From: Jukka K. Korpela (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 08:52:42 CST
On Mon, 31 Oct 2005, Kenneth Whistler wrote:
> I think it is clear that the better, more generic representation
> of superscript and subscript elements is via styles.
I'm a bit surprised at the unconditionality of the statement, but
I guess it's to be understood in a proper context and with suitable
The use of superscript or subscript characters versus formatting or
styles or markup is a rather complex question, and I think the
best answer is "it depends". In particular, formatting, styles,
or markup may get lost in many ways - simple cut and paste may
turn 2<sup>2</sup> to 22. Similarly, in a phonetic notation,
k<sup>h</sup> turns to wrong information if the superscripting is
removed. On the other hand, changing 1<sup>st</sup> to 1st
should not disturb anyone, except perhaps esthetically.
> And this
> is the case, *even* though there are encoded characters for
> superscript and subscript digits. Those are compatibility
> characters in the first place, and in the second are
> *convenience* characters for the one-off usages of occasional
> superscripts in text.
The use of subscript and superscript characters is surely limited
by many factors, including
- their limited repertoire
- the even more limited repertoire that is supported by commonly
- impossibility of using nested subscripts or superscripts
- impossibility of affecting the vertical position of the subscript
or superscript, except very coarsely by the choice of the font.
Yet, within their limitations, they do a fine job. You can use
them in many contexts where formatting, styles, or markup cannot
be used, or should not be used.
-- Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
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