Glossaries and small caps

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Glossaries and small caps thread
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I’m working on a book with a glossary. Words in the glossary are set in small caps in the book (though they could have had another treatment, e.g. semantic italics). A couple questions: (1) How do small caps interact with screen readers? (2) How can I make these words jump out at screen readers as being items included in the glossary? This question would apply to any other treatment—for instance, if words were set in italics, screen readers would just pass them by. So how do you get them to not pass them by?

APLN Moderator

Hi krollans,

Thanks for this question! Ideally small caps should be formatted in EPUBs using CSS so that screen readers read them aloud correctly.

Glossaries should be marked up as definition list using <dl>, <dt> and <dd>. The reader will know they are in the glossary section based on the heading or label in that section. Additionally, the epub:type=”glossary” and role=”doc-glossary” should be noted in this section.

For individual glossary terms, the epub:type=”glossterm” can be noted. Please refer to the EPUB type to ARIA role authoring guide here:

The small caps hold no semantic meaning and are mainly decorative formatting, which doesn’t need to be indicated to screen readers, much like decorative images in EPUBs. Same for Italicized words—if they hold semantic meaning, use <em>, if they do not, use <i>.

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