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'' should be interpreted as <i>, not <em>
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Author: mpt

MediaWiki interprets '' as <em>. But most pages created
with MediaWiki are for Wikimedia projects, which aren't
like most other Web sites; most of our uses of italics are
for citations of works <cite>, phrases in other languages
<i lang="de">, taxonomical names <i class="taxonomy">, or
mathematical variables <var>. Very, very few are for
emphasized text. Since Wikimedia project contributors are
unlikely to care about the distinction between <em>/<cite>/
<var>/<dfn>/etc, articles would sound more sensible to
screenreaders if '' was interpreted as the neutral <i>.

(Possibly new syntax for emphasis, citations, and variables
could be created later for those thoughtful enough to use

Version: unspecified
Severity: normal
See Also:
T3038: Reflect XHTML trend from "b" and "i" towards "strong" and "em"
T9921: ''Text'' and '''Text''' should use em and strong



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Event Timeline

bzimport raised the priority of this task from to Medium.Nov 21 2014, 6:54 PM
bzimport set Reference to bz369.
bzimport added a subscriber: Unknown Object (MLST).

Can you give an example of a screen reader which reads <em> and <i> differently, and describe what the difference is?

mpt wrote:

... No. According to e-mail from Joe Clark (who should
know, if anyone does), currently most screenreaders
piggyback on MSIE, which does not distinguish between <i>/
<em>/<cite>/etc. Disillusioned I am, yes.

So while we wait for more advanced screenreaders to
arrive, I guess the main current problem is with people
who use user styles [[Help:User_style]] to distinguish the
various semantic elements. For example, em {font-color:
#090} cite {font-weight: 550}. But I can understand if you
have better things to do than a find-and-replace for their

michael wrote:

I'd rather see a solution that adds CITE, DFN, VAR, etc. to wikitext, than to emasculate the EMs. Adoption would take a while,
but in time we'd have a semantically richer site. The search engine could be enhanced to take advantage of these.

Might be useful to add some common shortcuts specific to particular disciplines, which render HTML like the following:

&lt;i class="specific">Roadrunnerus fastus&lt;>
&lt;i class="foreign" lang="la">e pluribus unum&lt;>
&lt;cite class="novel">Crime and Punishment&lt;>

<cite> and <var> are permitted HTML tags in wikitext, so if you _must_ use them you can
use them directly.

<dfn> is not currently available, but the self-link->bold special case could/should
perhaps output <dfn> instead of <strong>.

One issue is that these tags don't have a standard formatting, so the stylesheets may need
to be careful about undoing 'weird' defaults in some browsers.

Finally got around to this. Changed in 1.4 CVS.

epriestley added a commit: Unknown Object (Diffusion Commit).Mar 4 2015, 8:19 AM