To <P> or not to <P>

There a great debate at our firm about the merits and correct usage of the
<P>, </P> and <BR> tags.  Perhaps someone knows what's up?

First of all, after consulting the HTML spec at it is clear that <P
ATTRIBUTE="foo"> requires a </P> tag.  (I've enclosed references from this
page below.) We all agree on that.

Next, we agree that a <P> tag between two blocks of text accomplishes the
task of inserting a blank line between paragraphs.  However, although the
Sandia spec says that <P>..text... is a minimum possible attribute, some
folks do not all agree that a plain <P> between two blocks of text is

Some folks say that when no attribute is required a simple <P> between
blocks of text, ie paragraphs, should not be used.  Rather, two (2) <BR>
tags should be used.  Other folks think that is silly and not the correct
way to use <BR> tags.  Those (other) folks think that if you insist that a
plain <P> tag is incorrect then <P>...text...</P><P>...text...</P> should
always be used (as opposed to <BR><BR>).

So, there's the great debate.  Any thoughts?

Scott Porad
Small World Software


The P element is used to denote a paragraph break, and separates two
blocks of text. Many other elements automatically imply a text
separation, such as headings, list elements, blockquotes, etc.

Minimum Attributes

All Possible Attributes
<P ALIGN=center|left|right|justify|indent WRAP=on|off NOWRAP
CLEAR=left|right|all|"..." LANG="..." DIR=ltr|rtl ID="..."
CLASS="...">characters... </P>

Elements Allowed Within...
members of group text

Allowed In Content Of...
Any element that permits members of group block

In Version 1, the <P> element was a separator and the </P> element was not
defined. RFC 1866 changed the concept to a container and introduced the
optional </P> element. The LANG and DIR attributes are introduced with the
internationalization proposal. HTML+ introduced the ALIGN attribute and is
the only proposal to mention the indent value. The internationalization
proposal includes ALIGN=center|left|right|justify Netscape 2.0 implements
ALIGN=center|left|right and MS Internet Explorer 2.0 implements
ALIGN=center|left|right|justify Version 3 does not currently include
indent as an option for ALIGN. The CLEAR attribute is proposed in Version
3 to deal with text able to float around an image defined with the IMG
element. HTML+ introduced the ID attribute to replace the NAME attribute
in the A element to establish internal hyperlink destinations. With the
expected use of ID for style sheets, this is likely to change. HTML+
proposed WRAP to turn off automatic word wrap, making it possible to leave
text as it appears in the source. Version 3 replaces the WRAP attribute
and values with the NOWRAP attribute. The P element is Level 0.


The BR element breaks for a new line, but does not produce separation of

Minimum Attributes

All Possible Attributes
<BR CLEAR=left|right|all|"..." ID="..." CLASS="...">

Elements Allowed Within...
The BR element is defined as having no content.

Allowed In Content Of...
Any element that permits members of group text

The CLEAR attribute is a Netscape 1.1 extension and was added to force
the line break to clear possible floating graphic images. The standard
tables proposal expects the presence of this attribute since it expects
text to flow around a table, if possible, but does not standardize the
attribute's existence as part of the proposal. Version 3 includes CLEAR,
and proposes the remaining attributes. The BR element is Level 0.

Received on Friday, 16 August 1996 13:10:43 UTC