[thelist] Bold vs. Strong

Joshua Olson joshua at waetech.com
Tue Aug 12 15:43:03 CDT 2003

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "rudy" <rudy937 at rogers.com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 3:59 PM

> > Anyone know where I can find *the* most unrebuttable
> > argument to use <strong> instead of <b>?
> i don't think there is one
> for instance, you'll always have some joker suggest that there are
> instances where there really is a difference --
>  http://lists.evolt.org/archive/Week-of-Mon-20020729/119509.html
> by the way, that was a really decent thread, perhaps worth your time to
re-read it

Ok, I'm rereading it and I realize that your example is off.  :)

You said:

> here's a good case for <b> instead of <strong> --

> you know how jakob et al use bold to highlight certain key phrases so that
> it's easier to scan ahead and spot the paragraph that deals with the
> subject matter you're looking for?  (what's that called, by the way? i'd
> love to have a more acceptable term than "scan ahead")

> bold is a VISUAL SCANNING CUE in this context, and it would NOT MAKE SENSE
> to have aural browsers EMPHASIZE those words while actually READING THE

This is a case when you'd want to realize that these phrases are not
important because they are BOLD but rather because they optimally convey the
meaning of a paragraph.  So, you should use some sort of semantic
differentiation rather than presentation.  In this case you may choose
class="keyphrases" or "skim".  Then apply CSS to make that bold or whatever.
By doing it this way you've opened the door to being able to programatically
strip this summarized content off the page if necessary.

> make sense?

Yes, do I make sense?  No need to use <b> in your example.  Jakob was just

> i know aardvark is going to argue with this, because he argues with me on
> everything where i think i've figured out what a certain tag is for...

Aardvark's example was beautiful in its simplicity:

> if i had to convert that Mad Magazine page to HTML, i'd use <b>
> over <strong> because it is strictly a visual effect the typesetter
> wanted... remembering how i read those aloud while emphasizing
> the bold words tells me that i do *not* want a screen reader to
> emphasize them, else the poor user might think the thing had gone
> all Hal9000 on them...

But, I'd still suggest that the same visual effect should be accomplished by
using CSS and designating those words as belonging to another class before
I'd argue that it's better to revert back to <b>.  Span is perfectly valid
IMO and is one of the only HTML tags that should justifiably be used to
apply visual styling as opposed to providing semantics.

Joshua Olson
Web Application Engineer
WAE Tech Inc.

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