[whatwg] small element should allow nested elements

Aryeh Gregor Simetrical+w3c at gmail.com
Fri Aug 14 06:55:36 PDT 2009

On Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 5:09 AM, Ian Hickson<ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> I wouldn't bother wrapping any of the above as small print. If you're
> structuring this enough that you have numbered lists and paragraphs and
> everything, then it's either not small print, or it shouldn't be.

To the contrary: the more text there is, the more you want to make it
small print.  That's the point of small print.  :)  Even very brief
legalese can often run to more than a paragraph.  Even if it's not so
useful for <small> or (say) <em>, it would make a lot of sense for
various other elements that are currently only inline.  For instance:

<strong>: A particularly important section of a document.  For
instance, it's common in EULAs for one or two sections (like
disclaimer of warranty) to be entirely uppercase, often running to
multiple paragraphs.  It would be semantically correct to wrap the
entire section in <strong>.

<i>: A run of text in a novel that's meant to be set off in mood from
the surrounding text.  For instance, a multiparagraph flashback

<cite>: The name of a postmodern work of art whose author chose to
name it something 7,000 words long.  (Okay, I'm kidding.)

I've run into more than one case where I wanted to wrap inline
elements around blocks and couldn't.  If this could be implemented in
a reverse-compatible way, that would be awesome.

> Allowing elements to wrap both inlines and blocks is a huge can of worms
> which has caused all kinds of problems for <ins>, <del>, and <a>. I really
> don't want to start adding more elements to this list of complexity.

I certainly realize that -- you can't even say what their CSS display
property should be set to, at least not in a way that CSS currently
supports.  But once everyone has to support this behavior for those
three elements, is there any reason not to extend the same behavior to
other elements?  Is there a significant marginal cost for allowing use
as both inline and block for new elements once we've already paid the
overhead of allowing it at all?

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