[whatwg] Suggest making <dt> and <dd> valid in <ol>
ian.html at gmail.com
Fri Jul 13 22:22:05 PDT 2012
Hi chief editors and everyone else,
How have you been?
Recently I was involved in a project. One of its pages has a special
content which is like a "life cycle". There are several stages in the
cycle, each stage has a term followed by some text describing the term.
Let's take the life cycle of butterfly for example:
A white egg.
The egg hatches into a caterpillar. The caterpillar eats and grows a
The caterpillar forms a hard outer shell. Inside the shell, the caterpillar
changes into a butterfly.
Butterflies live for only a short time. They will fly, mate, and reproduce.
The female lays an egg that was fertilized by the male.
By seeing such contents, we usually code it using definition list (<dl>).
At first, I was thinking the same idea. But then I realized that stages in
a life cycle should be regarded as ordered contents. So ordered list (<ol>)
would be more appropriate. However, if using ordered list, usually the
approach is to use general heading (<H1>) and paragraph (<p>) to wrap the
term and the description. And that loses the meaning of "definition term"
and "definition description".
I was hesitant about using definition list or ordered list. Finally, I
chose ordered list, but felt uncomfortable about that.
If we could make <dt> and <dd> being not restricted to <dl> only, but could
also exist in <ol>, the problem will be solved perfectly. Like the
And here comes another idea about the definition list (<dl>). By inspecting
the above code, <dt> and <dd>(s) could become more meaningful if they could
be grouped together by <li>. For example:
It's like the case of <label>s and <input>s in <form>. Although it is
valid to just leave all <label>s and <input>s as directly children of <form>,
we often group them with <div>s (or <p>s) to make the markup more
meaningful and organized. And by doing so, we also get the side benefit of
having more styling elements.
To sum up, it would be more meaningful if the following things become valid:
- <dt> and <dd> are not restricted to <dl> only. They could also exist
in <li> of <ol>
- <dt> and <dd> in <dl> may, but not must, be grouped by <li> when in
situations that using <li> to group them could make the markup more
And we surely don't need <dt> and <dd> in <ul> because using <dl> is more
Meaningful and semantic HTML lover | Front-end developer
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