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Macro-Typography of Deeds: 5

The Sub-List

An alternative is to interrupt the flow of the sentence every time a new name comes up, and set that name indented and bulleted. This helps the eye skip quickly through the salient points of the text, for example:

This is desirable because not only is it easier to read, but the subsection (about Anna Maria Jane) could also be given a documentary ID and quoted entire by other software functions.

The convenient structure in HTML for creating these break points is the <UL>. Obviously these asides in the will are only snippets of text, not true sub-lists in the semantic sense, but it is legitimate to adapt HTML's limited family of elements to other uses. The <UL> elements should be given a class name that makes it easy to convert them to some more fitting XML element at a later date.

The <UL> (usually consisting of only one item) should be nested within the bequest-level, next-higher <LI> as in this example: <LI> Stephen </LI>
<LI> George <UL> <LI> Anna Maria Jane </LI> </UL> </LI>
<LI> George </LI>

Notice that the subcategory is best slotted inside the list item, not in the "empty space" between two list items.

One peculiarity of HTML that frequently causes difficulties in both information design and macro-typography is that lists cannot be nested inside paragraphs, despite the fact that many lists occur in mid-sentence. This situation was remedied in 2002 with XHTML 2, but that will not be a usable mark-up standard until it is embraced by all the main browsers.

The traditional way of coping with this was to chop a sentence up into multiple <P> elements like this: <P>Take a bowl and mix</P>
<LI><UL>two eggs</LI>
<LI>one cup of flour</LI></UL>
<P>with a wooden spoon.</P>

That is structural nonsense. For will transcripts using the HTML 4 and XHTML 1 standards it will generally be more convenient to dispense with the <P> elements altogether. Divide the whole will text into ad-hoc <DIV> sections and fit the headings, plain text and lists inside these.

In the example, each subsidiary <DIV> has the class name "deedsection". The list of bequests is a subset of one of these <DIV> sections, and begins directly, without any top margin. There is not a single <P> in the entire transcript.

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Examples: • HeadingsTwo Sub-HeadingsThree Sub-HeadingsThe Core as ListSingle-Item ListExpanding TextRun-In HeadingsCompilationVariation