The specification by the Web standards group is the first step in allowing developers to use style sheets with their Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents. Style sheets let users define how a document is presented, specifying color, font, or font size, for example.
XML is touted as an industry-neutral language that has the potential to revolutionize the exchange of information between businesses in the same way that HTML has changed user interfaces.
The specification--called "Associating Style Sheets with XML documents"--lets developers use cascading style sheets, used to define presentation for HTML pages. Microsoft already supports the specification in Internet Explorer 5.0, while Netscape and Opera Software say they will support it in future versions of their Web browsers.
The W3C also is working on a style sheet format specifically for XML, called Extensible Stylesheet Language. Future technology will support presentation of audio, a W3C spokeswoman said.