What HTML tag should I use, <b> or <strong>?
Just a quick question: as I'm figuring out HTML, I've learned that "<b></b>" will make the inner text bold, but why are we seeing "<strong>" being used these days? Is there a difference?
While you would think that something so rudimentary as the markup language for Web pages wouldn't be a place where you'd find great controversy, in fact there are two different quite fervent camps in site design that are represented in this debate. What we're talking about is whether markup should be functional or whether it should be presentation-based.
If you were on the functional side, you would say that when you're writing content for online publication, you want to simply note how that element relates to the content overall. So "<cite>" for citations, "<a>" for anchor text (hypertext links), and so on. How it's rendered, how the tool that the reader is using to view your content, is up to their tool's preferences. Some users might prefer citations in yellow with a dark blue background, while others might want to simply have it underlined: it's "up to the browser".
In fact, when I teach web design classes, that's our mantra, because however much you tweak things, the user's tools, preferences and settings can and will doubtless change how they see your material.
Now, on the presentation side, designers would point out that while all of this is well and good with something like a citation, there's such a difference between bold and italic in terms of how you read and process the information on the screen that it's of great importance that the content producer have greater control over how it's displayed.
While functional designers would use "<strong>" and "<em>" for words that should be emphasized or "stronger", a presentation designer would eschew it completely and use "<b>" for bold and "<i>" for italics.
Which is right? Well, it's hard to say. If you like having more control over the presentation of your material, then the presentation approach is going to be a better match. If you want to focus on your content and let the reader (or, more accurately, their reading tool) do the work, then a more functional approach may be for you.
As it turns out, this is somewhat of a moot point given the rise of Cascading Style Sheets (or CSS). CSS brings a far greater level of sophistication to presentation markup and while it initially seems a lot more complicated, the greater power makes it well worth learning.
In CSS, however, the markup "<b>bold!</b>" changes rather dramatically to "<span style='font-weight:bold;'>bold!</span>". A lot more complex, but as you might guess, there are dozens of different transformations you can apply to text with CSS elements -- like wrapping the text with a thin border -- that just aren't even an option with HTML.
While I am a big fan of CSS and use it with astonishing frequency for even the most simple tasks, it's definitely more complicated and, more of a problem, many Web sites let you use rudimentary HTML where you can't use CSS. A great example is that most online forums and blogs allow "<b>" notation in your comments to let you emphasize words, but very few allow "<span>" to let you use the full power of CSS to really pretty up your prose.
Therefore it does behoove you to learn at least the dozen basic HTML markup tags for just those situations. In fact, I have a brief article on my Web site that gives you just this list, with a helpful explanation of each tag: Essential HTML tags bloggers need to know.
My recommendation for when you must use HTML? Use the presentation-based approach, not the functional approach.
In a word, "Go <b> go!"
✔ How to Create Predefined Google Image Search Links?
Thanks for the Amazon URL [see Creating Amazon Search Links]. That worked beautifully. In fact, I sent you $5.00 for coffee in thanks....✔ Can I embed a Facebook search box on my blog site?
I've seen your articles about how to add a Twitter or Google search box on a Web page, but I have a tougher...✔ Can I use CSS for drop shadows on my blog?
I want to give my site a bit of a facelift and add some neat graphical elements. One of which is drop shadows....✔ How can I embed interactive photo panoramas on my site/blog?
I read through your blog entry about how to take panoramic photos with iOS 6 and an iPhone 5 and got enthused. I've...✔ How can I create a Twitter search URL shortcut?
I'd like to add a few Twitter search links to my Web site. Is that possible, or does Twitter prohibit this sort of...
Let's stay in touch!
Sign up for my weekly AskDaveTaylor Newsletter and you'll receive even more tech and gadget help right to your inbox, along with exclusive news and industry updates. It's good stuff. I promise!
I do have a comment, now that you mention it!
Check This Out Too...
Look for Answers
All Our Categories
Apple iPad Help
Articles and Reviews
Auctions and Online Shopping
Blogs and Blogging
Building Web Site Traffic
Business and Management
Computer and Internet Basics
d) None of the Above
Google Gmail Help
Google Plus Help
Industry News and Trade Shows
iPhone and Cell Phone Help
iPod, Sony PSP and MP3 Player Help
Kindle Fire Help
Mac OS X Help
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shell Script Programming
Tech Support Video Help
The Writing Business
Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Network Help
Unix and Linux Help
Video Game Tips and Help
Windows PC Help
Find Me on Google+
ADT on G+