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HTML5: Structure, Syntax, and Semantics

Using the small element


From:

HTML5: Structure, Syntax, and Semantics

with James Williamson

Video: Using the small element

The small element is another element that has been around for quite some time but has been entirely redefined in HTML5 to something that will hopefully be a little bit more useful to authors. In HTML 4, the small element was simply defined as text that the browser should render in a small font, without giving it really any additional information or meaning. Now, in HTML5, the element has been redefined to represent legal text or other text that would be normally considered fine print. So I want to read a little bit from the specification here, you see.
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  1. 2m 20s
    1. Welcome
      48s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 32s
  2. 19m 7s
    1. A brief overview of HTML5
      3m 57s
    2. What's in the HTML5 specification?
      8m 17s
    3. Why do we need new structural elements?
      6m 53s
  3. 50m 33s
    1. Defining HTML5 documents
      5m 5s
    2. HTML5 syntax
      9m 14s
    3. The header element
      5m 22s
    4. The nav element
      4m 55s
    5. The section element
      4m 51s
    6. The article element
      4m 48s
    7. The aside element
      4m 13s
    8. The footer element
      4m 17s
    9. Content model overview
      7m 48s
  4. 35m 28s
    1. Understanding the outline algorithm
      3m 17s
    2. Creating document sections
      8m 25s
    3. Using headings properly
      9m 1s
    4. Using hgroup to override sectioning
      4m 17s
    5. Properly nesting structure
      7m 17s
    6. Sectioning roots
      3m 11s
  5. 58m 30s
    1. Organizing content
      4m 41s
    2. Planning document structure
      5m 47s
    3. Choosing the right structural element
      4m 43s
    4. Checking document outlines
      5m 27s
    5. Coding initial page structure
      5m 28s
    6. Using class and ID attributes
      5m 31s
    7. Structuring headers
      13m 13s
    8. Building navigation
      7m 1s
    9. Structuring footers
      6m 39s
  6. 1h 27m
    1. Working with figure and figcaption
      7m 12s
    2. Grouping content with asides
      3m 46s
    3. Using divs in HTML5
      5m 0s
    4. Working with lists in HTML5
      7m 10s
    5. The return of bold and italic
      5m 52s
    6. Citing works semantically
      6m 32s
    7. Using the address element
      5m 24s
    8. Using the small element
      4m 24s
    9. Using the mark element
      5m 16s
    10. Working with date and time
      11m 55s
    11. Creating block-level links
      8m 53s
    12. Understanding link relationships
      9m 28s
    13. Defining link relationships
      6m 23s
  7. 17m 22s
    1. Current browser support
      7m 38s
    2. Ensuring block-level display
      4m 3s
    3. Adding support for elements in older browsers
      5m 41s
  8. 3m 46s
    1. Additional Resources
      3m 46s

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HTML5: Structure, Syntax, and Semantics
4h 34m Beginner May 31, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Gain a deeper understanding of HTML5 and learn how to create richer, more meaningful web pages with structural tags and descriptive attributes. In this course, author James Williamson presents an overview of HTML5 and its development, defines the new tags and attributes, and discusses how browsers parse and display HTML5 content. The course also includes step-by-step instructions for constructing an HTML5 document with a header and footer, navigation, content groups, and formatting.

Topics include:
  • Defining basic elements
  • Exploring the content model
  • Creating document sections
  • Using hgroup to override sectioning
  • Using the proper nesting structure
  • Choosing the right structural element
  • Using class and ID attributes
  • Building navigation
  • Grouping content with asides
  • Using divs in HTML5
  • Creating block level links
  • Defining link relationships
  • Understanding current browser support
  • Adding support for elements in older browsers
Subjects:
Developer Web Web Design Web Foundations Programming Languages Web Development
Software:
HTML
Author:
James Williamson

Using the small element

The small element is another element that has been around for quite some time but has been entirely redefined in HTML5 to something that will hopefully be a little bit more useful to authors. In HTML 4, the small element was simply defined as text that the browser should render in a small font, without giving it really any additional information or meaning. Now, in HTML5, the element has been redefined to represent legal text or other text that would be normally considered fine print. So I want to read a little bit from the specification here, you see.

So you can see again I'm in the author view of the HTML5 specification, and I have navigated to the small element. I'll scroll down a little bit here, and you can see, the small element represents side comments such as small print. And again, we get a little note here that expounds on that: "Small print typically features disclaimers, caveats, legal restrictions, copyrights," things like that. Now, here is the other thing; the small element does not de-emphasize, or lower the importance of, text emphasized by the em element or marked as important by the strong element.

Really, all this is doing is identifying this as being fine print or a disclaimer. So it's a specific type of content, not necessarily the importance of it. Now, there is another thing in the description that I want to make sure gets passed along, and that is that the small element should not be used for extended spans of text. So no multiple paragraphs, no lists, no really complex structures inside of it. It's just supposed to be used for shorter runs of text where you have that one specific legal statement or a link or something of that nature.

So let's go back into our trails page and see where maybe the small element could be useful for us. So I went into the 05_08 folder and I opened up the trails.htm, and as you can probably imagine, as I scroll down, the footer element is really what we're looking at here. In our page footer, remember we have this line right here that says, "all content copyright 2011 Explore California. org, please read our terms of use." So what I'm going to do is I'm going to wrap the entire copyright and content information in the small tag.

Now it's still a small run of text, and it's still just inside the paragraph, so I'm not going to do multiple paragraphs here. I'm going to go inside the paragraph and just do small tag, so open the small tag there, close it there. So it's very much--you can think of it sort of as an inline element; it occurs over really small runs of text-- so, no complex structures. All right! I'm going to go ahead and save that and preview that in a browser. If I scroll down, we can see the effect that using the small element has had on our text visually.

The browser is reducing the size of that, so it does give the appearance of being fine print, if you will, while it's also passing along the information semantically. Now one of the things I'd like to do to this is I would also like the text to be represented in italics. So not only do I want it to shrink down a little bit, but I also want it to be italicized. Now, browsers aren't going to do that with small text automatically, so I'm going to have to do that through my styles. So I'm going to go back into my page, and I want to open up the main.css file. So I am going to go all the way down to the very bottom of my styles.

I'm just going to add a new selector right down here. I'm going to type in 'footer#pageFooter small'. So I'm saying any time you find text inside of a small element inside of a footer with ID of page footer, and really, we're just going to do a font style. And the font style that we're going to apply to this of course is italic because we want to italicize the text. Okay, perfect! So now, I'm going to save this, and let's go back in and I'm going to preview that once again in the browser.

Now, when I scroll down, I can see that not only is our fine print a little smaller, but it's also now italicized. So now, our legal data is not only displayed as fine print, but is being represented as fine print by our code as well. Now just keep in mind if you're going to use it that the small element is for smaller segments of text, not longer passages of text. And remember the restrictions on what type of content can go inside of it. So you want to make sure that you're using it with legal disclaimers, copyright data, anything that would normally be considered fine print.

So if you remember that, used in the right context, it's another element that can help us add meaning to our code.

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