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> I found my old draft in which I think I tried what James is asking
> about; I've posted a copy with the stylesheet so people can tell me if
> this is what they mean.
>

The use of clear will certainly stop relatively-positioned floated segs
trying to occupy the same space, but James' problem actually arose because
he wanted to use absolute positioning to constrain the marginal note always
to align with its reference point in the body text (in other words to avoid
the behaviour which "clear" plus relative positioning produces in problem
cases).

Where a marginal note is so long that it overlaps the absolutely-determined
start point of the next one, the only way to achieve such alignment while
keeping a constant font size and legibility of a sort is to manipulate the
stacking order via the z-index property.

http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS2/visuren.html#q30

 That way the highest annotation element in the z-order overlays those lower
down. Once again the layout has to be scripted, so that the assigned
z-orderings can be tracked and manipulated to bring the item the user wants
to view to the front of the stack (this is one of the ways "tabbed" displays
are produced). But I'm not convinced it's worth the effort.

Michael Beddow