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My own encounter with <b> vs. <strong>

In designing some of my pages (see
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html for an example), I
created a lot of markup to mimic the book upon which the pages are
based. My thinking at the time was that even if one turned off styles
one should see the words "Narration," "Background," or "Closer
Inspection" in a boldface font, or at least as distinct from the rest
of the paragraph. "It's an indication of what sort of paragraph it
is," I thought, "so it's really semantic and not just presentational.
And since it's an important keyword for the paragraph, that makes it
<strong>."

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about the
meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this logic. I
recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of this, and now I
doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?

David
Stardate 6493.2
Jun 29 '06 #1
  • viewed: 1767
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9 Replies
David Trimboli <da***@trimboli.name> wrote:
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html
[...]
What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in which the first
word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the topic of the rest
of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational after all?


It looks like a heading to me.
--
Darin McGrew, mc****@stanfordalumni.org, http://www.rahul.net/mcgrew/
Web Design Group, da***@htmlhelp.com, http://www.HTMLHelp.com/

"Adventure is nothing but a romantic name for trouble." - Louis L'Amour
Jun 29 '06 #2
Els
David Trimboli wrote:
What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?


I'd say it's a heading. A run-in heading I think it's called.

--
Els http://locusmeus.com/
accessible web design: http://locusoptimus.com/
Jun 29 '06 #3
David Trimboli wrote:
In designing some of my pages (see
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html for an example), I
created a lot of markup to mimic the book upon which the pages are
based. My thinking at the time was that even if one turned off styles
one should see the words "Narration," "Background," or "Closer
Inspection" in a boldface font, or at least as distinct from the rest
of the paragraph. "It's an indication of what sort of paragraph it
is," I thought, "so it's really semantic and not just presentational.
And since it's an important keyword for the paragraph, that makes it
<strong>."

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about the
meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this logic. I
recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of this, and now I
doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?


Semantically, it's a lead-in to the paragraph. Either it's a heading or
its a separate thing you might tag as <p class="leadIn"> (lacking the
ability in HTML to have <leadIn>). Either way, it isn't semantically
"bold thing". You could just as well set them in italics or small caps,
or place them over the paragraph in question or float them to the left.
Jun 29 '06 #4
"Harlan Messinger" <hm*******************@comcast.net> wrote in
message news:4g*************@individual.net...
David Trimboli wrote:
In designing some of my pages (see
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html for an example), I
created a lot of markup to mimic the book upon which the pages are
based. My thinking at the time was that even if one turned off
styles one should see the words "Narration," "Background," or
"Closer Inspection" in a boldface font, or at least as distinct
from the rest of the paragraph. "It's an indication of what sort of
paragraph it is," I thought, "so it's really semantic and not just
presentational. And since it's an important keyword for the
paragraph, that makes it <strong>."

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about
the meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this
logic. I recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of
this, and now I doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a
printed paragraph in which the first word or phrase is followed by
a full stop, and is the topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it
really just presentational after all?


Semantically, it's a lead-in to the paragraph. Either it's a heading
or its a separate thing you might tag as <p class="leadIn"> (lacking
the ability in HTML to have <leadIn>). Either way, it isn't
semantically "bold thing". You could just as well set them in
italics or small caps, or place them over the paragraph in question
or float them to the left.


I was afraid of that. Okay, let's see...

On the pages in question, the "Narration," "Background," and "Closer
Inspection" do not briefly describe the topic of the section they
introduce (c.f.
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/....html#edef-H1). Instead,
they describe the type of paragraph they're in. So, a paragraph
beginning with "Narration:" isn't about narration, it's meant to be
read aloud. The words, then, aren't headings.

I guess there really isn't a decent markup for this. It should
probably end up as <span class="para-type">Narration:</span>, but I'm
not sure this is worth the effort. Maybe I should just leave 'em as
<b> and admit that it's presentational markup.

