Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

Mikko Rantalainen
I'm still wondering if HTML5 should define an element for less than
normal importance or emphasis.

Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Wed, 11 May 2005, fantasai wrote:
>>   # Note: The small element does not "de-emphasise" or lower the
>>   # importance of text emphasised by the em element or marked as
>>   # important with the strong element.
>>
>>   Does <small> de-emphasize the text at all? This paragraph implies
>>   that it does, except within <em> or <strong>, but it is not clear
>>   from the definition.
>
> I think it would be hard to argue that making text smaller isn't
> de-emphasising the text. I mean, the whole point of hiding legalese in
> small text is to make the reader not read it.
So <small> means less important than normal (default) importance of
plain text, if I've understood correctly when used outside <em> or
<strong>. However, it does not lower the importance/emphasis of <em> or
<strong>. I don't like this difference.

Is there a difference in the semantics of these two examples:

1) <p><small><strong>License: GFDL</strong></small></p>
and
2) <p><strong><small>License: GFDL</small></strong></p> ?

Does the <small> element mean different things when it's a child of
<strong> or <em> or any other element?

> On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Jonathan Worent wrote:
>> If this cannot be done then I would suggest as an alternative: Add 2 new
>> elements. One for indicating de-emphasis, One of indicating less
>> importance. I leave the naming of them to you.
>
> Less importance can be done just by ending the <strong> element. Side
> notes can be marked with <small>. I don't think there is a concept of
> "less than normal stress emphasis" that really makes sense to mark up.

If I have a sentence where the less important part is in the middle of
the sentence but the whole sentence is important, I would want to mark
up the whole sentence as a single element. I think that there's a
difference between

<p><strong>An important sentence <small>with less important part</small>
continues...</strong></p>

and

<p><strong>An important sentence</strong> with less important part
<strong> continues...</strong></p>

Perhaps it's just me, but I think that the latter markup represents that
there're two separate important parts in that paragraph. I think there
should be exactly one important part and one less important part.


> On Fri, 9 Feb 2007, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
>> I believe that <aside> and <small> are different from de-emphasis (that
>> would be <dem> IMHO). However, the <dem> element wouldn't be that often
>> used and it would be vital for it to be easily implemented. A new
>> element with specified semantics and a simple default CSS style would be
>> a nice choice. An example *implementation* could be a single CSS rule:
>>
>> dem { opacity: 0.8 }
>>
>> How hard it would be to implement the behavior David described above?
>> Take any existing UA as a base.
>
> Would would this element mean?
I assume you meant "what would this element mean?".

<dem> would mean "less emphasized / lower importance than the
surrounding content". I believe that the separation between less
emphasized and lowered importance is not required so only one element is
enough.

>> And why do I think that <aside> and <small> are different from <dem>?
>> Because I think <aside> (or a footnote) is something you can safely
>> ignore and is usually orthogonal to the rest of the content. <small> is
>> something you usually skip but you must be aware of the content (e.g. a
>> copyright or license boilerplate) - the key here is that the content is
>> often repeated but if you have read it *once*, then you may skip it
>> later. The <dem> would be something that you may skip without reading it
>> once but which is not orthogonal to the rest of the content and as such
>> shouldn't be considered equal to <aside>.
>>
>> Example:
>> <p>One should <em>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code>
>> in a UNIX shell <dem>because doing so would remove
>> everything in the system</dem></em>.</p>
>>
>> Here I think that the explanation is also something that should be
>> emphasized. However, the reader can safely ignore the explanation. I
>> think that <dem> shouldn't be considered to be equal strength to <em>
>> but something less. Logically it could be -0.5 emphasis.
>
> Why not:
>
>    <p>One should <strong>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code> in a UNIX
>    shell</strong> (because doing so would remove everything in the
>    system).</p>
>
> ...? That seems cleaner and just as clear.
For plain text case I agree that using the parenthesis is enough.
However, if the content is something else but just plain text (an
<object> for example) an element is required to mark up the semantics.

However, I agree that default rendering for such markup is hard to
define. Any variation in text style can easily understood as positive
emphasis and a generic rendering of lower than normal importance
<object> is really hard to define.

