The Dual Emphasis Element | CSS-Tricks

<p>Back in the day, I had a boss who had a serious obsession with emphasis. This was before WYSIWYG editors, so I had to handcode all that markup nonsense. </p>
<p>I had a boss who absolutely <em>loved</em>, <strong>loved</strong>, <strong><em>loved</em></strong>, <strong><em><u>loved</u></em></strong> to emphasize words. </p>
<p>Writing all that markup was never enjoyable. It was a lot of effort, but more importantly, was it even necessary to overload the content with multiple emphases? Different HTML tags convey different levels of emphasis. Let’s discuss the distinction between <strong> and <em> tags, shall we? </p>
<p>The <strong> tag gives the content more weight, implying that it is significant or urgent. Think of it as a warning message. On the other hand, the <em> tag is meant to provide subtle emphasis, hinting at the reader to pay closer attention to the content. Here’s an example to illustrate the difference in emphasis: </p>
<p>I ate the <em>entire</em> plate of burritos. </p>
<p>I ate the entire <em>plate</em> of burritos. </p>
<p>Both sentences emphasize different words, and the emphasis changes the tone and meaning when read aloud. Therefore, the <em> tag is more suitable for expressing tone in writing. <strong>, on the other hand, does not alter the meaning of the sentence. </p>
<p>Now, let’s differentiate between visual emphasis and semantic emphasis. Sometimes, you may need to italicize content without changing its meaning. This can be achieved using the <i> tag, which purely applies visual italics. Other tags like <cite> and <address> serve specific purposes, such as indicating the source of information or marking up contact details. So, choose the appropriate tag to achieve the desired emphasis without altering the semantics of the content. The use of <b> tag for boldfacing is recommended instead of overusing <strong> for stylistic purposes. Headings already have a default bold style in most browsers, so additional emphasis is unnecessary. </p>
<p>There are situations where you may need to italicize text within already italicized content or add emphasis to already emphasized text. A common example is a blockquote. In such cases, use the appropriate tags for each level of emphasis to avoid nesting them. If necessary, CSS styles can be applied to handle unique scenarios. </p>
<p>Avoid nesting one form of emphasis inside another without a valid grammatical reason. One form of emphasis is usually sufficient, and it is important to choose the right tag based on the desired effect. Keep in mind that screen readers may announce emphasized content, but they do not give additional importance or significance to the markup. Therefore, nested emphasis does not provide any additional accessibility benefits. </p>
<p>However, if your boss insists on using all the emphasis tags, you can still achieve the desired effect. Use the appropriate HTML tags for each type of emphasis and utilize CSS styles to handle any inconsistencies. For example, you can assign specific styles to tags like <em> or <strong> when they contain nested <b> or <u> tags. Defensive coding can help ensure that the emphasis is visually consistent and that any potential errors are highlighted. </p>
<p>In conclusion, it’s important to understand the purpose and distinction of HTML tags used for emphasis. Choose the right tags based on their intended use, and avoid nesting emphasis tags without a valid reason. Keep in mind the visual and semantic impact of each tag and utilize CSS styles to handle any unique scenarios. Happy coding! </p>

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