Typography, semantics and document structure
In Semantic Typography: Bridging the XHTML gap, Mark Boulton explains how to turn a visual design into a semantically marked-up document by taking a real-world example and breaking it down into structural elements. Mark’s article is a good introduction to semantics and document structure for anyone who hasn’t already started thinking structurally when marking up documents.
For some reason, the whole concept of document structure and actually using structural elements like headings and lists seems alien to most content authors I have met. And if authors aren’t semantically structuring documents in their word processors, they sure won’t do it before publishing their documents on the web.
I’ve been thinking a bit about why most people don’t structure their word processing documents properly, and I’m not sure why that feature is so underused. It could be a usability problem with word processors though – it’s often less obvious how to use styles properly than how to change the font and text size.