In the end, perhaps <small> should be used for de-emphasis of any
content other than plain text. Parenthesis can then be used for
de-emphasis of normal content.

--
Mikko


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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

Tina Holmboe

On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 11:26:35AM +0300, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:

> I'm still wondering if HTML5 should define an element for less than
> normal importance or emphasis.

  Possibly. It may be a little bit too fine-grained, but it is worth
  considering.


> So <small> means less important than normal (default) importance of
> plain text, if I've understood correctly when used outside <em> or

  No. This is a misunderstanding. The SMALL-element signify smaller
  text, visually. It has /no/ other meaning, and since the past usage
  is inconsistent, to say the least, we cannot give it any meaning.

  We /must/ stop thinking that the B-, I-, SMALL- or BIG-elements can
  be given /any/ meaning. It's not a productive way forward; only another
  step back.



> In the end, perhaps <small> should be used for de-emphasis of any
> content other than plain text. Parenthesis can then be used for
> de-emphasis of normal content.

  If we did that, then a huge amount of existing documents would suddenly
  have meaning where no meaning was meant to exist.

  It'll break stuff in a bad way. A new element for de-emphasis, yes,
  but no overload for SMALL. It's illogical and will create a mess.

--
 -  Tina Holmboe      Developer's Archive           Greytower Technologies
                   http://www.dev-archive.net      http://www.greytower.net   

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

Jukka K. Korpela

Tina Holmboe wrote:

>> So <small> means less important than normal (default) importance of
>> plain text, if I've understood correctly when used outside <em> or
>
>   No. This is a misunderstanding. The SMALL-element signify smaller
>   text, visually.

Or, to put it in other words, characters in smaller physical size.

> It has /no/ other meaning, and since the past usage
>   is inconsistent, to say the least, we cannot give it any meaning.

We know that <small> often, and probably most often, expresses
de-emphasis of some kind. But it would still be inappropriate to
redefine it with such semantics.

Existing documents may use <small> for emphasis. There is no law against
it, the existing HTML specifications don't say we can't do that (they
say remarkably little about <small>), and some cultures and habits and
styles actually use font size reduction for emphasis.

Existing documents may also use <small> to make, say, text smaller in a
context where saving space is crucial. Let's not frown up such usage too
much. Most importantly, let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

>   We /must/ stop thinking that the B-, I-, SMALL- or BIG-elements can
>   be given /any/ meaning. It's not a productive way forward; only
>   another step back.

They have the meaning of expressing features of physical presentation.
This is a true meaning, even if not very exact (how bold? really
italics, or just slanted? how small? how big?). In an ideal markup
language, such markup would exist in some form and it would only be used
in contexts where the physical presentation is essential to the content
(e.g., the document is a reproduction of a printed work or manuscript in
a marked-up format and the text uses, say, italics for some essential
purpose but it is disputable or maybe even unknown what the purpose is).

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ 


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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

Tina Holmboe

On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 12:07:53PM +0300, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:

> > It has /no/ other meaning, and since the past usage
> >   is inconsistent, to say the least, we cannot give it any meaning.
>
> We know that <small> often, and probably most often, expresses
> de-emphasis of some kind. But it would still be inappropriate to
> redefine it with such semantics.

  Actually, I'd have to disagree. The majority of legacy documents I have
  had the misfortune to read use <small> to signify small text, next
  to <font>, for no other apparent reason than to get a smaller font
  somewhere.


> Existing documents may also use <small> to make, say, text smaller in a
> context where saving space is crucial. Let's not frown up such usage too
> much. Most importantly, let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

  Indeed: let's simply accept that <small> is used to make text smaller,
  visually. It isn't, in any consistent manner, used for anything else.


> >   We /must/ stop thinking that the B-, I-, SMALL- or BIG-elements can
> >   be given /any/ meaning. It's not a productive way forward; only
> >   another step back.
>
> They have the meaning of expressing features of physical presentation.
> This is a true meaning, even if not very exact (how bold? really

  True. But not really something we should worry about for future
  languages, where it would be far better to have a <japanesename>
  tag than a <underlined> tag, even if both have meaning on some level
  or other.

