Peer to Peer: The Essence of Structure
Text structuring provides an excellent example of why the goal to separate document structure from presentation rules is so important.
If you add elements to text in a haphazard way, such as using paragraph tags to create white space; using headers out of numeric order; and using font elements, the document has no structure. An h1 header was labeled a level one with the precise goal in mind to label the content within the element as being a header of first-level priority, an h2 a second-level priority, and so on. This hierarchy is part of what creates structure. Add to that properly formatted paragraphs, line breaks, the reduction or elimination of font tags, and the use of lists to organize a document, and you get to the heart of what a structured document is all about.
When you structure documents using the hierarchical and logical methods described previously, that document becomes much more accessible not only to those with disabilities, but also for alternative devices such as PDAs, pagers, mobile phones, and so on. Follow these general guidelines, and your pages will be extremely flexible in how they can be used. What's more, you'll have returned to the original vision of the Web: a platform-dependent means of sharing documents.