About Block Formatting in HTML...
= Index DOT Html by Brian Wilson =

Justification | The Full Scope
A Special Generic Style | Other Block Elements
Related Sites
Main Index | Element Tree | Element Index | HTML Support History
Justification for Block Formatting
The main intent of SGML (and the derivative HTML language) is to be a device independent language for describing the content of documents. To accomplish this, it tries to divorce presentation rules from document content. Simple Block Formatting elements all introduce line-breaking behavior to their display while also assigning a semantic purpose to the content.

Block Formatting in HTML provides the means to render content in sections that are distinct both physically and often visually from other surrounding sections and content. Browsers should render Block Formatted sections with a line break before and after the content block in addition to any other styles applied. Character Formatting (the other main content formatting class of elements), on the other hand, will render visual changes in-place.
The Full Scope of Block Formatting
[<address>, <blockquote>, <center>, <Hx>, <p>, <pre>]
Other HTML element groupings also exhibit "Block" nature similar to that of the Block Formatting elements. All lists, table and form structures have the basic linebreaking behavior that is characteristic of Block Formatting in order to produce distinct regions of content. Discussion of these topics is best separated from Block Formatting concepts because these other element groupings are not meant to assign a simple semantic style to the content.

A Special Generic Block Style
The introduction of Style Sheets has added two new HTML elements to allow for generic situations where no specific HTML markup would be appropriate. The DIV element (and its companion Character Formatting element SPAN) carry no inherent semantic meaning assigned to its structure - the author can assign Style Sheet presentation properties as needed. Of course there is one inherent property given to DIV - the linebreak before and after its content.

Other Block Formatting Elements
[<marquee>, <multicol>, <hr>??]
I only recently decided to place these elements in this section, having moved them from the 'miscellaneous' section. Marquee and Multicol were both created by the browser companies and are not supported in any HTML standard, but they do exhibit the requirements necessary to be called Block Formatting elements. They define blocks of content, usually have some semantic meaning, and have an implied line break before and after the block. (Note: I also place HR in the "miscellaneous" category, but it is a vague element to define and it exhibits many "block" characteristics, so it seemed to deserve mention here.)

Related Sites
Official References
RFC 1866: The HTML 2.0 specification (plain text)
The web version of the HTML 2.0 (RFC 1866) specification
The HTML 3.2 (Wilbur) recommendation
[Includes all HTML 2 character elements and newer formatting elements in common use]
The HTML 4.0 Recommendation
[Includes all 2.0, and 3.2 elements plus many new features]
Cascading Style Sheets, Level 1
[Includes usage of DIV and SPAN]
Netscape Extensions to HTML 2.0
[Details CENTER element usage]
Netscape Extensions to HTML 3.0
[Includes ALIGN attributes of P and DIV]
Netscape 3.0 release notes
[Details the use of the MULTICOL element]
Internet Explorer Tag reference
[Details HTML 2.0, 3.2 and common extensions. Also details MARQUEE element]

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