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Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] Question about <formalpara>

Hi Daniel,

On Friday 27 January 2006 21:07, Daniel Carrera wrote:
> Thomas Schraitle wrote:
> > I think, it should be different from a sect{1,2,3,4}/title so nobody
> > is confused by a formalpara/title.
> Yes. But I'm not sure how to make it different visually. I will set it
> up so that it doesn't appear on the Table of Contents or (if you are
> using OpenOffice) the Navigator. Just like a user would expect. But
> besides that, I don't know how else to differentiate it from a section
> title. A section 4 title already has the same font size as the text
> body, so a formalpara title will have to look the same.

I think I was not accurate enough in my first statement. There are some 
solutions but I am not sure which is the best. It depends also on the 
higher section levels. So let me explain it a bit:

1. Use bold for the title, "embedded" inside the text.
DocBook uses this style. This is a more "active" appearence. A reader will 
see it more easily and it attracts more attention.

2. Use italic, but same as point 1.
This would be a more "passive" appearence, so a reader will only notice if 
he reads this block.

3. Use small caps, but same as point 1.
It is like 1 and 2, but it can be problematic. Fonts with /real/ small 
caps are available but you can not expect that everybody have that 
installed. However it gives an interesting appearance, although it can be 
annoying. :)

4. Use a linebreak between title and para.
This can be dangerous and works only if the spaces after and before the 
title are senseful. A reader must easily recognize that it is a sort of a 
title and it belongs to the following text.

5. Use margins titles
Why not display the title in the margin region of the page? Sometimes you 
see it in some books. Probably only useful, if the title is not too long, 
otherwise it is a typographical desaster. :)

6. Use the same style than another section levels.
That can be interesting, but it can be confusing from a semantical point 
of view. Why does the author has choosen a formalpara instead of a sect4? 
I think a formalpara should not be (ab)used as a section element, but 
that's my interpretation of the DocBook spec.

I am not 100% sure, but I think point 1 or 2 might be a solution.

> [...]
> > Indentation /can/ work but it is also a typographical minefield. Can
> > you safely detect a formalpara/title if you have nested lists and
> > other text that is indented too? Indentation can lead to a very
> > disturbed left margin so the reader might be confused.
> Hmm... do you have any suggestions? I could make the title italic
> instead of bold (I make section titles bold). That would differentiate
> it without using indentation. Does that sound better to you?

Yes. :) I wouldn't use indentation, but that's my personal preference.

> Of course, I'm using OpenDocument styles. So all these things can be
> changed. But I want to pick reasonable defaults.

Perfect! :-)

> [...]
> DocBook 5. I don't want to try to support DocBook 4, too much work. But
> I guess I can use it to get visual cues.

Yes, that was my intention. It's stable and it works.


Thomas Schraitle

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