Re: ACTION re: HTML 3: Too many tags!

Scott E. Preece (
Thu, 27 Jul 95 09:36:39 EDT

From: Peter Flynn <>
| Scott Preece wrote:
| > Actually, what I find wrong about CODE is that it doesn't say what kind
| > of code. The use of fixed-width, typewriter-style type for displaying
| > code is the worst idiocy in common typographical practice.
| I disagree strongly. I wouldn't like to count the number of times I've
| had calls from users trying to follow examples in manuals which use
| non-typewriter (or worse, mixed-font) faces for code samples. Typically
| the users are in despair, saying "I'm trying to type in the example,
| but every time I try to type a word in bold or italics, it won't let
| me|rejects what I type|beeps at me". The assumption that users,
| particularly novices, are capable of automatic interpretation of the
| semantics of font usage in examples is, I'm afraid, wholly false. It
| is utterly crucial that examples should be wholly unambiguous, even if
| this does mean catering for the less able reader, and unfortunately
| right now this means lowest-common-denominator fixed-width TTY.

I confess, my bias is towards presenting code so that people who know how to read code can understand it as quickly and as completely as possible. I'm not usually trying to present snippets for them to use as given. There's at least some literature on this (notably Baecker and Marcus, Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs).

And, of course, if you have style sheets or reasonable control of the browser, it's trivial to turn the styled presentation into an unstyled presentation, while it's relatively difficult to go the other way.


scott preece
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