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2. General article element

A general article has the most flexible content model, allowing most blocks, a glossary and sections, with those able to contains their own.

General articles and their sections and subsections can have up to 50 blocks, such as paragraphs, lists, tables or asides, and one glossary. An article can have up to 20 sections with up to nine subsections in each. Thus a general article can have a lot of content but still be relatively easy to navigate around. While an article can have so much content, actually filling it with that much may overload a web server's capacity to serve it.

Sections and subsections can have numbering before the heading in the form of 1 and 1-1 respectively, which can be useful for terms and conditions pages or other legal instruments. They are set by the Numbering attribute on the Article element.

Section / subsection

Sections and subsections allow for hierarchical information presentation.

Sections and subsections help to break up a detailed article into readable blocks that can be individually accessed. They are what can make a body of knowledge usable as a reference. The menu bars are created when the page is rendered and facilitate rapid discoverability and access. There is a menu bar for the article under its header with links to all its sections, and one for a subsection under its heading with links to all its subsections.

Sample section details are:
Sample section detailsabcd
The section details are:
a2 Section 3Article/section child number before, and the element's child status after
bHeadingHeading for the section. Cannot be changed to one that already exists
cNavigationShort version of the Heading to be used in the menu bar links
dIntroductionDescription of what the section is about

The identifier used by links is derived from the master locale Heading by converting it all to lowercase, then converting each sequence of non-alphanumeric characters to a single -. For example, the identifier for this section is section-subsection. The derived identifier must also be unique within the article. Subsection identifiers must be unique to their parent section, but will be prefixed with the parent section's identifier and -- in links to make them unique to the article.

Like most introductions, those for sections and subsections are meant to be indicative of the content, so that a reader can decide whether the content is useful for them, but it should not be relied upon for critical information, as it will probably be ignored after that decision is made. Thus any important information should be after the introduction, with any critical information that defines how the section should be viewed put in the first in-line block after the introduction.

Each section or subsection can have a basic aside, consisting of a heading and a paragraph, or introduction and image and an optional quote. These can provide some simple visual embellishment to make a page more varied and attractive. However, images in basic asides cannot have labels, so cannot link to inline tables or lists.


While a glossary structure in a general article could be used for terms, it is more useful than that.

A general article can have a hierarchical structure with its section / subsections. This gives an opportunity to use a glossary at each level, allowing a three-tier descriptive listing. Each entry can be enhanced with a picture. The obvious use for this is with a company staff listing, with management in the base article area, division heads and support staff in their own sections, and section heads and their staff in subsections under them.

The structure can be extended downwards and laterally by linking to further such articles, and combined with being allowed up to 20 entries in a glossary, quite sophisticated or voluminous structures can be easily accommodated.

Note that the glossary entries also have link target identifiers derived from their headings and those must be unique at their level, meaning that sections/subsections and glossary entries cannot have headings with the same identifier at the same document level.

Generally, when glossaries are used, they form the main structure of the body content, with any blocks before them helping to provide context. Of course, being such a significant structure, they cannot have other blocks after them because of the difficulty of telling whether following content is part of the last entry or not. Hence, the only structures allowed after them are the more significant-looking section / subsection elements.

There are some functional limitations of glossaries in a general article compared to a standalone glossary article, being that they don't:

  • Allow more than 20 entries.
  • Have a navigation bar providing links to every fifth entry.

None of these limit the utility of the entries themselves, which still allow formatting and links in their descriptions.


As a semantic element, an aside is still a topic of debate as to what it is meant to contain.

An aside is offset to the side from the main flow of an article, indicating that it might be able to be safely ignored. Certainly, the preponderance of pages with advertising down the side has predisposed readers to ignoring anything that is not obviously part of the main flow. This makes putting anything in an aside that might be important rather precarious.

As Smallsite Design does not allow any third-party ads, readers will ascertain fairly quickly that asides are more likely to contain some useful information relevant to the article. Some sites have put loosely-related content, like related articles in asides, but as Smallsite Design provides a separate area at the end of article for those, readers will further expect asides to be more closely related to the article itself.

Asides have been used for tangentially-related information, but Smallsite Design allows footnotes which are better suited for that, especially since they are bidirectionally linked to the specific text of the article to which they refer.

So, given that many of the uses for which asides have been used are catered for by better-suited elements, what does that leave asides for? For that, look to that an aside is walled off to the minor side of the main text, indicating that it is of likely of lesser importance or less tightly-coupled to the main text.

That leaves asides to be used for:

  1. a.A picture or short video of the author, or something about them.
  2. b.Significant quotes from the main text.
  3. c.An image that is related to the text but not critical to its understanding.
  4. d.Audio, video or presentation that is optional for the reader to use as an experiential aspect of the description in the main text.
  5. e.An image with labels for which a table or list provides descriptions. This may be stretching the loosely-related criterion, but it does allow them to be side-by-side, especially if the image is long.

In any case, keep the content of an aside to only one aspect or topic to avoid it becoming too much of a distraction, which might detract from the article itself. It should only ever be considered a supplement, otherwise its content should be in the main flow of the article, perhaps in its own section or subsection.

  • Inline element
  • Diagram element
  • Sequence element
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