  If we wish to reproduce, as you mention, a work in which we can't
  really decide what the best /structural/ element sould be, then CSS
  comes to the rescue. Such reproduction is only important in a
  visual - ie. graphical - environment, since italics cannot be
  represented in either speech or "plain" text.        

  Well. Unless we want the speech browser to actually read "This phrase
  was originally written in italics", but that is something it could
  derive from the stylesheet.

  The bottom line, still, is that we should not add /different/ meaning
  to legacy elements which have inconsistent, and primarily visual,
  usage.

--
 -  Tina Holmboe      Developer's Archive           Greytower Technologies
                   http://www.dev-archive.net      http://www.greytower.net   

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Leif Halvard Silli-2

Tina Holmboe 08-04-15 11.20:   ­  

> On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 12:07:53PM +0300, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
>
> > > It has /no/ other meaning, and since the past usage
> > >   is inconsistent, to say the least, we cannot give it any meaning.
> >
> > We know that <small> often, and probably most often, expresses
> > de-emphasis of some kind. But it would still be inappropriate to
> > redefine it with such semantics.
>
>   Actually, I'd have to disagree. The majority of legacy documents I have
>   had the misfortune to read use <small> to signify small text, next
>   to <font>, for no other apparent reason than to get a smaller font
>   somewhere.
>  

The draft currently says that <small> "represents small print". And it
is also stated that it doesn't interact with emphasizing elements to
de-emphasize anything.

Saying it this way, the draft tries to create some order in when it can
rightfully be used. It should thus work to make us see less use of
<small> in all kinds of wild contexts. (The spec is writting in the
belief that it will have som effect.)

Small print is only small if it is smaller than the context. Small print
is also often formally very important.


<small>(Hm, it strikes me that that <small> has some likeness to
<strike>, which I have uttered some words in defence of. Both are good
candidates for either being semantisized or being removed - or simply
being defined as variants of <span>.)</small>

> > Existing documents may also use <small> to make, say, text smaller in a
> > context where saving space is crucial.

I think saving space is crucial in "small print texts": It is formallly
important but it should be said fast and without stealing anything from
"the selling points". Beside, just as in my <small> note above, the
writer might place it in small print, just to have said it, though he
hope it shall not steal attention. But in the end, it serves as a
distraction, which people prefer to comment instad of the "real" message.

>  Let's not frown up such usage too
> > much. Most importantly, let's not pretend it doesn't exist.
>
>   Indeed: let's simply accept that <small> is used to make text smaller,
>   visually. It isn't, in any consistent manner, used for anything else.
>  

So, look how it is used in the wild and define it like that?

I would at any rate say that the current definition doesn't differ very
much from how it is now. Jukka said that surprisingly little is said
about SMALL in HTML 4. HTML 5 has 2 sentences plus some examples.

All in all I find it for the most part OK.
--
leif halvard silli



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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Jukka K. Korpela

Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

> The draft currently says that <small> "represents small print".

That's just confusing. The expression "small print" is often used
figuratively to mean 'less important' _or_ 'less noticeable'. If you
don't mean either of them, don't use the phrase. Just say that <small>
indicates that the textual content be presented in a small font size.

That would be vague too, though in the same manner as the current spec.

A better formulation would be "be presented in a font size smaller than
that of the enclosing element".

This would be consistent with current browser practice, which many
existing pages rely on. Authoring style like

<h1>Main heading<br> <small>Subheading</small><h1>

is just fine. Don't break it. Tell any special browsers to implement the
way other browsers do. Don't tell them to treat <small> as "small
print".

It might be appropriate to add, as an informal note, that <small> is
comparable to <font size="-1"> and to the CSS expression font-size:
smaller and these are typically implemented as a font size reduction by
the same amount. However, this is not guaranteed. (Or should it be?)
Moreover, browsers may treat <small> as different from other font size
settings in the sense that <small> takes effect even when told to ignore
font size settings on web pages. (That's what IE does, anyway.)

> I would at any rate say that the current definition doesn't differ
> very much from how it is now.

I'm afraid it does, and not in a positive direction.

