Footnote recommendation against HTML5 spec

4 posts / 0 new
Last post

I'm very glad EPUB 3 includes a recommendation for footnoting, which is being picked up by reader software. However it does seem odd that it uses the aside tag to hold the footnote. I don't really mind this, but the HTML5 spec does explicitly say not to use that tag for footnotes; see http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/common-idioms.html#footnotes

As I say, I'm quite happy with the syntax, but I found the disjunct between HTML5 and EPUB here suprising, and wondered whether others were aware of it, and whether any future specifications are likely to converge.

I would counter that those are only some recommendations, not formal requirements of the HTML5 specification, so there isn't the normative weight you're suggesting.

The reason aside is recommended is that footnotes interspersed between content is not uncommon in books. For readers using AT, the aside semantics enables the notes to be recognized as secondary content (and possibly ignored) even if the footnote semantic is not recognized. If you just insert the footnote after the paragraph that references it, readers have to move manually past the notes each time in order to keep reading.

If you group all your footnotes at the end of each section (e.g., in a section or footer), you can apply the footnotes  (or rearnotes) semantic to that element, as seen in the first example you note. EPUB, like HTML5, is just making recommendations on best practice.

Have a look at the notes section in the structural semantics vocabulary for more information.

Hope this helps clarify.

Ah, I was getting mixed up with HTML5's rather strongly worded recommendation against using the *details* element for footnotes, here: http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/interactive-elements.html#the-details-element

I agree that aside fits better with the sorts of reading EPUB works are going to be subjected to. As you say, it makes the semantics clear, which is a clear win for ATs, and for other readers too.

Thanks for the explanation, and link to the notes section (which I hadn't found yet). I look forward to using EPUB in my projects a lot.

One little off-topic question: do you know why the Kindle doesn't natively support EPUB at the moment? It seems like such a sensible, widely adopted, universal standard.

I think the only answer to that question is that they must not see a business case in providing multiple ebook formats or supporting them. Anything else would be speculation.

They do ingest EPUB content from publishers, but that's not much help to the consumer.

Secondary menu