W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > May 2014

Re: [css-inline] Summary of drop-caps/initial-letters discussion

From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 20 May 2014 06:06:44 -0400
Message-ID: <1400580404.8600.29.camel@slave.barefootcomputing.com>
To: James Clark <jjc@jclark.com>
Cc: Dave Cramer <dauwhe@gmail.com>, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
On Tue, 2014-05-20 at 15:34 +0700, James Clark wrote:
> I agree that's the right behaviour for the Latin script. But what about
> other scripts? It seems to me the real challenge in defining drop-caps for
> CSS is in handling non-Latin scripts.

Main issues seem to be

1. identifying which text to make large - e.g. Hebrew and Arabic texts
sometimes use "drop words", suggesting use of a :first-word selector, as
Dave mentioned.

Hindi uses a syllable, but rather than :first-syllable :) it might be OK
to use an explicit span element for now and improve selections later.

The Arabic examples I linked to from my blog have both first letter and
first word.

2. identifying the "base character" to be sized - and then allowing room
for diacritical marks / accents / ornamentation

3. alignment - if the body text is in Arabic or Hindi, there isn't a
Greek/Latin-style baseline. On the other hand, that also means that
alignment can be less precise, because the human eye detects
misalignment of patterned elements along edges, not misalignment of
invisible character cells :-) so the examples I've seen e.g. the Arabic
examples pointed to on my blog, are nominal-baseline to
nominal-baseline. Devanagari does not seem to use the hanging baseline
for alignment, probably because a thick line does not connect well to a
thin one.

4. accessibility - making sure the markup doesn't confuse text readers,
search engines, etc; I think this is not likely to be a problem but some
methods used today don't work too well (e.g. tables).

5. Mixed language/script situations. This will simply need exploration
with whatever approach is taken. Using a vertical-script Japanese
character as a drop initial in Italian text is unlikely to work well.

For sure more research is needed (and is being actively done).

Drop Initials/Words seem to be relatively new to Arabic, and are copying
Western practice. So the usage is evolving fast. It might be that
whatever CSS decides will end up influencing what is done, both for
Arabic and for at least some other scripts. So we should define what is
known, and enable authors to get it right more easily than getting it
wrong, and we should leave flexibility for writing systems where the
rules aren't yet fixed, and we should try and learn more about others.

Whatever is drafted will get lots of review, though - it's early yet.

Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Ankh: irc.sorcery.net irc.gnome.org freenode/#xml
Received on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 10:06:48 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 22:51:27 UTC