HTML entities

Tex textexin at
Mon Mar 15 13:25:26 CDT 2021

Hi Jukka,


However, you are quoting a doc that has been withdrawn. See the note at the top of the document in the “status of this document” section:


This document has been withdrawn


Many of the materials in this document are stale and out of date; the W3C is maintaining this version solely as a historical reference. This document was originally produced as a joint publication between the W3C and the Unicode Consortium. In 2016, Unicode withdrew publication as a Unicode Technical Report.”


(Frankly I thought some of its recommendations were questionable from the gitgo.)


If there are issues with how <sup> is implemented and renders, they should be fixed rather than adding what would be many stylized named entities, which would require the same code fixes.






From: Unicode [mailto:unicode-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jukka K. Korpela via Unicode
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2021 10:36 AM
Cc: via Unicode
Subject: Re: HTML entities


Marius Spix via Unicode (unicode at wrote:


², ³ and ⁴ are for compatibility reasons in plaintext applications. If you are already using HTML, you should prefer to use <sup>2</sup>, <sup>3</sup> and <sup>4</sup>.


This is a different issue, about the use of superscript characters, not about named entity references for them.

The document “Unicode in XML and other Markup Languages”
suggests the use of markup for superscripting in mathematical texts. but then says:
“However, when super and sub-scripts are to reflect semantic distinctions, it is easier to work with these meanings encoded in text rather than markup, for example, in phonetic or phonemic transcription. Otherwise, they would require markup in the middle of words, and  they may also be inadvertently changed to normal style text, when exporting to plain text.”

On the practical side, using superscript digits almost always produces better typographic quality than the use of markup like <sup>, which is generally implemented in a simplistic manner (some vertical alignment and reduced font size), often resulting in uneven line spacing unless you take some precautions. This applies to text processing software, web browsers, etc.; typesetting tools for mathematical texts are a different issue, and the problem hardly arises there. – You can see this if you compare <sup>2</sup> and &sup2; in any browser.


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