3. Use markup and style sheets and do so properly.

Slide 4 of 17
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Mark up documents with the proper structural elements. Control presentation with style sheets rather than with presentation elements and attributes.

Using markup improperly -- not according to specification -- hinders accessibility. Misusing markup for a presentation effect (e.g., using a table for layout or a header to change the font size) makes it difficult for users with specialized software to understand the organization of the page or to navigate through it. Furthermore, using presentation markup rather than structural markup to convey structure (e.g., constructing what looks like a table of data with an HTML PRE element) makes it difficult to render a page intelligibly to other devices.

Content developers may be tempted to use (or misuse) constructs that achieve a desired formatting effect on older browsers. They must be aware that these practices cause accessibility problems and must consider whether the formatting effect is so critical as to warrant making the document inaccessible to some users.

At the other extreme, content developers must not sacrifice appropriate markup because a certain browser or assistive technology does not process it correctly. For example, it is appropriate to use the TABLE element in HTML to mark up tabular information. Doing so, and creating tables that transform gracefully (refer to guideline 5), makes it possible for software to render tables other than as two-dimensional grids.

Check Checkpoints for guideline 3.

Next slide: Guideline 4.

Introduction: Table-of-Contents Guidelines: Table-of-Contents Checkpoints: Table-of-Contents Examples: Table-of-Contents

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Chuck Letourneau & Geoff Freed

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Copyright © 2000 W3C