[whatwg] [br] element should not be a line break

Christoph Päper christoph.paeper at crissov.de
Thu Aug 26 00:17:24 PDT 2010

Ian Hickson:
> On Wed, 4 Aug 2010, Thomas Koetter wrote:
>> What strikes me though is that according to the spec "The br element 
>> represents a line break". A *line* break is presentational in nature. 
>> The break is structural, but restricting it to a certain presentation of 
>> that break lacks the desired separation of structure and presentation.
>> Wouldn't it make more sense to consider the br element to be just a 
>> minor logical break inside a paragraph?
> Calling it a "line break" doesn't say how it is rendered. It's just a 
> conceptual description.

It presupposes the existance of lines, though. Lines are a very visual concept, although they can be applied to oral language, as in poems and songs (where ‘//’ is often an accepted representation for line breaks in transcripts). An oral line may span several literal lines and vice versa.

Paragraphs (and breaks therein), of course, are also a concept of written language, as are sentences.

However, I believe the underlying problem is simply that “line break” is (too) often used and understood as a synonym for “new line”, at least by non-native speakers. Speaking of breaks on line or paragraph level therefore makes more sense to me.

> (A "minor logical break inside a paragraph" is not generally represented 
> by a line break, at least not in any typographic conventions I've seen; 
> usually, in my experience, those are denoted either using ellipses, 
> em-dashes, or parentheses.)

That’s true for real paragraphs, but not for most “non-paragraphic” texts, e.g. addresses.

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