[whatwg] many messages regarding image captions

David Walbert dwalbert at learnnc.org
Tue Nov 28 06:16:15 PST 2006

On Nov 27, 2006, at 8:49 PM, Ian Hickson wrote:

>    <figure>
>      <img ...>
>      <legend> ... </legend>
>    </figure>

Ian, thank you -- this is simple, clear, and functional. Ideally (as  
several people have pointed out) the element would be called  
"caption," but I'm content to accept your explanation of why that  
won't work. "Legend" is sufficiently intuitive for the typical person  
using HTML, as is "figure."

Regarding credit vs. caption,

> This one in particular:
>> http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,,1806799,00.html
> ...suggests we may want to have multiple <legend> elements per  
> <figure>,
> to allow for a caption and photo credit to be given. What do people  
> think?
> Would some other way of inline giving photo credit metadata be better?

Yes, I think a separate element for credit would be great. The  
caption and credit are functionally different. A caption tells the  
reader why an image has been included in the page; a credit tells  
where it came from.

I've done a quick survey this morning of magazines and textbooks  
around the office, and confirmed my suspicion that typically, caption  
and credit are displayed and styled separately. I think they would be  
more often separated on the web if average web design was as careful  
and competent as average print design. They look the same on the  
Guardian's website, but most often, the caption is small sans-serif  
text placed directly under or beside the photo with little margin,  
and the caption is in larger text slightly farther below the image.  
If the credit is in the same visual block with the caption, it's  
often presented in a different font. The photo on this page, rather  
unfortunately, shows both designs:


Obviously, styling doesn't determine semantics, but if the design is  
thoughtful styling does reflect semantics, and the stylistic  
conventions help readers to process the caption and credit separately  
as they read. If practical, the same assistance ought to be available  
to non-sighted readers.

When there are several images on a page, an author might wish to put  
all of the photo credits at the bottom so as not to clutter up the  
presentation unduly, but if the credit were a separate element, that  
could be done with scripting while leaving the semantics intact.

Would the credit element, whatever it is called, be block or inline?  
Semantically I don't believe it makes much difference. I suppose I'd  
recommend that it be an inline element inside the <legend>, because  
then with CSS I could declare it to be display: block and pull it  
out, whereas if it's a block-level element, there's no easy way to  
put it back inside the legend.

On Nov 28, 2006, at 2:56 AM, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis wrote:
> On Tue, 2006-11-28 at 01:15 -0500, fantasai wrote:
>> I'd suggest using <address>, e.g.
>>    <figure>
>>      <img>
>>      <address>Photo by Mariel</address>
>>    </figure>
>>    <figure>
>>      <img>
>>      <caption>Carcassonne</caption>
>>      <address>Photo by Mariel</address>
>>    </figure>
> Mere attribution is not "contact information". If all attributions
> included a link to the creator's or copyright holder's webpage, or an
> email address, that would work, but there's no guarantee they will.  
> Such
> usage dilutes the meaning of <address/>.

I agree; attribution is not contact information, though it may  
include contact information. Attribution may contain the following:

  - name of creator/photographer
  - copyright date
  - copyright holder
  - name of provider (such as "photo courtesy of..." or simply "Getty  
Images" or "Associated Press")
  - link to creator or provider's home page

Is licensing information part of the credit? The simple "All Rights  
Reserved" is common, but what about a link to a Creative Commons or  
other license? What about the Creative Commons logo? Can the legend  
or credit of a figure contain another image?

Finally, the captions for images in the content management system I  
designed and use also include a link to a full database record of the  
image -- but that is, I guess, part of a credit rather than of a  
caption, and such usage isn't  common.

David Walbert
LEARN NC, UNC-Chapel Hill
dwalbert at learnnc.org

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