[whatwg] Double meaning of the <u> element

Ashley Sheridan ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk
Tue May 1 19:39:56 PDT 2012

On Wed, 2012-05-02 at 11:31 +1000, Shaun Moss wrote:

> I know it's contentious, but as a teacher it's very simple to teach 
> students of HTML5 that:
> <u> = underline
> <b> = bold
> <i> = italic
> <s> = strikethrough
> Of course, I also teach <strong> and <em>, but the simplest way to teach 
> <b> and <i> is that it's merely an easy way to create bold or italic 
> text when the meaning of <strong> or <em> doesn't apply. They represent 
> a convenience that spares the author the work of using span tags and 
> creating a CSS class with font-weight or font-style properties. <u> is 
> the same, just an easy way to create underlined text. It doesn't really 
> need semantics piled on top of it - that just makes it harder to teach 
> and learn. But using Chinese names or misspelled text as /examples/ of 
> when to use <u> is another matter.
> I grok the desire to have all tags defined semantically, but if the 
> semantic definitions add unnecessary complexity, then it just seems like 
> a kludge. Anyone can understand <b> = bold.
> Shaun
> On 2012-04-30 3:46 PM, Andrés Sanhueza wrote:
> > The<u>  element was made conforming due to widespread usage and for
> > some cases were other elements weren't suitable. However, I feel that
> > the current definition is not very clear, as it gives two somewhat
> > unrelated used for it: misspelled text and proper names on Chinese. I
> > believe that is fine if is one or the other, but by the current
> > definition seems that the purpose of retaining the element is merely
> > were to underline needs to be used to represent something regardless
> > what it is, which seems inconsistent with other similar tags that are
> > better defined to have more finite purposes that aren't based on the
> > fallback presentational look, even if relevant at the time of defining
> > those. By the definitions seems that proper names and book names are
> > suitable to be indicated by<b>  and<cite>  respectively; or some new
> > element altogether. I'm aware that the fallback look is an issue, yet
> > I believe it should be resolved in a more consistent way.

I still seems more important to ask why something should be bold or
italic. Surely getting students into the mindset of describing their
data is more beneficial?

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