Re: note element in XHTML 2.0

On Mon, 20 Mar 2006 22:24:08 +0100, Bruce D'Arcus <>  
> I've not followed the development of XHTML 2.0 much, but looking at the  
> spec there is one missing semantic structure I think would be quite  
> valuable: note.
> This would fill the role of a footnote or endnote structure common in  
> print-oriented formats. Indeed, people are already adopting workarounds  
> to implement something like this with XHTML 1.0 and CSS, but it's hardly  
> ideal. I'd rather be able to just do <note>Some note.</note> inline and  
> style it with CSS, a la lists.

Actually, it's there, but you didn't spot it.

Some background: the HTML WG get asked for an enormous number of new  
elements, and the interesting thing is that they are almost all about  
semantics rather than structure. For instance for numbers, lengths,  
people, books, places, events, we have even been asked for an element to  
denote irony. Our problem was deciding how to draw the line, to decide  
which semantics were general enough to be added, and which not.

We reasoned that if people need new semantics, then there really ought to  
be an extensible method, and it should be relatable to what is happening  
in the semantic web, so that the semantics can be *real* semantics (and  
not just vaguely suggested by an element name).

Anyway, we realised that a request from the WAI accessibility groups to  
add a role attribute would solve the issue. 'Role' allows you to classify  
an element in some (semantic) way. For accessibility it is important to  
know which is the main content, whether a section is just about navigation  
and so on, but once you have a method of layering semantics, you can use  
it for more purposes.

So we have added a number of 'standard' values for role, which includes  
'note', but explicitely allow authors to use values from other  

This means that any element can now play the role of a note:

	<p role="note">...

but also

	<span role="note">...

or even <table>. And as you point out, you can use CSS to style it as  

The place it is defined is at:

Best wishes,

Steven Pemberton

Received on Tuesday, 21 March 2006 16:57:21 UTC