HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.x
This technique relates to Success Criterion 1.3.1: Info and Relationships (Sufficient as a way to meet an unwritten technique).
The objective of this technique is to provide a brief overview of how data has been
organized into a table or a brief explanation of how to navigate the table. The
summary attribute of the
table element makes this information available to people who use screen readers; the information
is not displayed visually.
summary is useful when the table has a complex structure (for example,
when there are several sets of row or column headers, or when there are multiple groups
of columns or rows). The
summary may also be helpful for simple data tables
that contain many columns or rows of data.
summary attribute may be used whether or not the table includes a
caption element. If both are used, the
summary should not
In HTML5 the
summary attribute is obsolete. Assistive technologies may or may not continue to support
the attribute. Authors should consider alternatives and only use with caution.
Although WCAG 2 does not prohibit the use of layout tables, CSS-based layouts are
recommended in order to retain the defined semantic meaning of the HTML
elements and to conform to the coding practice of separating presentation from content.
However, if a layout table is used, then the
summary attribute is not used or
is null. The purpose of a layout table is simply to control the placement of content;
the table itself is “transparent" to the user. A
summary would “break" this
transparency by calling attention to the table. A null
summary="") on layout tables is acceptable. See F46: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1 due to using th elements, layout tables for details.
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- HTML 4.01 summary attribute
For each data table:
- If a
summaryis present, check that the
summaryattribute describes the table's organization or explains how to use the table
- If both a
summaryattribute and a
captionelement are present for the data table, check that the
summarydoes not duplicate the
- #1 and #2 are true.