Differences between HTML & CSS specifiers

I read that I shouldn’t use b or i to bold or italicize, but rather use CSS properties of strong and em. Can you please explain why and tell me if I should ever use b or i? When, then,will this rule apply?
I am literally just beginning to learn and would appreciate an explanation.


You can have different CSS for different media. One such is where the browser reads out the page. While you can apply emphasis or strong emphasis when saying something you can’t say a word in bold or italic.

There are conventions for particular things to appear in italic or bold when written down.

For example:
Ship names - “The Queen Mary sailed last night.”
Foreign words and Latin taxonomy “Homo sapiens
References to a specific word “The word the is an article”

There are presumably some instances where there is a convention of using bold text but I can’t think of any at the moment.

That definitely makes sense. I wasn’t certain as to why there were two ways to do the same thing, but I see that they are not really the same at all. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks, felgall!

I use strong and em when I want the text to be read out with actual emphasis. So these two have actual meaning, being more than just visual, so to speak. But as felgall says, sometimes there are purely visual conventions that you don’t actually read out with emphasis. Another example would be foreign words, like ad hoc, which are often italicized by convention, but which you wouldn’t actually emphasize when speaking them. That’s when I use b or i.

Often in articles there’s a convention to make technical terms either bold or italic—especially the first time they are mentioned. That would be a good time for b or i, though they often end up as strong or em just because that’s how things like WordPress output them (which is a pity).

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