Final Note on Lists

Please don't fiddle with list layout and line spacing using extraneous tags (BR, FONT, etc); visible content which is inside the UL, OL, or DL tags, but outside of the LI, DD, or DT tags, is illegal as far as the latest standards are concerned. In HTML4 and XHTML, a list's appearance must be controlled using CSS. Having said this, in IE4 and Netscape4, list appearance control using CSS is buggy, so don't expect perfection. In the 5 and 6 browsers, the List/CSS situation is greatly improved.

Remember that lists are simple creatures, used strictly for making, well, lists. They are not a convenient source of bullet points and numbers which you can embed into HTML hither and yon. Many ignorant professionals use list elements in a greater tapestry of HTML code, with paragraphs, line breaks, images, etc cluttering up the bare list. As mentioned earlier, this sort of usage is illegal by current standards and must be avoided.

On many professional web sites, fake lists are created using tables for layout, not UL/OL/LI etc. Tables, however, do not identify list content as a LIST, which may mean future database incompatabilities.

My advice: Use of a LIST vs. use of a simulation of a list created with TABLES depends entirely on your client's desires. If your client is a stickler for exactly how things look, stick to tables for your list construction for the time being, and switch over to lists entirely when the version 4 browsers are no longer being supported. Otherwise, use lists in combination with CSS, and don't worry if the version 4 browsers display little variations in appearance from browser to browser; you'll be doing yourself a favor in the long run.

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