[whatwg] <h1> to <h6> in <body>

Matthew Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Thu Mar 31 07:30:06 PST 2005

Ian Hickson wrote:
 > I strongly feel that the <title> element is _not_ a level above the
 > first <h1>. The <title> is metadata, a context-free label to be used
 > to describe the page elsewhere. The (first) <h1> is the main header
 > for the document.
 > I intend to explicitly state this in the spec.

It is a bad idea for the meaning of an element to be markedly different 
from the meaning of its name. That is likely to cause confusion, 
non-conformance, and disrespect for the spec in general.

Authors have been encouraged to misuse <title> so far for a different 
reason: the lack of a well-defined standard for presenting the other 
information they want shown in document summaries. So a better idea 
would be to explicitly define a very limited number of rel= attributes 
(as you already plan to do) to contain the non-title data that authors 
most often put in <title> -- mainly author and publisher -- and perhaps 
allow the rel= attribute to be placed in elements other than <link> and <a>.

As UAs of all types (and particularly bookmark managers and search 
engines) begin presenting this data, the desire for authors to put 
non-title information in <title> will lessen. As an added bonus, the 
presentation of the information will become more consistent between 
pages. (Visit 20 random news/Weblog sites currently and you'll likely 
see 15 different <title> arrangements, with various combinations of ":", 
"-", "|" and so on that give a screenreader hiccups.)

 > > > A lot of documents have things before their main header, if only
 > > > advertising, introductory paragraphs, or the like.
 > >
 > > Which certainly don't belong to the first chapter.
 > But they do belong to the document, which is what the first header is
 > a heading for.

That is often true, but not always. When the document contains more than 
one heading of that level, for example, it is hardly ever true.

Matthew Thomas

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