HTML and CSS Reference
Text-related HTML/XHTML markup tags comprise the richest set of all
in the standard languages. That's because the original languageHTMLe-
merged as a way to enrich the structure and organization of text.
HTML came out of academia. What was and still is important to those
early developers was the capability of their mostly academic, text-orien-
ted documents to be scanned and read without sacrificing their capability
to distribute documents over the Internet to a wide diversity of computer
display platforms. (Unicode text is the only universal format on the global
Internet.) Multimedia integration is something of an appendage to HTML
and XHTML, albeit an important one.
Also, page layout is secondary to structure. We humans visually scan
and decide textual relationships and structure based on how it looks;
machines can only read encoded markings. Because documents have
encoded tags that relate meaning, they lend themselves very well to
computer-automated searches and to the recompilation of contentfea-
tures very important to researchers. It's not so much how something is
said as what is being said.
Accordingly, neither HTML nor XHTML is a page-layout language. In fact,
given the diversity of user-customizable browsers, as well as the diversity
of computer platforms for retrieval and display of electronic documents,
all these markup languages strive to accomplish is to advise , not dictate,
how the document might look when rendered by the browser. You can-
not force the browser to display your document in any certain way. You'll
hurt your brain if you insist otherwise.
2.6.1. Appearance of Text
For instance, you cannot predict what font and what absolute size8- or
40-point Helvetica, Geneva, Subway, or whateverwill be used for a par-
ticular user's text display. OK, so the latest browsers now support stand-
ard Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and other desktop publishing-like fea-
tures that let you control the layout and appearance of your documents.