[whatwg] Tag Soup: Blocks-in-inlines

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Thu Jan 26 10:07:54 PST 2006

Alexey Feldgendler wrote:
> On Thu, 26 Jan 2006 21:09:44 +0600, Anne van Kesteren 
>> <em> has never been defined in a way that it could give entire paragraphs
>> emphasis. I'm not really saying anything is wrong about it, just that 
>> has never been defined. Also, <em> was defined to be inline-level 
>> (nothing
>> to do with presentation) in HTML4 which means that it could not contain
>> block-level (again, apart from presentation) elements so parsers did 
>> funny
>> things on error recovery.
> This confirms the point that the classification of elements into 
> block-level and inline-level is just a convention not backed by a 
> semantic requirement. 

Of course it can be. What does:
mean? How can a paragraph and a list be abbreviations for anything? 
Similarly how would <dfn><header/></dfn> work? How can a header be the 
defining instance of a term when a header is clearly not a term?. 
Clearly there is a useful distinction to be made between elements that 
apply to textual content and elements that provide page structure. This, 
essentially, is the semantic requirement behind the block/inline 

"It seems to be a constant throughout history: In every period, people 
believed things that were just ridiculous, and believed them so strongly 
that you would have gotten in terrible trouble for saying otherwise."

-- http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html

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