[whatwg] Rethinking emphasis (was:The m element)

David Latapie david at empyree.org
Wed Feb 7 23:45:27 PST 2007

On Thu, 08 Feb 2007 12:16:09 +0530, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

>>> Strong provides a strong emphasis, no?

> One is stronger than the other. Given that HTML5 allows nesting of 
> emphasis, 
> there is not much point in having the strong element as well, is 
> there? If em 
> refers to the importance of some text in the context of the internal 
> semantics 
> of the text (where m refers to its importance in a context not 
> generally derived 
> from its internal semantics), then doesn't nesting it convey weighted 
> importance?
> It seems to me we could do away with both m and strong here and not lose 
> anything (except that strong appears occasionally in the wild).

As I proposed earlier on www-html @ W3C and just 45 minutes ago here, 
emphasis should be revamped so as to allow *de-emphasis* too (which is 
either rendered now as parenthesis or, more difficult to “semantise”, 
as small text)

Plus, why two levels? Why not only one or why not four levels? Plus, 
this em/strong is (maybe) the only one to carry *incremental values* 
(I'm not sure I'm clear there): two tags which conveys similar 
information, just stronger.

Now, the typographic origin of it is clear, but when it comes to 
semantics, I think we shall distance ourselves from the printing 
industry, and em/strong is such a case.

For now, we have an unbalanced system:

- not symmetrical: +1, +2, nothing for minus
- incremental: one value basically does the same as the previous one, 
just stronger. This is the only I case I can think of where such a 
thing happens in the specs
- limited levels: why two levels? why not three, six, twelve? I agree 
more than four is quite useless, but we shall not limit ourselves 
there. Let's take CSS as an example:

|CSS avoids binary keywords (like yes/no and true/false) to *more 
easily have room*
|for additional values in the future.
(emphasis is mine)

This sounds as what we shall do here.

Here is what I proposed earlier:

First proposal

Expanded proposal

With nesting

To sum it up (this was a XHTML 2.0, hence the reference to role, which 
I never really understood):
strong is really just a supercharged em, semantic-wise.

So I suggest: " <emph property="relative value" ".

- <emph> is chosen for interoperabilty
- <em> is a transitional shortcut for <emph value="+1">
- <strong> is a transitional shortcut for <emph value="+2">

Values could be like this.
- <emph value="0">    default
- <emph value="+1">   equivalent to em
- <emph value="+2">   equivalent to strong
- <emph value="-1">   less important, may be rendered as font- 
size:smaller or voice-stress:reduced <http://www.w3.org/TR/css3- 
- and so on

This allows for:
- potential <emph value="+3"> or more, which use has yet to come—or not
- ability to note something as *less important*. For now, I use  
<small> for this (I use font-size when semantics is not important). A  
possible <em-1> (here, "-" is "minus") could be interesting.

Nesting would be covered by addition

“Animals (for instance dogs, like _mine_) do it”

“Animals (<emph role="-1">for instance dogs, like <emph  
role="+1">mine</emph>)</emph> do it”

“Animals (for instance dogs, like mine) do it”
[-- 0 ---|---------- -1 -------|- 0 -| 0----]

CSS example
screen, projection
	emph|0, emph|-1 emph|+1: font-size:inherit, font-style:normal
	emph|-1: font-size:smaller, font-style:normal
	emph|+1: font-size:inherit, font-style:italic
	emph|+2: font-size:inherit, font-weight:bolder

	emph|0, emph|-1 emph|+1: voice-stress:none
	emph|-1: voice-stress:reduced
	emph|+1: voice-stress:moderate
	emph|+2: voice-stress:strong

(there may also be a final gap at the end of de-emphasis, but this is  
not related to nesting, this is just an extra thought)

Any input appreciated
</david_latapie>             U+0F00
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