David
Stardate 6494.0
Jun 29 '06 #5

David Trimboli wrote:
In designing some of my pages (see
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html for an example), I
created a lot of markup to mimic the book upon which the pages are
based. My thinking at the time was that even if one turned off styles
one should see the words "Narration," "Background," or "Closer
Inspection" in a boldface font, or at least as distinct from the rest
of the paragraph. "It's an indication of what sort of paragraph it
is," I thought, "so it's really semantic and not just presentational.
And since it's an important keyword for the paragraph, that makes it
<strong>."

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about the
meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this logic. I
recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of this, and now I
doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?

David
Stardate 6493.2


Dear sir,
Just FYI,
Most people would use CSS at this point in order to get the exact
format that they want, although I find CSS somewhat ridiculous to
comprehend. I guess I would recommend using CSS on these descriptional
headings. The use of <b> or <strong> or <em> normally is not very
accurate in what you want as your presentation, as they are static
elements, not variable like CSS.

I have the honor to remain your most humble and Ob't Sv't in our war
against the King.

--
Patrick Reilly
1st Coy.
Colonel Seth Warner's Regiment

Jun 30 '06 #6
David Trimboli wrote:
"Harlan Messinger" <hm*******************@comcast.net> wrote in
message news:4g*************@individual.net...
David Trimboli wrote:
In designing some of my pages (see
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html for an example), I
created a lot of markup to mimic the book upon which the pages are
based. My thinking at the time was that even if one turned off
styles one should see the words "Narration," "Background," or
"Closer Inspection" in a boldface font, or at least as distinct
from the rest of the paragraph. "It's an indication of what sort of
paragraph it is," I thought, "so it's really semantic and not just
presentational. And since it's an important keyword for the
paragraph, that makes it <strong>."

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about
the meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this
logic. I recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of
this, and now I doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a
printed paragraph in which the first word or phrase is followed by
a full stop, and is the topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it
really just presentational after all?

Semantically, it's a lead-in to the paragraph. Either it's a heading
or its a separate thing you might tag as <p class="leadIn"> (lacking
the ability in HTML to have <leadIn>). Either way, it isn't
semantically "bold thing". You could just as well set them in
italics or small caps, or place them over the paragraph in question
or float them to the left.


I was afraid of that. Okay, let's see...

On the pages in question, the "Narration," "Background," and "Closer
Inspection" do not briefly describe the topic of the section they
introduce (c.f.
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/....html#edef-H1). Instead,
they describe the type of paragraph they're in. So, a paragraph
beginning with "Narration:" isn't about narration, it's meant to be
read aloud. The words, then, aren't headings.


The meaning "heading" isn't limited to "identification of the thing the
following text is *about*". If I have a page that looks as follows:

PREFACE
This is a story I heard last summer ....

THE STORY
About ten years ago ....

EPILOGUE
When the story ended, it was 2002. As of this writing, in 2006, ...

The part labeled "PREFACE" isn't *about* a preface, and the part labeled
"EPILOGUE" isn't *about* an epilogue. But those labels are certainly
headings.

In your content, a paragraph marked "Narration" could perfectly well be
styled as an indented block, with a light pink background, and the word
Narration in a rectangle with a light blue background above the text and
overlapping the border of the box containing the text of the narration.
Running it into the paragraph was a style choice. No one seeing it would
say, "Hey, that's not a heading. This looks really weird." On the
contrary, if that's they way you had found it in the original, I bet you
wouldn't have been as likely to question whether it was a heading! :-)
The choice of presentation doesn't alter the answer to the question of
whether it's a heading or not, but it can make it more or less apparent,
or remove some confusion.

Jun 30 '06 #7
David Trimboli wrote:

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about the
meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this logic. I
recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of this, and now I
doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?

David
Stardate 6493.2


I think <strong> and <em> are perfectly acceptable in this case. IMHO,
you're over-thinking the whole semantics vs. presentation thing.

