Balisage Paper: Presentational Markup: What's going on?

Allen H. Renear, Bonnie Mak

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We explore some theoretical questions concerning the renditional features common in textual communication. By renditional features we mean such things as the arrangement of text on the page and text size or style, whether in manuscript or printed documents. We refer to these features as presentational markup, using that phrase with its original meaning: the renditional features themselves, not the codes intended to generate these features when processed by computer software. Presentational markup plays a critical role in textual communication as these renditional features directly support the recognition of content in the final phase of communication. Yet it is descriptive markup that has dominated the attention of the SGML/XML markup theorists. We take a few steps towards rebalancing this distribution of attention. We consider whether presentational markup should be considered a category of document markup alongside descriptive and procedural markup, summarize the origin of variant meanings of “presentational markup, ” and describe several approaches to understanding the role of presentational markup in the communication of information. Although we focus on textual communication, much of the discussion about renditional features applies to oral communication as well; renditional features exist in speech as well as in writing. These are the preliminary ruminations of a Balisage “Late Breaking” contribution - we are inviting discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of Balisage
Subtitle of host publicationThe Markup Conference 2021
PublisherMulberry Tecnologies, Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781935958222
StatePublished - 2021
EventBalisage: The Markup Conference 2021 - Washington, United States
Duration: Aug 2 2021Aug 6 2021

Publication series

NameBalisage Series on Markup Technologies
ISSN (Print)1947-2609


ConferenceBalisage: The Markup Conference 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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