[whatwg] the cite element

Erik Vorhes erik at textivism.com
Tue Oct 6 13:15:58 PDT 2009

On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 2:52 PM, Gordon P. Hemsley <gphemsley at gmail.com> wrote:
> I was discussing the <cite> element with TabAtkins on IRC and I
> proposed analyzing the actual word 'cite'. Using it as a verb, the
> definition of 'cite' applies to quotes/quotations, titles, and people,
> depending on the context. TabAtkins noted that the first use case is
> so far off of legacy implementations, that it wouldn't even be worth
> considering for <cite> (especially because we have other elements that
> function as such).
> That leaves usages of 'cite' for both titles of works and authors of
> works. Putting aside the issue of styling for a moment, these two
> pieces of data both fall under the semantic meaning of 'cite'. Thus,
> they should fall under the semantic meaning of <cite>. If an author
> should have the need to differentiate between the two, I propose that
> they use <cite class="title"> and <cite class="author">.
> Thus, I propose the following (which TabAtkins generally agrees with):
> Leave the default styling of <cite> to be italicized for legacy
> implementations and allow any reference to any work or author, with
> the granularity decided by the individual web developer.

+1 for this redefinition. I believe it addresses most common non-title
uses of <cite> without opening it up to the kind of confusion/abuse
that Ian and others have been concerned about. It has the added
benefit of not adding a new element to the spec.

> I also propose allowing parenthetical citations and footnote markers
> (as is used in the various W3C/WHATWG specifications) to also be
> marked up with <cite>, though I'm not sure if TabAtkins agrees with me
> on that point.

I suppose <a> allows for more functionality in current UAs, but this
is an interesting proposition, especially if there were a way to
crosslink <cite> used in this way to the original source (or whatever
it would point to). Would it be something along the lines of <cite
for="aside-id">, or did you have something else in mind?


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