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ 


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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis (was: several messages about <i> and many related subjects)

Jukka K. Korpela
In reply to this post by Tina Holmboe

Tina Holmboe wrote:

>   If we wish to reproduce, as you mention, a work in which we can't
>   really decide what the best /structural/ element sould be, then CSS
>   comes to the rescue.

CSS is for optional presentational suggestions. When the issue is
presentation itself, it should no be a matter of suggestion. We should
be able to say, for example, "here's a word in italics, I don't know
why, but it is - or might be - essential that it is in italics". The
markup <i>foo</i> says this perfectly. The fact that in 999 times out of
1000 (would you believe 950 out of 1000?) italics is either purely
decorative or meant to express something definitely structural does not
change this.

One might conclude that such situations are so _rare_ that they don't
deserve markup elements in a language like HTML. But they _are_ in HTML,
so why take them away? (In an ideal markup language, we would perhaps
have just <font> with various attributes, instead of several font-level
elements.)

>   Such reproduction is only important in a
>   visual - ie. graphical - environment, since italics cannot be
>   represented in either speech or "plain" text.

It cannot be presented as such, but it can be described, e.g. using
words or special expressions, like /foo/ or <italics> foo <end of
italics> - or even <i>foo</i>!

>   Well. Unless we want the speech browser to actually read "This
>   phrase was originally written in italics", but that is something it
>   could derive from the stylesheet.

Why would it use such a stylesheet and not an aural stylesheet?

But it could read <i>foo</i> as "italics foo". Or maybe "| start italics
| foo | end italics |" where "|" indicates a short pause; this would
work better for <i> elements with many words inside them.

Basically, the difference between adequate and inadequate use of <i>
would be that for the adequate use, you would happily, even eagerly
accept such secondary ways of expressing italics, whereas for the
inadequate use, that would be foolish.

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ 


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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

David Woolley (E.L)
In reply to this post by Mikko Rantalainen

Mikko Rantalainen wrote:

>
> In the end, perhaps <small> should be used for de-emphasis of any
> content other than plain text. Parenthesis can then be used for
> de-emphasis of normal content.

Small text is used for positive emphasis in simplified Chinese printing.
>

My primary mailing list is www-html, others may fail, or be delayed by
moderation.


--
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Ian Hickson
In reply to this post by Jukka K. Korpela


On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:

>
> I'm still wondering if HTML5 should define an element for less than
> normal importance or emphasis.
>
> Ian Hickson wrote:
> > On Wed, 11 May 2005, fantasai wrote:
> >>   # Note: The small element does not "de-emphasise" or lower the
> >>   # importance of text emphasised by the em element or marked as
> >>   # important with the strong element.
> >>
> >>   Does <small> de-emphasize the text at all? This paragraph implies
> >>   that it does, except within <em> or <strong>, but it is not clear
> >>   from the definition.
> >
> > I think it would be hard to argue that making text smaller isn't
> > de-emphasising the text. I mean, the whole point of hiding legalese in
> > small text is to make the reader not read it.
>
> So <small> means less important than normal (default) importance of
> plain text, if I've understood correctly when used outside <em> or
> <strong>. However, it does not lower the importance/emphasis of <em> or
> <strong>. I don't like this difference.

The <small> element in HTML5 as currently defined doesn't remove stress
emphasis (<em>) or remove importance (<strong>), or indicate that the text
has no stress emphasis or importance. It only indicates that its contents
are "small print", which may well be important, but is something the
author is kind of "hiding in plain sight".


> Is there a difference in the semantics of these two examples:
>
> 1) <p><small><strong>License: GFDL</strong></small></p>
> and
> 2) <p><strong><small>License: GFDL</small></strong></p> ?

Not really.


> Does the <small> element mean different things when it's a child of
> <strong> or <em> or any other element?

No.


> > On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Jonathan Worent wrote:
> >> If this cannot be done then I would suggest as an alternative: Add 2 new
> >> elements. One for indicating de-emphasis, One of indicating less
> >> importance. I leave the naming of them to you.
> >
> > Less importance can be done just by ending the <strong> element. Side
> > notes can be marked with <small>. I don't think there is a concept of
> > "less than normal stress emphasis" that really makes sense to mark up.
>
> If I have a sentence where the less important part is in the middle of
> the sentence but the whole sentence is important, I would want to mark
> up the whole sentence as a single element. I think that there's a
> difference between
>
> <p><strong>An important sentence <small>with less important part</small>
> continues...</strong></p>
>
> and
>
> <p><strong>An important sentence</strong> with less important part
> <strong> continues...</strong></p>

Well, the first is saying that it's all important but part of it is being
said quickly so as to not draw attention to it despite its importance,
whereas the second is saying that the first and last part are important.


