Wilk4: Font Size Control Question/Discussion
I'd like to get some feedback from other web developers on how you
all currently prefer to do font size control. Considering the browser
and platform incompatibilities and differences in how CSS font size
control is handled, I'm having some problems deciding upon what's the
best way to go for now. (acknowledging that as browsers mature, the
answer will change)
As a little background to frame the discussion, I've been moving to
using CSS to change whole sites over to different font faces/families,
but the defaults with either Arial or Verdana look huge.
I'd like to be able to set the default at something smaller via CSS,
but every version of every CSS-supporting browser seems to come up with
different text sizes. And using a combination of CSS and HTML font size
control doesn't work well since it seems that netscape ignores HTML font
sizes when CSS font size is spec'd and MSIE seems to ignore CSS font
sizes when HTML font sizes are spec'd. It's enough to drive you nuts.
I'd like to still allow the user the flexibility to scale the whole
thing up and down using the browser controls if possible and not have it
totally crap out for some particular browser or platform... and I'd
really prefer not having to use separate style sheets for each
So, what do you use and recommend at this point?
- Do you assume that users are leaving their browser's default text
size at the installed defaults (12pt Times Roman) or that they are
changing it to the size they prefer to view for their monitor size?
- Do you do any CSS font size control or do you use only HTML FONT
- If you use CSS, which font sizing method do you use?
- If you use CSS, do you spec particular point sizes for text? What
sizes for what?
Responses from other Web Developers
References and Notes:
- CSS Font Size Control, Recommendations
- CSS Font Size Control Test Page
- PC Week: CSS -- Relative Sizes of Text
- WebMonkey: Text Size Control with CSS, 9/1998
- WebMonkey: Sizing Up Text on the Next Browsers,
4/2000, explains cross-platform font problems, and how new browsers address these issues.
- Toward a standard font size interval system
All webdevelopers should read this essay-in-progress by Todd Fahrner on CSS font size intervals
and bring it to the attention of browser makers where ever you can.
Even incomplete, TF has the most intelligent discussion of the font-sizing issues that I've seen anywhere.
(TF's Agitprop site also has many excellent css discussions.)
- AListApart: Fear of Style Sheets 4
Jeffrey Zeldman discusses what does work in any "CSS-capable" browser, no matter how old,
inadequate, or semi-standards-compatible. Suggests that in controlling font sizes
with CSS, only 2 things really work:
- Use pixels (not points, not ems, not percentages, not keywords) to specify your font sizes. Or:
- Use nothing. Do not specify font sizes at all, and let the browser's stylistic defaults
and the visitor's preferences take care of the relative size relationships.