Interface Designer
>From: Userite [mailto:richard@userite.com]
>Sent: Tuesday, 7 August 2018 7:52 PM
>To: Vinil Peter; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org<mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Subject: Re: Bold vs Strong
>Dear Vinil,
>Richard Ishida (W3C) wrote an article on this issue in 2010 (see
>https://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-b-and-i-tags ).
>His quick answer was  as follows - “You should always bear in mind that
>the content of a b element may not always be bold, and that of an i
>element may not always be italic. The actual style is dependent on the
>CSS style definitions. You should also bear in mind that bold and
>italic may not be the preferred style for content in certain languages.
>You should not use b and i tags if there is a more descriptive and
>relevant tag available. If you do use them, it is usually better to add
>class attributes that describe the intended meaning of the markup, so
>that you can distinguish one use from another. “
>Furthermore the HTML5 specification states that “The b element
>represents a span of text to which attention is being drawn for
>utilitarian purposes without conveying any extra importance and with no
>implication of an alternate voice or mood”
>As a result I believe that your client has a strong case for asking you
>to replace the <b> element with <strong> or <em> or <cite>.
>Be very wary of anyone who claims that, because there is no specified
>failure criteria, they can use an element in a situation where it is
>not “best practice”. just because everyone else is doing it.
><b> enhances the visual effect, but <strong> enhances the meaning as
>Richard Warren
>Technical Manager
>Website Auditing Ltd
>From: Vinil Peter<mailto:vinilpeter.wcag@gmail.com>
>Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2018 4:10 PM
>To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org<mailto:w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Subject: Bold vs Strong
>Dear colleagues,
>I have been asked to provide my thoughts on a debate on the use of bold
><b> and strong <strong> for one of my clients. The client's internal
>accessibility testing team marked all the instances where <b> was used
>as errors and recommended to change them to <strong> so that screen
>readers read out the text with added emphasis. This has brought their
>quality and compliance scores down drastically. The client's developers
>are unhappy about this and claim that they should not be marked down as
>there is no clear guideline or fine print that mandates use of <strong>
>over <b>. Moreover, W3C has not deprecated <b> yet and it's usage is
>still permitted. <b> has been in use since ages and asking to replace
>all bold text with strong is like declaring that  use of <b> should be
>banned henceforth.
>I am planning to give my recommendation to use <strong> in headers or
>functionality names etc. if the text is bold as per  design, while it
>is still fair to allow use of <b> for other bold text. The 'appropriate
>usage' of bold or strong is finally the designer's call as there is no
>clear guideline.
>Is my recommendation correct or am I missing something? What your
>thoughts and have you come across any such debate?
>Vinil Peter, PMP
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Received on Wednesday, 8 August 2018 17:08:27 UTC

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