<twocents>
HTML is part semantics, yes, but it it is a presentation layer in and of
itself. CSS goes along with it, but if you want a completely
presentation-free markup you should ditch HTML and move to XML - HTML
has inherent presentational properties. Some of those properties can be
overridden by CSS, but they are still part of the HTML specification.

How is presentation-free markup going to look on a CSS-free browser? If
you're using nothing but <div>s and <span>s, the user will not be able
to determine what's important and what's not, because everything will
look the same. That's why you use <strong> or <em> - you're telling the
browser to STRONGly present or EMphasize the text in question, whether
it reads the stylesheet or not.
</twocents>

Jeremy
Jun 30 '06 #8
Jeremy wrote:
David Trimboli wrote:

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about the
meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this logic. I
recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of this, and now I
doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?

David
Stardate 6493.2


I think <strong> and <em> are perfectly acceptable in this case. IMHO,
you're over-thinking the whole semantics vs. presentation thing.

<twocents>
HTML is part semantics, yes, but it it is a presentation layer in and of
itself. CSS goes along with it, but if you want a completely
presentation-free markup you should ditch HTML and move to XML - HTML
has inherent presentational properties. Some of those properties can be
overridden by CSS, but they are still part of the HTML specification.

How is presentation-free markup going to look on a CSS-free browser? If
you're using nothing but <div>s and <span>s, the user will not be able
to determine what's important and what's not, because everything will
look the same. That's why you use <strong> or <em> - you're telling the
browser to STRONGly present or EMphasize the text in question, whether
it reads the stylesheet or not.
</twocents>

Jeremy


I just re-read that post in relation to the OP and it makes no sense in
context... I think the OP somehow ran together in my head with the
strange ramblings of "pe********************@gmail.com".

Jeremy
Jun 30 '06 #9
David Trimboli wrote:
In designing some of my pages (see
http://www.trimboli.name/rune/goblinmagic.html for an example), I
created a lot of markup to mimic the book upon which the pages are
based. My thinking at the time was that even if one turned off styles
one should see the words "Narration," "Background," or "Closer
Inspection" in a boldface font, or at least as distinct from the rest
of the paragraph. "It's an indication of what sort of paragraph it
is," I thought, "so it's really semantic and not just presentational.
And since it's an important keyword for the paragraph, that makes it
<strong>."

In reading a number of sources about <b> vs. <strong>, and about the
meaning of <strong> and <em>, I find myself doubting this logic. I
recently changed all the <strong>s to <b>s because of this, and now I
doubt that, too. What is the semantic logic of a printed paragraph in
which the first word or phrase is followed by a full stop, and is the
topic of the rest of the paragraph? Is it really just presentational
after all?


I realise you are are attempting to mimic the look of a book but in my
opinion this is difficult to do using the different screen media.

Would you consider the use of Definition List for the markup? It is
exampled as a use for DL in the Reference if I remember correctly. The
benefit of using DL is that it presents the difference between
"divisional" words, such as "Narrative" and "content" both visually and
by a screen reader and whether css is enabled or not.

The styling of what I have called "divisional" words is in my view only
to make a visual differentiation. In reading a script, what should be
declaimed, the characters name or his words; so strong and emphasis for
a "divisional" word don't seem appropriate; anything else would do,
color, font-family, font-style, font-weight, bracketing for example

Could I suggest something along these lines.
dl.snippet {
border: 1px solid #000000;
margin: auto;
padding: 0.2em;
width: 50%;
}
dl.snippet dt {
color: #999999;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: bold;
}

<dl class="snippet">
<dt>Background:</dt>
<dd><img src="book.png" width="72" height="50" alt="book"
style="display:block;float:left;"><div style="padding-left:72px;">This
is the outer hall of the goblin's lair, and it is guarded by three
traps. Two of these are meant to halt intruders, and the third is an
alarm.</div>
</dd>
</dl>

Louise
Jul 1 '06 #10

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