Emphasis or Italic?

Jon Noring jon at noring.name
Fri Apr 28 18:26:59 EDT 2006

> What's the difference between:


> <em>emphasis</em> and <i>italicized</i>

> and

> <strong>strong</strong> and <b>bold</b>

First, they are all elements in the XHTML namespace.

Second, <em> and <strong> mean emphasis, while <i> and <b> are
intended to say "in visual presentation, make this italic or bold".

That's all!

> It seems to subtle for my browsers.

> The only "difference" I've been able to find is that according to the

> O'Reilly book <strong> and <emphasis> are semantic tags, while <b> and <i>

> are physical, but, most browsers render them the same way (unless you've

> played subtle games with CSS).


> _Are_ there any browsers that render them differently?

Don't know. It depends upon the default style sheet used by browsers.
The CSS 2.1 default style sheet styles <em> and <i> with italics, and
<strong> and <b> in bold. For all the visual browsers, both old and
new that I know of, they default the same way in visual presentation.

From a visual presentation viewpoint they lead to the same end-result
for nearly all browsers I know. But from a text semantic perspective,
they are quite different.

This begs the interesting rhetorical question: in non-visual
presentation, such as text-to-speech, how should <i> and <b> be aurally
rendered to the listener?


Jon Noring

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