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Physical markup concept snag

From: j proctor <jproctor@oit.umass.edu>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 16:14:26 -0500 (EST)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-id: <Pine.BSF.4.10.10001191540480.3326-100000@maat.oit.umass.edu>

In the HTML 4.01 spec, the logical markup tags (EM, STRONG, etc.) are
defined fairly clearly:  "Phrase elements add structural information to
text fragments. ... EM and STRONG are used to indicate emphasis."

Okay, I got that.  When I want to emphasize text, use EM or STRONG.

But there are also those lingering physical markup tags (B, I, etc.),
which "specify font information. Although they are not all deprecated,
their use is discouraged in favor of style sheets."

Now I'm trying to write some discussion of why, for instance, STRONG is
really preferable to B, in the context of preparation for a fairly strict
internal style guide.  I can think of all sorts of good reasons that a
user agent might get something useful out of logical STRONG that just
can't be assumed from physical B, such as modulating the speech of a
reader for the blind, but I can't think of any counterexamples.

The closest I've come so far is a bus schedule, where bold text is often
used (in the U.S., anyway) to distinguish morning from afternoon times,
rather than repeat AM and PM all over the place.  But that, to me, is a
very clear example of an application for style sheets.  Sure, '<B>' is
much shorter and easier to type than '<SPAN class="time-pm">', but in
light of the nudge towards CSS, it certainly doesn't seem more *correct*.

So what does it mean to have bold text simply for bold's sake, and not
because the author intends it to be strongly emphasized?  Where is it
more appropriate for an author to use B?  Or is B just a leftover that's
too common to retire, and authors can and should always avoid it to be
compliant with the spirit of 4.01 Strict?

Received on Wednesday, 19 January 2000 15:52:05 UTC

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