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Section 508 Standards: Make Pages Style-Sheet Independent

Section 508 Standards: Subpart B -- Technical Standards: § 1194.22 Web-based intranet and internet information and applications.

(d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

Cascading style sheets provide a way to separate presentation from content because the visual presentation of a web page can be prescribed with style sheets while the content can be structured within the HTML. Style sheets should be used to add formatting and other typographic information to a web page, but they shouldn't be used to control HTML markup.

Although the following preferred practices are primarily WCAG Priority level 2, they should be part of every good web designer's style practices.

  • Style sheets should be used to control text color and sizing. Deprecated elements such as BASEFONT, and FONT size, color etc. should be avoided.
  • Heading elements (H1-H6) should be used to indicate document structure and not just to get quick font size changes.
  • The HTML elements BLOCKQUOTE, UL, DL & DT, and TABLE have their proper use in defining the structure of a document, but should not be used just to get a quick formatting boost. Use style sheets instead to for those simple formatting tricks.
  • Use relative rather than absolute units in markup language attribute values and style sheet property values. The use of "pt" and "cm" absolute CSS units should be avoided; instead use 'em' or percentage lengths in attribute and style sheet property values.
  • Use the list structure and list items (UL, OL, DL, LI) properly to create lists, not to provide formatting effects such as indentation.
  • Do not use quotation markup for formatting effects such as indentation. Mark up quotations with the Q and BLOCKQUOTE elements. Don't use them for formatting effects such as indentation.