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Thread: Citations and scientific publications: Invisible headings?


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From: Heim Manu (HK)
Date: Thu, May 12 2022 11:46PM
Subject: Citations and scientific publications: Invisible headings?
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Hi all,

Question about citation and publications. We are working on a new web compo=
nent which will be used to list scientific publications. There will be diff=
erent ways of visual presentation; the information remains the same, though=

Those publications are listed with all of their authors (which might be man=
y), with the name of the journal or magazine or book or collection they wer=
e published in, and with the direct links to two scientific resources where=
they can be found. Plus there is a button to open and close an abstract. I=
add some screenshots for those interested in it.

We are discussing if those parts (of each publication that is listed) shoul=
d receive an invisible heading in order to make it easier for screen reader=
users to jump from part to part, e.g. "authors", "journal", "DOI" (technic=
al, well-known term in the field), etc. You could argue, that this is a goo=
d thing because there is (at least) one visual style that discerns those pa=
rts one from another, so why should it not be possible for screen reader us=
ers. But there are also visual styles where all that text looks the same an=
d is arranged in one paragraph, the parts just separated by punctuation. Th=
erefore, some of us argue that this is only purely visual presentation and =
that if we include (invisible) headings, those might not be any true citati=
ons anymore. They would only add a cite tag around the title of the publica=
tion. The links are, of course, separate information, anyway.

Any opinions about that matter? I very much appreciate your expert feedback=
Thanks, Manu

ETH Z=FCrich, Hochschulkommunikation
Manu Heim, Co-Projektleiterin Barrierefreie Kommunikation

Tel +41 44 633 30 66 | Mob +41 77 408 87 02
Anwesend: Mo, Di, Do, Fr

From: glen walker
Date: Fri, May 13 2022 12:18PM
Subject: Re: Citations and scientific publications: Invisible headings?
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From a sighted user's perspective, I find style 1 easier to scan. The
authors are one paragraph and then there's a new line with the journal name
that starts with italics. I don't like the second style because I have to
hunt for the period at the end of the author list to find the journal name.

So using the first style, the bold large font is obviously a heading. (I'm
not sure what that text is called. It's just under the horizontal line
separating each group.)

The list of authors doesn't necessarily need a heading but you could
certainly have a hidden <h3>authors</h3> (assuming the main text is an
<h2>). Since the list of authors is directly after the main text, it's
easy to arrow down with a screen reader to that part so a heading doesn't
buy you a whole lot.

Is it important for someone to know how many authors there are? Since it's
just a comma separated list, I'm guessing the number doesn't matter because
there isn't an easy way to count them up. Otherwise it would be a numbered
list. But you could make it an <ul> (with display:inline) and
::after:content text with a comma (except the last author) and the screen
reader user would know how many authors there are. But if that's important
information, everyone should have access to it.

The journal name in italics after the authors might benefit from some kind
of heading or landmark to make it easier to get through all the author
names, although a "next paragraph" screen reader shortcut key would also

The links don't necessarily need a heading/landmark either since the TAB
key will take you to them. But you'd have to be listening for "DOI" (which
might be announced as separate letters, "D O I", or it might be announced
as a word, "doy") to know when the links for the next section start,
especially since the "abstract" link may or may not exist as the last
link. So an invisible heading might be helpful.

I didn't follow why having invisible headings would invalidate the citation.

(Note that from a WebAIM archive perspective for this discussion, your
attachments will be removed so there won't be a visual hint as to what your
citation formatting looks like. I sort of described it in my first