In the original HTML 3.2 spec,
<small> was a purely presentational element, the opposite to
<big>: collectively, the tags literally made text smaller and larger.
<big> was dropped from the HTML5 specification - its effect can be easily replicated by using
font-size in CSS - but
<small> was retained, and redefined to have a purpose.
<small> is used to demark fine print on a page. Possibilities include:
- copyright notices
- legal disclaimers
- licensing information
A typical example would wrap
<small> text in a
<footer> <small>Copyright © 2015 Soulless Corporation</small> </footer>
<small> might be considered the inline equivalent of the
<aside> element. Visually,
<small> does what it has always done: it makes text one size smaller (large text becomes medium size, already small text becomes extra-small, etc), but that’s almost immaterial: text can be made to look however you want with CSS.
<small> is about meaning, not appearance.
Small text should still be legible: it’s important to compensate smaller text with an improved contrast ratio and/or paying attention to
Photograph of writing on the stairwell of the Corean Pavilion by Costantino Beretta, licensed under Creative Commons
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