The semantics of visual offsetting vs. verbal offsetting

# brenton strine (a month ago)

My understanding of the semantics of <strong> and <em> vs. <b> and <i> is

that the former indicate a stress, emphasis, offset or importance that would be expressed verbally, if reading aloud.

On the other hand, the <b> and <i> tags indicate stress, emphasis, offset

or importance that is visual or typographic.

I frequently see people arguing that <strong> is the most semantic element

to use for a term or keyword because it is the most "important," but in a situation where you would never change the way you read the sentence verbally, but rather, just want the typographic indication that it's a term. To me, I think this is coming from some ambiguity in the word "important" that causes people to fundamentally misunderstand when to use <strong> vs <b>.

Is my understanding (i.e., thinking in terms of visual vs. verbal offset as a way of clarifying the meaning of the definitions) right here, and if so, is there some sort of less ambiguous, authoritative document that I can point people to when these discussions come up? Semantics conversations always seem to come back to a fundamental disagreement about the meaning of the words used in the W3C specification.

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# Qebui Nehebkau (12 days ago)

On 15 September 2017 at 11:49, brenton strine <whatwg at gmail.com> wrote:

My understanding of the semantics of <strong> and <em> vs. <b> and <i> is that the former indicate a stress, emphasis, offset or importance that would be expressed verbally, if reading aloud.

On the other hand, the <b> and <i> tags indicate stress, emphasis, offset or importance that is visual or typographic.

I frequently see people arguing that <strong> is the most semantic element to use for a term or keyword because it is the most "important," but in a situation where you would never change the way you read the sentence verbally, but rather, just want the typographic indication that it's a term. To me, I think this is coming from some ambiguity in the word "important" that causes people to fundamentally misunderstand when to use <strong> vs <b>.

Is my understanding (i.e., thinking in terms of visual vs. verbal offset as a way of clarifying the meaning of the definitions) right here, and if so, is there some sort of less ambiguous, authoritative document that I can point people to when these discussions come up? Semantics conversations always seem to come back to a fundamental disagreement about the meaning of the words used in the W3C specification.

The issue has possibly passed its expiration date by now, but no, I do not think that e.g. the definition of the strong element (as set out at html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/text-level-semantics.html#the-strong-element ) is consistent with your understanding. I don't know exactly what the W3C has to say on the matter at the moment, but most would caution against relying on their somewhat idiosyncratic perspective.

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