Text Markup – Literacy or Arts ?

Pupils have to learn tiny nuances of formal correctness when orthography is on the curriculum. But for eye-catching text properties such as bold and italic, bullets and link annotations (or macro markup and micro markup) there seems to be no advice or guidelines. And while readability is the main rationale of our complicated orthographic rules for capitalizing many words, readability is even more affected by text markup.

So I was curious to see if there is at least some rudiment of guidance in our Baden-Württemberg’s “education standards” where new media literacy is a big thing. But I found almost nothing about text markup or typographic design.

It seems that nobody feels really responsible for that: The IT teachers and the Arts teachers trust that the German lesson teachers will address it, but these seem to think that this is Arts:

“With the new media, one can gear into text design in a playful manner, and can thus give the content a different form (type area, font, color).” (New Media in German lessons, by the State Institute for Education and Instruction).

The artistic form of a text is IMO greatly overrated today. Increasingly often I have to observe how students suffer to make their presentation optically perfect, and thus have no energy left for the content. And I dismay that even young pupils have to deliver such ever more ambitious presentations. When I handed in my thesis, it was handwritten using a pencil.

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