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Technique F48:Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1 due to using the pre element to markup tabular information



This technique relates to 1.3.1: Info and Relationships (Failure).


This document describes a failure caused by use of the HTML pre element to markup tabular information. The pre element preserves only visual formatting. If the pre element is used to markup tabular information, the visually implied logical relationships between the table cells and the headers are lost if the user cannot see the screen or if the visual presentation changes significantly.

Instead, the HTML table element is intended to present tabular data. Assistive technologies use the structure of an HTML table to present data to the user in a logical manner. This structure is not available when using the pre element.


Example 1: A schedule formatted with tabs between columns

         Monday   Tuesday     Wednesday      Thursday         Friday
9:00	          Meet with Sam
10:00    		      Dr. Williams   Sam again        Leave for San Antonio

Example 2: Election results displayed using preformatted text

                                                   M R E     I
                                                    A . L     T
                                              M L    R   B     E
                                               I A    Y   E     -
                                                K N        R     I
                                                 E G        T     N
                                                -----   -----   -----
         0001 TOWN OF ALBION WDS 1-2               22      99       0
         0002 TOWN OF BERRY WDS 1-2                52     178       0
         0003 TOWN OF BLACK EARTH                  16      49       0
         0004 TOWN OF BLOOMING GROVE WDS 1-3       44     125       0
         0005 TOWN OF BLUE MOUNDS                  33     117       0
         0006 TOWN OF BRISTOL WDS 1-3             139     639       1
         0007 TOWN OF BURKE WDS 1-4                80     300       0
         0008 TOWN OF CHRISTIANA WDS 1-2           22      50       0



  1. Check to see if the pre element is used
  2. For each occurrence of the pre element, check whether the enclosed information is tabular.

Expected Results

  • If check #2 is true, then this failure condition applies and the content fails the Success Criterion.
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