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Subject: Behavior of <q> element


As requested at today's TC meeting, I'm sending a summary of the <q> issue
and resolution.

The issue is that the DITA specification is silent on whether authors or
rendering tools / style sheets should add quotation marks when using the
<q> element. As noted earlier, the latest draft of XHTML 2 says that
authors or style sheets should add quotes; a draft of HTML 5 appeared to
suggest that quotes should be added by the author inside of <q>.

After speaking to IBM's representatives on the XHTML and HTML groups, we've
found that the most recent HTML 5 draft actually states that quotation
marks must not be added by the author; instead they must be added by user
agents (such as stylesheets). Don Day, as chair of the DITA TC, is going to
write to the XHTML / HTML groups pointing out that they appear to be
diverging on the <q> element, in that XHTML still allows authors to enter
the characters; both allow for stylesheets.

Given our lack of stance on this in the past, and our statements of
backwards compatibility, I'm reluctant to say DITA authors must or must not
do something. So, based on our understanding of the X/HTML path, and based
upon expectations expressed on this list, I would suggest the following:
The DITA specification should recommend that authors do not add quote
punctuation on their own, and that rendering tools or stylesheets should
add appropriate styling (such as locale-specific quotation marks).

Thanks -

Robert D Anderson
IBM Authoring Tools Development
Chief Architect, DITA Open Toolkit

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