Italics get used to express important semantic meaning, so unicode should support them

Harriet Riddle harjitmoe at
Wed Dec 16 08:50:56 CST 2020

> For those of us that can recall the exuberance of the XHTML movement,
> <i>, <b> and friends were all deemed to be insufficiently semantic and
> slated to be replaced by <em> and <strong>.  Of course, this was a
> distinction without a difference and now we just have extra tags that
> are more verbose and less literal.

Not strictly speaking—although <i> and <b> are back in vogue, <i> is now 
only supposed to be used for italics which set text apart in some other 
fashion as opposed to emphasising it (which should still be done with 
<em>).  The distinction may appear “without a difference” for 
graphically displaying text in visual clients, but they can represent 
considerably different tone changes when reading it out (a relevant 
consideration if you are writing, say, an aural client for the visually 
impaired), hence using these properly is /theoretically/ more 
accessible, though I do not know to what extent that is true in practice 
since there's bound to be a lot of deployed legacy, WYSIWYG or 
generated-from-Markdown-etc HTML which doesn't make this distinction, 
which might preclude relying on it.


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