[whatwg] details == footnote ?

Elliotte Harold elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Wed Aug 8 03:05:12 PDT 2007

Ian Hickson wrote:

> Henri's understanding is what I originally intended. Is there something in 
> the spec that suggests otherwise? Should I explicitly say that footnotes 
> and endnotes shouldn't be marked up using <details>?

If you're really sure about that, yes. However, please do consider the 
difference between print and onscreen media. In particular, consider 
that footnotes and endnotes are placed where they are in print because 
we can't really hide them until the reader asks to see them. If it were 
possible to put them inline, but only show them after an explicit reader 
request, then publishers might indeed do that.

Arguably that's what an end note is. It is not visible on the page until 
the user flips to the back of the book. In some books, the end notes are 
now consigned to the web so you have to go even further.

Here's what I would ask: irrespective of presentation issues like when 
and where the notes appear on the page, what is the meaning of a details 
element and what is the meaning of a hypothetical footnote element? Are 
they significantly different?

If one can't distinguish these two without referring to presentation, 
then they are indeed the same thing, and details can and should be used 
for footnotes. CSS can be used to indicate presentation.

Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Java I/O 2nd Edition Just Published!

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