One of the main concerns with using tables for <dsc> display is that
it isn't friendly to screen readers for the blind. For federally
funded institutions, I believe it's technically illegal for sites not
to be accessible to screen readers. And I couldn't agree more that CSS
should be used for styling. However, what tables are meant to be used
for is to display tabular data. In the case of finding aids,
containers and their contents are tabular data. What we shouldn't be
doing is padding with empty cells in order to produce indentation for
embedded component levels. So, in your particular case you have other
issues contributing to an inability to use tables, but in general I
think using a table for the <dsc> is OK as long as we've got one row
per container, and use CSS instead of empty table cells to style the
levels embedded within the container.

EAD 2002 <dsc> to three-column table includes a CSS download, and I'm
sure one could easily take out the table from the XSL and still use
the CSS and the XSL that produces the various classes for controlling
styles. Maybe just turn trs into divs or paragraphs.

I would encourage everyone to follow Amy and others' example and
submit your stylesheets to the shared page
( so that
everyone can use them!

Creighton, if you are interested in implementing the collapsible
sections used in the Southern Historical Collection's Web display,
instructions for doing so can be found in this download from the EAD
Help Pages:


On Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM, Creighton Barrett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Thanks Joyce.  I will search the archives and look at that "EAD 2002 <dsc>
> to three-column table" again.  That Triangle Research Libraries Network
> example is interesting.  Even though the <dsc> content uses <div> tags, it
> looks like tables are being used to create the space for those <div> tags.
> The table issue primarily arose from our IT dept and problems they
> apparently create for our content management system.  This has mostly been
> resolved by using <div> instead of table cells, but the look and feel needs
> to be improved.  I guess I'm also of the mind that styling should be done
> with CSS and not HTML tables.  I am at least curious if it would be possible
> to do a "table-less" display where each part of a <co1> or <co2> is treated
> as a CSS element or class.  That way we wouldn't have to worry about things
> like alignment, font size, and margins in the XSLT.
> The Southern Historical Collection at UNC-CH is one I frequently look at for
> general usability, I do love those collapsible lists.  I'm also looking
> forward to seeing other examples list members are proud of!
> Cheers,
> Creighton Barrett
> Archives Assistant
> Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections
> On 4 February 2010 14:33, Joyce Chapman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> If you search the archives of this mailing list, a while back I asked for
>> information on displays that were not using tables for the <dsc> info, and
>> got several responses. The Triangle Research Libraries Network in North
>> Carolina has a great tabbed display for finding aids that uses <div> instead
>> of table cells for <dsc> content (example).
>> If the only reason you don't want tables is because it's
>> cumbersome/confusing to have so many empty cells, I wrote a stylesheet that
>> controls component-level display through CSS and uses a basic table, with
>> one or two columns for containers and a third column for all other content.
>> It's available here:
>> and it's called
>> "EAD 2002 <dsc> to three-column table."
>> As for innovative displays, off the top of my head I think the Southern
>> Historical Collection at UNC-CH has an aesthetically appealing and
>> user-friendly display (example), as does Yale (example), as does NCSU
>> (example). One thing I particularly like about all of these is the fixed
>> navigation (fixed left nav in the first two and tabbed browsing in the
>> third) so the user can always jump to another section of the finding aid
>> without going back to the top of the page. I'm sure there are a million more
>> good looking and user-friendly displays out there, and I'm looking forward
>> to seeing where other respondents point you!
>> Joyce
>> On Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 12:48 PM, Creighton Barrett <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>> > Our archives will also be revising our XSLT stylesheet and I would also
>> > appreciate seeing any examples that people are willing to share,
>> > particularly those that do not use tables to format file lists.
>> >
>> > Christie, if you are not already aware of it, there is a page for user
>> > contributed stylesheets on the EAD Help Pages
>> > (  It would be
>> > a
>> > good place to start.
>> >
>> > Cheers,
>> >
>> > Creighton Barrett
>> > Archives Assistant
>> > Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On 4 February 2010 13:17, Christie Peterson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Our archives has the opportunity to re-do our XSLT stylesheet for
>> >> converting EAD to HTML.  We know what our problems are with our current
>> >> stylesheet, but we're not quite sure what we want, so we're looking for
>> >> examples of good displays that we can give to the person who will be
>> >> creating the stylesheet.
>> >>
>> >> We're particularly interested in recent (i.e., created in the last 2-3
>> >> years) examples of EAD served up as HTML that have high usability,
>> >> and/or
>> >> that are innovative in design.  So please, let me know about any EAD
>> >> displays of which you are either particularly proud or jealous.
>> >>
>> >> Thanking you in advance for assistance,
>> >>
>> >> Christie
>> >>
>> >> --
>> >> Christie Peterson
>> >> Processing Archivist
>> >> Muskie Archives & Special Collections
>> >> Bates College
>> >> 70 Campus Avenue
>> >> Lewiston, ME 04240-6018
>> >> (t) 207-753-6918
>> >> (f) 207-755-5911
>> >
>> >
>> --
>> Joyce Chapman
>> NCSU Libraries Fellow
>> Metadata and Cataloging/
>> Digital Library Initiatives
>> [log in to unmask]

Joyce Chapman
NCSU Libraries Fellow
Metadata and Cataloging/
Digital Library Initiatives
[log in to unmask]