W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > site-comments@w3.org > September 2006

absolute font-size considered harmful

From: James G. Sack (jim) <jgsack@san.rr.com>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 16:23:20 -0500
Message-ID: <4511B0B9.2090308@san.rr.com>
To: site-comments@w3.org
Cc: info-en-o@wikimedia.org



(cc'ing WikiPedia in hopes they will think about this suggestion, also)


Suggestions:

1. a "feedback" link in all page footers might be worthwhile <grin>.

2. on http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/font-size, I think you should reconsider
the advice
  "..even better, set a base font-size for the document.."
because people seem to be taking that as justification for ignoring the
advice
  "Avoid sizes in em smaller than 1em.."
that appears in the very next bullet.


rationale:

WikiPedia, for example has a css sheet including
 (and other people seem to be copying this strategy)
= = =
 /* Font size:
** We take advantage of keyword scaling- browsers won't go below 9px
** More at http://www.w3.org/2003/07/30-font-size
** http://style.cleverchimp.com/font_size_intervals/altintervals.html
*/

body {
	font: x-small sans-serif;
...	
}

/* scale back up to a sane default */
#globalWrapper {
	font-size: 127%;
...
}
= = =

In my opinion this defeats the ability of users to control their own
viewing comfort. In the case of the WikiPedia pages, if I edit the CSS
(thanks to firefox extensions) by setting body and globalWrapper
font-size to 100%, I recover my own preferences nicely.

In years past, the practice was justified on the basis of an argument
that goes "..most browsers display fonts too large..", but even that not
would not be a good basis for standardizing on "too small" so that it
comes out right after applying the "too large" operation!

Anyway, I suggest clarifying the advice. My thinking runs to something
like this:

  "For a general audience, do _not_ specify an absolute base font size.
Use 100% or 1em, so that your pages honor the user's preferences."

Regards,
..jim
Received on Wednesday, 20 September 2006 21:24:51 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Wednesday, 24 October 2012 16:21:30 GMT