> Perhaps it's just me, but I think that the latter markup represents that
> there're two separate important parts in that paragraph. I think there
> should be exactly one important part and one less important part.

There _are_ two important parts. For example:

   <p><strong>Do not press the red button</strong> if the light is
   showing, as <strong>it will delete all your data!</strong></p>


> > On Fri, 9 Feb 2007, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
> >> I believe that <aside> and <small> are different from de-emphasis (that
> >> would be <dem> IMHO). However, the <dem> element wouldn't be that often
> >> used and it would be vital for it to be easily implemented. A new
> >> element with specified semantics and a simple default CSS style would be
> >> a nice choice. An example *implementation* could be a single CSS rule:
> >>
> >> dem { opacity: 0.8 }
> >>
> >> How hard it would be to implement the behavior David described above?
> >> Take any existing UA as a base.
> >
> > What would this element mean?
>
> <dem> would mean "less emphasized / lower importance than the
> surrounding content". I believe that the separation between less
> emphasized and lowered importance is not required so only one element is
> enough.

I don't understand what this means in practice. I don't recall ever
reading a magazine article or a newspaper or a book or seeing text on a TV
or anything that had the equivalent of this.


> >> Example:
> >> <p>One should <em>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code>
> >> in a UNIX shell <dem>because doing so would remove
> >> everything in the system</dem></em>.</p>
> >
> > Why not:
> >
> >    <p>One should <strong>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code> in a UNIX
> >    shell</strong> (because doing so would remove everything in the
> >    system).</p>
>
> For plain text case I agree that using the parenthesis is enough.
> However, if the content is something else but just plain text (an
> <object> for example) an element is required to mark up the semantics.

This seems highly theoretical. Do you have a "real world" example in the
wild showing this? (Ideally not something written by one of us.)


> However, I agree that default rendering for such markup is hard to
> define. Any variation in text style can easily understood as positive
> emphasis and a generic rendering of lower than normal importance
> <object> is really hard to define.

Exactly.


> In the end, perhaps <small> should be used for de-emphasis of any
> content other than plain text. Parenthesis can then be used for
> de-emphasis of normal content.

<small> is for legalese or small print, not for anything to do with
stress emphasis or importance.


On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Tina Holmboe wrote:
> >
> > So <small> means less important than normal (default) importance of
> > plain text, if I've understood correctly when used outside <em> or
>
> No. This is a misunderstanding. The SMALL-element signify smaller text,
> visually. It has /no/ other meaning, and since the past usage is
> inconsistent, to say the least, we cannot give it any meaning.

This is incorrect, at least for HTML5.


> We /must/ stop thinking that the B-, I-, SMALL- or BIG-elements can be
> given /any/ meaning. It's not a productive way forward; only another
> step back.

I disagree. People already use <small>, <b>, and <i> in media-independent
ways, so it makes sense to "pave the cowpath" and spec it.


> If we did that, then a huge amount of existing documents would suddenly
> have meaning where no meaning was meant to exist.

These documents already have meaning, it's meaning we (as humans) give it
even though the HTML4 spec doesn't justify it. I see nothing wrong with
codifying this meaning.


> It'll break stuff in a bad way.

Can you give an example of such bad breakage?


On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
>
> Existing documents may also use <small> to make, say, text smaller in a
> context where saving space is crucial. Let's not frown up such usage too
> much. Most importantly, let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

Tags like <em> are misused a lot, I don't really see a problem with
changing the meaning of <b> from nothing to something where some usages
are now "wrong". After all, the alternative (if we want to continue
removing media-dependent features) is to remove the element altogether,
and that makes _all_ uses "wrong". :-)


On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
>
> The expression "small print" is often used figuratively to mean 'less
> important' _or_ 'less noticeable'. If you don't mean either of them,
> don't use the phrase.

