[whatwg] Footnotes, endnotes, sidenotes

Martin Atkins mart at degeneration.co.uk
Sun Nov 5 08:15:47 PST 2006

Elliotte Harold wrote:
> Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
>> Scholarly books sometimes use both footnotes and endnotes for 
>> different things -- footnotes for citations and endnotes for 
>> tangential discussions, or vice versa. I've never seen an HTML 
>> document try to make this distinction, though.
> Distinguishing footnotes and endnotes would require a multipage 
> document: footnotes go at the bottom of this page, endnotes at the 
> bottom of some other page.
> Since HTML5 is primarily about single pages, I suggest calling any such 
> element footnote and not having a separate endnote element. This is a 
> good example of picking fewer over more semantics as discussed in 
> another thread.

It seems to be that the visual continuous media equivalent of a footnote 
is something like a tooltip or pop-up box containing some text. It'd 
only be displayed when the user requests it, by clicking on or hovering 
over it. Paper documents permanently display the footnotes only because 
of the limitations of the media.

Doing click-to-view "footnotes" with current CSS is tricky, but doing 
hover-to-view is reasonably straightforward using some trickery with the 
:hover pseudo-class and display:none, as long as the footnote content is 

Reverting to traditional footnotes for print media based on the same 
markup is not straightforward, however. The CSS3 support for shuffling 
elements about would do it, but we're not there yet.

More information about the whatwg mailing list