[whatwg] The blockquote element spec vs common quoting practices

Oli Studholme whatwg.org at boblet.net
Wed Jul 6 21:53:59 PDT 2011

Hi All,

I’ve been thinking about this line in the blockquote spec:
  “Content inside a blockquote must be quoted from another source”
Depending on how literally you read this, it makes the following
common quoting practices annoying or impossible:

1. Typographically accepted changes to a quote, such as changing
capitalisation or adding ellipses to indicate missing prose
2. Adding quote metadata inline, such as notes and attribution
3. Adding quote metadata on a line after the block quote, but such
that it remains visually associated with the quote

I’ve found examples of these in the Chicago Manual of Style, web
pages, and books (on Google Books), and the results are here:
These examples are annoying (3) or impossible (2, 1?) to achieve while
being conformant with the current spec.

I’ve outlined the problem and some potential solutions (with their
pros and cons) in:

I think the blockquote spec should be changed to allow the inclusion
of notes and attribution (quote metadata), perhaps by the addition of
a sentence like:
  “Block quotes may also contain annotations or attribution, inline or
in an optional footer element”
This would change blockquote from being purely source content, to
being source content with possible metadata inline or in a footer.
However I don’t think that’s a problem, as these things increase the
value of the quoted content. I think a spec change is necessary to
accommodate common quoting practices.

Thanks for your time

peace - oli studholme

PS Background information:
(“Using footer in blockquote for attribution” thread)

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