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RE: Full text online: Accessible Web Typography - an introduction for web designers

From: Hoffman, Geoffrey <ghoffman@aztrib.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2004 09:48:14 -0700
Message-ID: <078FF71625E8D4118DCB00902751365202FAA32C@tribmail1.aztribune.com>
To: Jim Byrne <j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Hello Jim,

I don't have time right now to go through your whole book - from what I saw,
great resource! But I didn't find a section where you covered this. 

One thing I noticed in my own development is that (this only seems to affect
MS Internet Explorer) if you encode the font sizes in your page using
percentages, the ability to resize the text on-the-fly (view -> text size ->
smallest, smaller, medium, larger, largest) is "dampened"; whereas if you
encode font sizes using ems, the ability to resize text on-the-fly is
"amplified".  Although most online typography resources seem to indicate
that ems are the preferred size unit, it's apparent that this can be used to
advantage for certain purposes...

In other words, even when it seems like they should be the same, IE treats
its own internal text scaling quite differently for % vs. em. If you have
something set for 100%, 120%, and 150%, the font-zooming lets you
increase/decrease the size of text only marginally; whereas if you set 1.0
em; 1.2 em; and 1.5 em; the font zooming lets you increase/decrease the size
of text drastically.

I discovered this while performing a variety of tests. Perhaps you did also
- but thought I'd pass along the info just in case. In my case, I had
programmed a web page using ems, but IE allowed the font to be scaled down
so far as to be useless, and so huge that the design was destroyed. After
some tweaking using % shrunk the zoom range and allowed some alteration by
the user and preserved the site design.

As a comparison, your site http://www.scotconnect.com/webtypography/
probably uses ems, whereas www.eastvalleytribune.com (admittedly not a very
accessible site) uses %. Try zooming down to 'smallest' on your site vs.
mine and you'll immediate see why this became an issue for me.

It's not an issue at all with Netscape or Opera, as their page-scaling
mechanism works an entirely different way. But if your audience is largely
composed on Internet Explorer users (who's isn't?), you ought to consider
using percentage-based text sizing.

Geoffrey D. Hoffman
Lead Web Developer
Arizona Interactive Media Group

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Byrne [mailto:j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk]
> Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 3:19 AM
>  'Accessible Web Typography - an
> introduction for web designers is now online at
> http://www.scotconnect.com/webtypography/
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2004 11:54:02 UTC

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