It seems to have a pretty well defined meaning:

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_print


> Just say that <small> indicates that the textual content be presented in
> a small font size.

That's a media-specific meaning, which makes it pointless given our goal
of having a media-independent language.


> <h1>Main heading<br> <small>Subheading</small><h1>
>
> is just fine. Don't break it. Tell any special browsers to implement the
> way other browsers do. Don't tell them to treat <small> as "small
> print".

What's going to "break" given the new definition? It's not like we're
asking for the default rendering to change.

--
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

David Woolley (E.L)

Ian Hickson wrote:

>
> I disagree. People already use <small>, <b>, and <i> in media-independent
> ways, so it makes sense to "pave the cowpath" and spec it.
>

These are culture specific, at least for smaller text, and probably for
italics.  Simplified Chinese books use smaller print to indicate
positive emphasis of material that the author wants to be read, even if
in Western usage it means text that the author would rather not have
included but the lawyers say must be sufficiently present that they can
pretend that the reader will always read it.

--
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Jim Jewett
In reply to this post by Ian Hickson

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 5:21 PM, Ian Hickson <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:

>> I'm still wondering if HTML5 should define an element for less than
>> normal importance or emphasis.

>> > On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Jonathan Worent wrote:
>> If I have a sentence where the less important part is in the middle of
>> the sentence but the whole sentence is important, I would want to mark
>> up the whole sentence as a single element.

Agreed, but if the importance is decreased in the middle, than I think
the (greatest) importance probably attaches to separate spans smaller
than the full sentence.

[In response to requests for an example]

>> > On Fri, 9 Feb 2007, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:

>> >> Example:
>> >>    <p>One should <em>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code>
>> >>    in a UNIX shell <dem>because doing so would remove
>> >>    everything in the system</dem></em>.</p>
>> >
>> > Why not:
>> >
>> >    <p>One should <strong>never execute <code>rm -rf /</code> in a UNIX
>> >    shell</strong> (because doing so would remove everything in the
>> >    system).</p>

>> For plain text case I agree that using the parenthesis is enough.
>> However, if the content is something else but just plain text (an
>> <object> for example) an element is required to mark up the semantics.

> This seems highly theoretical. Do you have a "real world" example in the
> wild showing this? (Ideally not something written by one of us.)

I would go farther and say that if you do want to decrease emphasis,
and parentheses are not sufficient, then you probably want to mark the
de-emphasized part in some other way as well.  The most likely ways
seem to be as <details>, as an <aside>, or whatever the convention for
<footnote> ends up being.

-jJ

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Ian Hickson
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)

On Wed, 17 Dec 2008, David Woolley wrote:
>
> These are culture specific, at least for smaller text, and probably for
> italics.  Simplified Chinese books use smaller print to indicate
> positive emphasis of material that the author wants to be read, even if
> in Western usage it means text that the author would rather not have
> included but the lawyers say must be sufficiently present that they can
> pretend that the reader will always read it.

Do you have an example of an HTML page showing this?

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Jim Jewett
In reply to this post by David Woolley (E.L)

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 5:34 PM, David Woolley
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Ian Hickson wrote:

>> I disagree. People already use <small>, <b>, and <i> in media-independent
>> ways, so it makes sense to "pave the cowpath" and spec it.

> These are culture specific, at least for smaller text, and probably for
> italics.  Simplified Chinese books use smaller print to indicate positive
> emphasis of material that the author wants to be read, even if in Western
> usage it means text that the author would rather not have included but the
> lawyers say must be sufficiently present that they can pretend that the
> reader will always read it.

In other words, Chinese web pages may be mis-using <small> in a
presentational manner the same way that English pages mis-use <b> or
<font>.

Is this common enough (and sufficiently different from the
"small-print is technically supposed to be important" case) that pages
would break because of the re-definition?

