[whatwg] De-emphasis

Nicholas Shanks contact at nickshanks.com
Fri Feb 9 10:02:03 PST 2007

On 9 Feb 2007, at 17:19, David Latapie wrote:

> - small: It does not cope well inline. I (almost) never use small in a
> paragraph; I use it for one-liners, e.g. <small>source:</small> or
> <small>No this is a long post, right?</small>

Agreed, when I use small, which these days is just for things like  
post author and date on my blog, it's *always* wrapped by a p tag and  
is included only because certain text-based browsers render it in a  
darker green than body text on a black bg (basically a sort of  
opacity: 0.5 !).

>> I'd propose, then, that inline visual de-emphasis may be impossible.
>> (I'd suspect the same for audio de-emphasis -- would the smart screen
>> reader whisper it? Wouldn't that, too, draw attention?)
> "voice-stress:reduced" come to my mind. I'll come further by saying
> that, here, aural is better than screen

Indeed I was mostly considering marking up an aural origin for de- 
emphasis rather than a printed origin. I agree that there's not  
really a precedent in Western print for something like this beyond  
parentheses (though I can't speak for Arabic or Asian print), but  
there *is* a clear usage case for transcribing speech.

I think the best use case for <dem> would be (in western typography,  
again) to wrap around parenthetical statements such as the one in the  
sentence. However, as the problems with <q> have demonstrated, it  
cannot be assured that all user agents would support adding  
parentheses from Day 1, and as such <dem> should have NO default  
visual styling. "voice-stress: reduced" is fine for aural though.

However you could say that it's the aural renderer's responsibility  
to understand parenthetical content, whether marked up or not, and  
say it with reduced stress.

This leaves de-emphasis as purely a theoretical tag for markup  
purists and without any tangible benefit for most HTML authors.

- Nicholas.
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