Re: Initial Draft --Cascaded Speech Style Sheets

Scott E. Preece (
Wed, 14 Feb 1996 16:59:23 -0600

From: David Seibert <>
| > While <EM> and <STRONG> do remove the implication of a specific visual
| > style, there is NO rationale for using one or the other for any given
| > piece of text other than imprecations (where the strength of the warning
| > is intended). While their use for warnings *does* imply a way to
| > distinguish them aurally, their use for anything else does not. Aside
| > from that one use (which would be better conveyed by WARNING and
| > STRONG-WARNING tags), they are just presentation markup, but without the
| > virtue of convention to support them.
| The tags <em> and <strong> have more intuitive meanings than <i> and <b>
| for people who work aurally rather than visually. Their usefulness is
| not limited to warnings - think about how you would say "<b>Stop</b>
| pressing the button", and "If this were a <em>real</em> emergency".

Well, that falls within what I meant by warnings. The only place English makes an emphasis vs strong emphasis distinction is where the text is, in effect, spoken. This is a small subset of the reasons an author might have for visually distinguishing text.

|   > If, in writing bibliographic citations, I use CITE for the title, STRONG
|   > for the volume number, and EM for the issue number, that just means I
|   > want them distinguished, it doesn't mean I want the volumne number...
|   That's a good argument for keeping the prescriptive tags for visual 
|   presentation when they don't carry any meaning, but suggesting that they 
|   be ignored by aural UAs as the default.  That way, authors will be 
|   encouraged to use descriptive tags to get better multiple media 
|   presentation. 

I don't like that "don't carry any meaning". For most of the purposes that text that most authors produce serves, distinguishing types of data is much more important than how it would be spoken. It's quite possible that no page I ever write will ever be listened to, but Web robots may be running over them all the time, looking for special kinds of text to index.

My point is not to diminish the importance of alternative-media, but to point to the importance of descriptive markup for many purposes.


scott preece
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