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  1. #1
    killall -9 lusers
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    Should titles be underlined?

    If I follow the rules of proper grammar, then anywhere I refer to a title (i.e. of a book) in the text of my site that title should be underlined. However, this seems to cause a usability problem in the case that I do not also intend to link to that title because the underline makes it *look* like a hyperlink.

    So should I disregard proper grammar and just wrap the title in 'em' tags, or should I disregard usability for the sake of being 'correct'?

  2. #2
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    i'll hazard a guess and say that the rules of proper grammar never envisaged the internet (and, specifically, conventions of hyperlinks), therefore i would say that - for usability's sake - they are bent (or should we say "updated" ?), and that you don't use underlines. but that's my personal opinion of course...
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    SitePoint Addict mixmastermidori's Avatar
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    I agree with Redux. I tend to bold or italicize titles, even though I know it's incorrect.

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    I tend to bold them too or more precisely use <strong>. As Redux says, the rules of grammar don't really come into play on the internet. Underlines will confuse people so from a usability point of view I would never underline my titles.
    Actually just thinking of titles and my use of <strong>, I recently read that I should be using <h1> <h2> etc, I can't remember the exact reason, could someone enlighten me?

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    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Daz

    Actually just thinking of titles and my use of <strong>, I recently read that I should be using <h1> <h2> etc, I can't remember the exact reason, could someone enlighten me?
    no, you shouldn't. h1, h2 etc denote headings in your page, i.e. "titles" of various sections on your page. they're there to give semantic structure to your page's content. they would make no sense at all if used to mark up book titles etc.
    re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Re: Should titles be underlined?

    Originally posted by KillAllDash9
    If I follow the rules of proper grammar, then anywhere I refer to a title (i.e. of a book) in the text of my site that title should be underlined.


    Looks like two different things are being talked about here!

    @ Daz, for "titles" or "headings" on your page, you absolutely should be using <h1-6> (although I've never needed to go deeper than 3) instead of <strong>. It will help your search engine weighting, the page will make more sense to various access devices, and you can make it all pretty and consistent with .css .
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  7. #7
    killall -9 lusers
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    Thanks for the opinions. That's pretty much how I felt about it too, but confirmation of that is always nice. :-)

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    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mixmastermidori
    I agree with Redux. I tend to bold or italicize titles, even though I know it's incorrect.
    Actually, italicising book titles is correct. Italicise away!

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    It appears that the MLA does neither online??
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    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheOriginalH
    It appears that the MLA does neither online??
    What do you mean? It italicises the book title:

    Since its publication in 1985, the MLA Style Manual has been the standard guide for graduate students, teachers, and scholars in the humanities and for professional writers in many fields.
    This is the way I've been doing it and I've been seeing it for at least a dozen years - both online and in university. Underlining isn't as frequently used anymore.

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Indeed it does, missed that - I was looking at the top of the page.

    You saw italicised referencing online in 1991 ?

    Not correcting you btw - I don't know myself, and obviously the MLA while popular, is certainly not the definitive referencing resource...
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  12. #12
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheOriginalH
    You saw italicised referencing online in 1991 ?

    Not correcting you btw - I don't know myself, and obviously the MLA while popular, is certainly not the definitive referencing resource...
    Actually I didn't specify 1991, but yes, online then as well. There was online life before HTML, you know. Maybe I should have said 1987 to really throw you. I think there were control chars. for italics back then too. On my BBS we used them instead of underlining whenever possible.

    And it's not just an MLA standard. Italics are preferred over underlining in the print world too, so it's a natural jump.

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    Posts rarely lloydi's Avatar
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    I was assistant editor for a publication for three years, and our house style, which was based on the Economist style guide, was to italicise/ize. I think it's pretty standard convention.

    Never heard of underlines being used for book/film/theatre play titles, ever.
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  14. #14
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Aren't you supposed to use the <cite> tag when citing a source?

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    Posts rarely lloydi's Avatar
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    Originally posted by vgarcia
    Aren't you supposed to use the <cite> tag when citing a source?
    Absolutely right, but I'll be honest, I don't remember how good the support for this tag is. Probably not very ...
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  16. #16
    The Madness Out of Time Arkham's Avatar
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    Originally posted by lloydi
    Never heard of underlines being used for book/film/theatre play titles, ever.
    It's standard in academic writing. Shorter works are usually in quotes, book titles underlined.

  17. #17
    Posts rarely lloydi's Avatar
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    Aaaah, well I've learnt something new today!
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  18. #18
    EGADD
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    Aren't italics accepted as much as the underline is?

  19. #19
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    Perhaps it takes someone of a certain age to even know this, but underlining title started back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth and manuscripts were prepared on old-fashioned typewriters. Typewriters are unable to italicize type, so underlining was used instead.

    In those days, you would send your typed copy to a printer to have it typeset. To the typesetters, when bits of copy were underlined, it meant, "italicize this." The typesetters would automatically italicize anything that was underlined in the manuscript.

    So: Underlining was used for titles in typed copy, and italicizing was used for titles in typeset copy. Today, we never need to underline anything, except links.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Enthusiast bohtieque's Avatar
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    Whoo-hoo! Something I KNOW about. I back up Sonjay's great explanation. Underlining is sometimes referred to as the poor man's italic--those who didn't have enough money to get something typeset had to resort to underlining.

    My only concern it that some italic type is difficult to read, so make sure you look into that when selecting type.

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    SitePoint Member lkantrov's Avatar
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    Red face Underlines - Just Say No!

    I think underlining non-links on the web is almost ALWAYS bad.

    Some backup from the Yale Web Style Guide:
    "Underlined text is a carryover from the days of the typewriter, when such options as italics and boldface were unavailable. In addition to its aesthetic shortcomings (too heavy, interferes with letter shapes), underlining has a special functional meaning in Web documents. Most readers have their browser preferences set to underline links. This default browser setting ensures that people with monochromatic monitors or people who are color-blind can identify links within text blocks. If you include underlined text on your Web page it will certainly be confused with a hypertext link."

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard Ian Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lloydi
    Absolutely right, but I'll be honest, I don't remember how good the support for this tag is. Probably not very ...
    I don't see why not, it's been around since the age of the dinosaurs.

    ~~Ian

  23. #23
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Hence one of the reasons why the 'underline element' was deprecated in favour of using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to underline textual data.

    Talking about something that was there before the dinosaurs microbes; naming microbes in Latin if written by hand, you must underline the microbes Latin name, if you use a modern word-processor you always italicise the microbes Latin name.


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