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Re: Bold Italics


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Sep 25, 2012 10:36PM

2012-09-26 0:06, Bevi Chagnon wrote:

[about <strong><em>text</em></strong>]

> If we were coding a website from scratch, that would probably work. But I'm
> not sure how screen readers would interpret both <strong> and <em> around
> some text.

If the starting point is that the client "needs to use both bold and
italics" and this apparently means using them both for some piece of
text, then safest way to achieve that is to use <b><i>text</i></b> and
to make the best effort to ensure that the font being used has a bold
italic typeface.

Many people say that one should use "logical" or "semantic" markup
<strong> and <em> instead of <b> and <i>, which is somewhat paradoxical,
since the meaning of <b> and <i> has been fairly well defined (HTML5 is
trying to obscure this), whereas <strong> and <em> have never been
defined satisfactorily. "Strong emphasis" and "emphasis" don't really
say what the meanings are.

If you expect that screen readers do something with <i> and <b>, or with
<em> and <strong>, then the way they treat such markup when nested will
inevitably depend on the primary methods. If they use a different
speaker (like male vs. female) for <b> and/or <strong> and a different
volume for <i> and/or <em>, then they will obviously just use both in
the nested case. If they use just different levels of volume, then the
effect could be cumulative, or it could (more probably) be just the same
as for <b> or <strong> alone. But this is probably not very relevant.
The effect, if any, will hardly be distinguishable from that of <b> or

> However, this is a Word document that must be 508-compliant

I wonder what 508 rules apply to Word documents. Usually "508" refers to
§ 1194.22 Web-based intranet and internet information and applications,
which more or less implies that the information is in HTML format.
Although § 1194.21 Software applications and operating systems might be
interpreted as applying to Word documents (can they be seen as "software
applications"?), I wonder if any of rules set requirements on Word

> and will
> eventually be converted to XML, HTML and a PDF.

The rules that apply to the converted result may be anticipated when
preparing the original document and when carrying out the conversion
process, but this does not mean that specific requirements on the
original document can be deduced.

> Word has character styles <strong> and <emphasis> and you can't apply both,
> only one.

I don't see how character styles set a limitation here. Using styles in
Word is a good principle, but I can't see how it would be a 508
requirement. You can use simply bold and italic formatting, or you can
define a style of your own that makes text bold italic. And at least in
Word 2007, there is a predefined "Intense emphasis" style that is set to
be bold and italic (and in a special color).