[whatwg] less than normal importance/emphasis

Jukka K. Korpela jkorpela at cs.tut.fi
Tue Apr 15 06:10:51 PDT 2008

Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

> The draft currently says that <small> "represents small print".

That's just confusing. The expression "small print" is often used 
figuratively to mean 'less important' _or_ 'less noticeable'. If you 
don't mean either of them, don't use the phrase. Just say that <small> 
indicates that the textual content be presented in a small font size.

That would be vague too, though in the same manner as the current spec.

A better formulation would be "be presented in a font size smaller than 
that of the enclosing element".

This would be consistent with current browser practice, which many 
existing pages rely on. Authoring style like

<h1>Main heading<br> <small>Subheading</small><h1>

is just fine. Don't break it. Tell any special browsers to implement the 
way other browsers do. Don't tell them to treat <small> as "small 

It might be appropriate to add, as an informal note, that <small> is 
comparable to <font size="-1"> and to the CSS expression font-size: 
smaller and these are typically implemented as a font size reduction by 
the same amount. However, this is not guaranteed. (Or should it be?) 
Moreover, browsers may treat <small> as different from other font size 
settings in the sense that <small> takes effect even when told to ignore 
font size settings on web pages. (That's what IE does, anyway.)

> I would at any rate say that the current definition doesn't differ
> very much from how it is now.

I'm afraid it does, and not in a positive direction.

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")

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