-jJ

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Leif Halvard Silli-2
In reply to this post by Jim Jewett

Jim Jewett 2008-12-17 23.47:

> On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 5:21 PM, Ian Hickson <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
>
>>> I'm still wondering if HTML5 should define an element for less than
>>> normal importance or emphasis.
>
>>>> On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Jonathan Worent wrote:
>>> If I have a sentence where the less important part is in the middle of
>>> the sentence but the whole sentence is important, I would want to mark
>>> up the whole sentence as a single element.
>
> Agreed, but if the importance is decreased in the middle, than I think
> the (greatest) importance probably attaches to separate spans smaller
> than the full sentence.

To  de-emphasize something is to go from emphasizing something to
speak normal and neutral about it. It does not mean to lower the
importance to below average ... Eventually, I think we need a
<neutral> element, rather than a <deemph> elment.

Today, we must do this:

        <p>You are so <em>mean</em> and, in fact,
           very <em>dumb</em>, also.</p>

But with a <neutral> element, we could mark the phrase more
naturally, like this:

        <p>You are so <em>mean <neutral>and, in fact,
           very</neutral> dumb</em>, also.</p>

We cannot use <span> for this, as <span> is without semantics ...
Hence it doesn't whetehr emphasize or "neutralize" anything.

With regard to what Ian mention about what he had or hadn't  seen
in magazines: We have not seen <strong> or <em> in magazines,
either. Nor have we seen <code> either, for that matter. But we
have, in certain Word processors seen the "normal" button. I have
in fact missed such a button in HTML now and then. And we have
seen bold, italic etc. (See below.)

[...]
> I would go farther and say that if you do want to decrease emphasis,
> and parentheses are not sufficient, then you probably want to mark the
> de-emphasized part in some other way as well.  The most likely ways
> seem to be as <details>, as an <aside>, or whatever the convention for
> <footnote> ends up being.

Good thoughts. Such an element could have been called <insert>,
for insteance.

        <p>He, <insert>as he walked home that day</insert>,
        fell in deep thoughts over the whole mark-up idea.</p>

<insert> would be a inline level sidenote. Whether people would
want to style inserts differently from the context, would probably
vary.  But don't we need more element for simply "normal" text? (I
would say that this very different from footnotes, though.) (Btw,
an <insert> and an <neutral> would not be quite the same thing, I
think.)

Tina Holmboe once reminded us to, when it comes to <strong> and
<em>, think about how we would speak the text. I think she
primarely meant that we should use <em> because it can be heard by
the screen reader user. And one important reason for having such a
thing as <insert>, would be to be able to mark a tone shift in the
text. Most often it cannot seen by (unless when it coincide with
punctuation - of course) by seing, but it could be useful, I guss
for people listening to the text.

Btw, related side note: Sometimes I have seen author tools which
makes "strong" and "em" more prominent in the user interface of
their authorware than "b" and "i". But I think that this is
somewhat wrong. I think that authors, when they write, they think
about cursive, italics, bold, neutral etc. The challenge is not to
  unlearn to think think about italics, but rather to get authors
to think "why do I want italic text".

Therefore, if I wrote an author tool, I would take the opposite
approach. I would e.g. have one menu for italics, and under that
menu, I give access to all the semantic element which are
associated with italics. On top I would perhaps list <em>. At the
bottom I would list <i>. In the middle I would list <dfn> and
other elments. And similar for bold. I would also have one menu
for "normal text", where I would place <span> at the bottom, and
perhaps <insert> at top .. Well, I don't have all the details. :-)

Leif Halvard Silli



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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Patrick H. Lauke

Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

> Today, we must do this:
>
>     <p>You are so <em>mean</em> and, in fact,
>        very <em>dumb</em>, also.</p>
>
> But with a <neutral> element, we could mark the phrase more naturally,
> like this:
>
>     <p>You are so <em>mean <neutral>and, in fact,
>        very</neutral> dumb</em>, also.</p>
>

Perhaps it's just me, but the <em>first</em> code example feels more
natural to <em>me</em>.

