[whatwg] The m element

Leons Petrazickis leons.petrazickis at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 07:23:33 PST 2007

On 2/8/07, James Graham <jg307 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> > Leons, you forgot to CC the list.
> >
> > Leons Petrazickis wrote:
> >> Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> >>> <m> is for highlighting text that is of some interest to the reader,
> >>> but it does not alter the meaning of the text itself.
> >>
> >> Would you say that <em> is semantic and <m> is presentational, with
> >> the difference from <span>  is in default formatting?  Or is "meaning"
> >>  not quite the right word -  is <m> like a highlighter in revision
> >> change tracking, meant to be seen and then discarded?
> >
> > No, <m> does have semantics.  It marks a specific point of interest, as
> > you might do with a highlighter, it just doesn't alter the meaning of
> > the text itself.
> A marker element certianly has a few use cases: marking syntax highlighting e.g.
> <m class="keyword">def</m> <m class="functionName>foo</m>; marking search terms
> identified on a page, marking parts of a document with an external annotation
> attached (though arguably this requires more sophisticated machinary). I believe
>   (though many including, I suspect, Hixie, would disagree) the real question is
> whether using <m> rather than span for these use cases enables useful features
> in general purpose UAs (e.g. a common aural styling, a way of presenting the
> information in aggregate form, etc.). I'm strugging to see that it does.

One example would be the highlighting of terms in Google Cache:

This is Google's current syntax:
<b style="color:black;background-color:#ffff66">Primate</b>

They are marking the search terms with a highlighter. In an aural
browser, would these terms be read differently? Perhaps. Does this
transfer to mobile browsers? Very definitely.

In the Western world, the standard for highlighting is a neon yellow
background. I submit that a much better name for <m> is <hi>
(<hilite>, <highlite>, <highlight>). People don't necessarily mark
text much -- if anything, "mark" implies underlining, circling, and
drawing arrows -- but they do highlight. In university, I often saw
students perched with their notes and a highlighter, marking important
sections. The semantic meaning is to draw attention for later review.

The default styling of <hi> would be a neon yellow background.
Google's choice of #ffff66 could well be suitable.

Leons Petrazickis
Database Technology Advocate, IBM

I work on the free DB2 Express-C data server

More information about the whatwg mailing list