HTML 3.2 and Netscape 3.0: Netscape 3.0 Elements and Attributes | WebReference

HTML 3.2 and Netscape 3.0: Netscape 3.0 Elements and Attributes


Miscellaneous Tags and Attributes

HTML 3.2 and Netscape 3.0

There are two types of text emphasis techniques, logical and physical highlighting. Logical highlighting is more in keeping with the markup language model. You describe the type of structure for a block of text and leave the rendering details to the browser. Physical highlighting requests a specific physical format, such as boldface. This gives no clue to the underlying meaning behind the marked-up phrase. Thus browsers cannot easily determine an alternative logical highlighting if they are unable to render the indicated markup. (paraphrased from The HTML Sourcebook, p. 138 [Gr 95]).

Logical emphasis of text

Carryover logical elements are <EM>phasis, <CITE>, <CODE>, <SAMP>, <STRONG> <KBD>, <VAR>, <DFN>, and <Q>uote.. New logical elements in HTML 3.0 are <LANG>uage, <AU>thor, <PERSON>, <ACRONYM>, <ABBREV>iation, <INS>erted text, <DEL>eted text. [Ra 95i] NHTML includes none of the new tags.

Physical emphasis of text

The NHTML <FONT> tag is now part of the HTML 3.2 draft. <BASEFONT> and <BLINK> tags have no equivalents in HTML 3.2, they belong in a style sheet if at all.

Using the FONT tag to explicitly change the size of text is a bad idea because it does nothing to describe the structure of the document, just the appearance. Other browsers will not show the emphasized text. This allows authors to create documents that lose important information when viewed in other browsers. As an extreme case, people could replace headers with center paragraphs with larger fonts, losing header information when viewed in other browsers. Some spiders and agents use header information for their indexing and outline display.

There is, however, an alternative in HTML 3.0, the <BIG> and <SMALL> tags [Ra 95j]. These font style elements are meant to emphasize text. The HTML 3.0 physical emphasis elements are <B>old, <I>talic, <TT> (teletype), <U>nderline, <S>trike-through, <BIG>, <SMALL>, <SUB>, and <SUP>. The BIG, SMALL, SUB, and SUP are included in NHTML 2.0.


<FONT SIZE=-1>Smaller text</FONT> - WRONG
<SMALL><SUP>Smaller, superscript text</SUP></SMALL> - RIGHT

The <BLINK> tag should never be used. Unless your trying to show how annoying it is, then it's OK right? When Mark Andreesson (co-founder of Netscape Communications) was asked about the BLINK tag he said it was put in "as a joke." It only works in Netscape so you lose information with other browsers, and it is just plain annoying.

<BLINK>I'm blinking, help me!</BLINK> - WRONG

The NOBR tag should be replaced with the &nbsp; escape sequence, a non-breaking space. The WBR tag has no HTML 3.0 equivalent.


&nbsp; - RIGHT

The following are common to both NHTML and HTML 3.0 and can be used freely [Me 95].


Comments/suggestions are welcome at


Revised: Apr. 14, 1996