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Formats and Layout

Use Styles!

Styles are the single most effective technology for making web resources accessible. Styles determine how an object with a certain structure or attribute will be rendered on a screen, on paper, audibly, or how ever else the object is to be accessed. The structure of the object is determined separately and the style can be avoided in cases where it causes accessibility problems. correct tagging of content to identify the astructure of the content is essential to accessibility. Authors can then be as creative as they like using styles without fear of making the content inaccessible.

Style sheets are collections of styles that are associated with web resources. Style sheets are linked to from within the resource and there can be multiple style sheets. Users with special needs can have their own syle sheet and have this override the styles offered bvy the author of the content. This means that users have the ultimate control over how the content appears: the author still has control of what the content is.

Using styles means not tying layout or presentation markup to the objects within the resource. It may mean cleaning out 'direct formatting' of content and inserting 'style' informaiton in the head of the resource or on a separate style sheet.

See more information about how to use styles.

Some techniques

<br> and <nobr> tags force text to wrap or to not wrap .... Blank spaces do not happen in HTML but you can make such a thing with a style - do not use an image to make space....

use small and larger etc to change font size relatively - and do this in a style...

If you want a section rendered exactly as it is authored, use the <pre> tags but watch what happens to the line break following the beginning of the <pre> section - IE4 for the Mac alone adds a blank line if there is a carriage return after the <pre> tag, before the content starts. It is not wise to try to put other than plain text within a <pre> section. White spaces and line breaks will be preserved.

use <span> and <div> to get a lot of control over sections of the resource

use <sub> and <sup> to set text as subscript and superscript relative to other text - use styles to adjust size etc

Avoid using tables to layout content. instead, position objects.

Last updated: 8 March 2002