Re: Formatting Options in HTML?

Tim Berners-Lee (
Thu, 13 May 93 10:24:01 +0100

> From: Aleksandar Totic <>
> Subject: Re: Formatting Options in HTML?

> I agree that HTML should not be specific about formatting. But it
> would be good if there were better guidelines about how browsers
> should implement formatting instructions.

I have added some "Typical rendering" instructions to the
descriptions of headings, lists, P, ADDRESS, etc., in the HTML
description linked to
which might help.

> This is because writers of
> hypertext make some assumptions about how will their text be
> presented. For example, when should carriage returns be inserted
> text? Many writers assume that CR is inserted automatically before
> each header line, and do not put it in there explicitly

Absolutely. Those conversant with SGML realise that the H1 means
"this is a heading, do everything which is appropriate"
which implies paragraph break, maybe a new page if H1 is printed on
paper, a big font, numbering maybe (not on the screen, please, but
perhaps on paper), centering maybe, and lots of luverly white
space all over to make it stand out and easyto read, and an entry in
a table of contents anyone might be generating, plus extra weighting
of all the heading words in any full text index anyone might be
generating. Much more than a font change, folks.

> Now, someone
> else might want to make a list item appear in the header style,
> this:

> <LI><H1> This item should attract attention </H1>

Aaagh. Look at the DTD: Not allowed. Why? because it doesn't
make sense. The heading isn't a style, its a heading. Putting an H1
in a list is like putting an engine on a fruit tree.

The elements H1..H6, ADDRESS, UL, DL, BLOCKQUOTE imply paragraph
break and a special paragraph style. Do not confuse these with the
character highlighting elements, listed separately, such as EM, (and
A) which do NOT cause a beak or define paragraph style.

> If there are no guidelines, the writers might just settle down for
> simplest formatting. I would prefer some kind of standard, so that
> people who desire some variety in their text could get it.

Ok, could you look at what there is and tell me where it is
inadequate? Thanks

> Aleks