[whatwg] Footnotes, end notes, side notes
giecrilj at stegny.2a.pl
Mon Apr 28 12:04:43 PDT 2008
Although providing the footnote as a tool-tip
seems appealing at the first glance,
it is not exactly how it should be done.
Footnotes are commonly used for bibliographic references;
using the title attribute seems to be a non-solution in this case.
Text of such "footnotes" cannot be copied
and they cannot contain hyperlinks.
From: whatwg-bounces at lists.whatwg.org
[mailto:whatwg-bounces at lists.whatwg.org] On Behalf Of Ian Hickson
Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 2:19 PM
To: WHATWG List
Subject: Re: [whatwg] Footnotes, end notes, side notes
On Sun, 5 Nov 2006, Martin Atkins wrote:
> It seems to be that the visual continuous media equivalent of a footnote
> is something like a tooltip or pop-up box containing some text. It'd
> only be displayed when the user requests it, by clicking on or hovering
> over it. Paper documents permanently display the footnotes only because
> of the limitations of the media.
> Doing click-to-view "footnotes" with current CSS is tricky, but doing
> hover-to-view is reasonably straightforward using some trickery with the
> :hover pseudo-class and display:none, as long as the footnote content is
> Reverting to traditional footnotes for print media based on the same
> markup is not straightforward, however. The CSS3 support for shuffling
> elements about would do it, but we're not there yet.
I think the CSS stuff is less of a big deal than you make it out to be,
but I agree in general with those comments.
On Wed, 1 Nov 2006, Michael(tm) Smith wrote:
> Whatever browser implementation poverty there might be in handling of
> the title attribute, the fundamental deficiency is that basing a
> mechanism for displaying annotations on an attribute value limits the
> content of the annotations to text. Annotations that can't even contain
> simple character formatting are useless for anything except the simplest
All good points.
> > One thing to consider when looking at footnotes is "would the title=""
> > attribute handle this use case as well as what I'm proposing?". If the
> > answer is "yes", or "almost", then it's probably not a good idea to
> > introduce the new feature.
> I really don't think so. There are accessibility and usability issues
> the title attribute.
> * Screen readers don't read the title attribute by default.
> * Tooltips are inaccessible (in current implementations) to keyboard
> they require hovering with a mouse.
> * Users have no clear way of identifying which content has a tool tip,
> for maybe abbr and acronym (which get a dotted border in FF).
> * It's also limited to plain text, when even the example from wikipedia
> contains additional markup.
> The first 3 issues could possibly be addressed by changing the
> rendering, but how do you identify a regular title attribute from one
> intended to be a footnote? Would it be appropriate for all of them to
> be treated as footnotes? I don't think so.
> When an author cannot got hold of a work herself, she must sometimes
> cite a citation of that work in second work. This is what the
> abbreviation cit. is for. And sometimes a citation refers to more than
> one version of a work. Here's an example out of the Oxford Style Guide:
> J. D. Denniston, /The Greek Particles/ (Oxford, 1934; citations are from
> the 2nd edn., 1954).
> Without more clarity (and that partly means examples) on how <cite />
> should apply to the complexity of real academic citations, I'd avoid
> making the assumption that <cite /> cannot contain <cite /> -- for now.
<cite> is now defined to mean "title of work".
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