P
--
Patrick H. Lauke
______________________________________________________________
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
http://redux.deviantart.com
______________________________________________________________
Co-lead, Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force
http://webstandards.org/
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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Ian Hickson
In reply to this post by Leif Halvard Silli-2

On Thu, 18 Dec 2008, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

>
> Today, we must do this:
>
> <p>You are so <em>mean</em> and, in fact,
>   very <em>dumb</em>, also.</p>
>
> But with a <neutral> element, we could mark the phrase more naturally,
> like this:
>
> <p>You are so <em>mean <neutral>and, in fact,
>   very</neutral> dumb</em>, also.</p>

I definitely don't think the second of the above is more natural. The
former seems orders of magnitude simpler and better. Consider what it
would mean to change the sentence, e.g. by removing the stress on "mean".


> With regard to what Ian mention about what he had or hadn't  seen in
> magazines: We have not seen <strong> or <em> in magazines, either.

I have seen the equivalent of <strong> on cleaning liquid warning labels.
I have seen the equivalent of <em> in many books.


> Nor have we seen <code> either, for that matter.

The equivalent of <code> is seen all over the technology press.


> But we have, in certain Word processors seen the "normal" button. I have
> in fact missed such a button in HTML now and then. And we have seen
> bold, italic etc. (See below.)

I don't understand why </em>...<em> is not good enough as a way to
neutralise emphasis.


> Good thoughts. Such an element could have been called <insert>, for
> insteance.
>
> <p>He, <insert>as he walked home that day</insert>,
> fell in deep thoughts over the whole mark-up idea.</p>

Why does this need markup at all? There's no typographical or aural effect
involved here as far as I can tell.

We're not doing semantics for the sake of semantics, the point of
semantics is to be able to have appropriate media- an device- independent
styling and to be able to perform rudimentry machine-processing.

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Re: less than normal importance/emphasis

Info-1614

With regards to <insert> or <aside> I agree with Ian. It seems that we
are trying to replace punctuation with markup which is dangerous, since
a lot of people generally do not know how to use punctuation correctly
and I would imagine that punctuation is used (or not used) in different
ways in different languages around the world. I think it would be
dangerous to assume that the way things are done in English are mirrored
in other languages.

With regards to "lowering importance" via a <deemph> or similar tag.
Anything that needs neutral emphasis should simply not be marked up.
Cascading <deemphs> inside <em>s or other elements could lead to very
confusing semantics.

I don't really understand where there would be a situation where you
would want to use this. If something is to be de-emphasised in the
middle of some normal text, then it is either not relevant to the
content as a whole or should be placed in a footnote, sidenote or
similar. I think this is a matter of how the content is generated and
markup should not bend to make up rules for unrelated or poorly
constructed content.

Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Thu, 18 Dec 2008, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
>  
>> Today, we must do this:
>>
>> <p>You are so <em>mean</em> and, in fact,
>>   very <em>dumb</em>, also.</p>
>>
>> But with a <neutral> element, we could mark the phrase more naturally,
>> like this:
>>
>> <p>You are so <em>mean <neutral>and, in fact,
>>   very</neutral> dumb</em>, also.</p>
>>    
>
> I definitely don't think the second of the above is more natural. The
> former seems orders of magnitude simpler and better. Consider what it
> would mean to change the sentence, e.g. by removing the stress on "mean".
>
>
>  
>> With regard to what Ian mention about what he had or hadn't  seen in
>> magazines: We have not seen <strong> or <em> in magazines, either.
>>    
>
> I have seen the equivalent of <strong> on cleaning liquid warning labels.
> I have seen the equivalent of <em> in many books.
>
>
>  
>> Nor have we seen <code> either, for that matter.
>>    
>
> The equivalent of <code> is seen all over the technology press.
>
>
>  
>> But we have, in certain Word processors seen the "normal" button. I have
>> in fact missed such a button in HTML now and then. And we have seen
>> bold, italic etc. (See below.)
>>    
>
> I don't understand why </em>...<em> is not good enough as a way to
> neutralise emphasis.
>
>
>  
>> Good thoughts. Such an element could have been called <insert>, for
>> insteance.
>>
>> <p>He, <insert>as he walked home that day</insert>,
>> fell in deep thoughts over the whole mark-up idea.</p>
>>    
>
> Why does this need markup at all? There's no typographical or aural effect
> involved here as far as I can tell.
>
> We're not doing semantics for the sake of semantics, the point of
> semantics is to be able to have appropriate media- an device- independent
> styling and to be able to perform rudimentry machine-processing.
>
>