Identifying notes and placing them at logical breaks in the text minimizes their impact on the reading of the primary text.
- Identify footnotes using the
- Group footnotes or endnotes at the end of a section or work in lists. [[WCAG-1.3.1]]
- Link note references to their notes. [[WCAG-1.3.1]]
- Backlink notes at the end of a section or work to their references. [[WCAG-1.3.1]]
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I use the
No. Use of the
doc-endnoterole is now deprecated due to a technical incompatibility with the core ARIA role module. ARIA does not allow roles from a module to satisfy the requirements of core roles, so although
doc-endnotebehaves like a list item, it technically does not fulfill the requirement that lists have list item children. That makes it invalid in both HTML list elements and as a child of the ARIA
While AT uses should not experience any problems if you have already used the role, it is best to avoid it moving forward to avoid errors in your content.
The role is also generally redundant. If a section of notes is identified using the
doc-endnotesrole, users and assistive technologies will understand the list within the section contains the endnotes.
Footnotes and endnotes have proven an impediment to the reading experience because they interrupt the narrative flow. When footnotes are placed immediately following the paragraph that references them, users had to manually navigate past them each time, as they are typically indistinguishable from text content. Even endnotes, grouped at the end of the section, require the user to jump past them.
The HTML structural elements, together with the
role attribute, provide a means of
alleviating this problem, by clearly marking individual footnotes and endnotes, and sections of them. Not
only does this allow accessible user agents to ignore the notes except when followed from their
referents, but it allows any user agent to handle them more intelligently (e.g., as pop-ups).
Notes that are grouped at the end of a section should be grouped using
(see Example 2). Lists allow users to move through them more effectively
(e.g., each list item number will typically correspond sequentially to the contained note number,
and users should have the ability to jump through more than one list item at a time when there are
Notes in Tables
If notes occur in a table, avoid placing them in a
tfoot element, as it is intended for
summaries of the columns. Footnotes can follow the table or can be grouped together with the table inside
figure. See the Tables section for an example.
Note references must be tagged using the HTML
a element to ensure users do not
have to visually locate the corresponding note.
sup element may be used to superscript note references, but it adds extra verbosity
(assistive technologies will announce the text is superscripted in addition to being linked).
vertical-align property can be set to superscript the
elements without the additional voicing (see Example 3).
Until there is greater support for announcing the
doc-footnote role, the
sup element provides some context for the note references. As support for the
role increases, however, the use of explicit superscripting will become redundant. At that
time, preference should be given to CSS formatting.