HTML 4.0 question

Josh Paluch (
Wed, 23 Jul 1997 15:36:28 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 15:36:28 -0700
From: Josh Paluch <>
Subject: HTML 4.0 question

>From: Mark Anderson <>
>Subject: HTML 4.0 question
I was just looking at the HTML 4.0 spec, and it sez that the
>default font size for a page is 4 (if not defined by <BASEFONT>). Am I
>loopy, or is this an increase from the current default size of 3?

This looks to be the case. Very interesting....
Wilbur (in the section describing the <basefont> element, it clearly says
that the defaults to size=3)


<!ELEMENT BASEFONT - O EMPTY    -- base font size (1 to 7) -->
    size    CDATA   #IMPLIED    -- e.g. size=4, ****defaults to 3**** --

Used to set the base font size. BASEFONT is an empty element so the end tag
is forbidden. The SIZE attribute is an integer value ranging from
1 to 7. The base font size applies to the normal and preformatted text but
not to headings, except where these are modified using the FONT
element with a relative font size. 

in Cougar (even though BASEFONT is deprecated) we find this...
Font modifier elements: FONT and BASEFONT 

FONT and BASEFONT are deprecated.

  <!ELEMENT FONT - - (%inline)*   -- local change to font -->
    size        CDATA      #IMPLIED  -- [+]nn e.g. size="+1", size=4 --
    color       CDATA      #IMPLIED  -- #RRGGBB in hex, e.g. red: "#FF0000" --
    face        CDATA      #IMPLIED  -- comma separated list of font names --

Start tag: required, End tag: required

    size        CDATA      #REQUIRED -- base font size for FONT elements --
    color       CDATA      #IMPLIED  -- #RRGGBB in hex, e.g. red: "#FF0000" --
    face        CDATA      #IMPLIED  -- comma separated list of font names --

"The BASEFONT element sets the base font size (using the size attribute).
Font size changes achieved with FONT are relative to the base font
size set by BASEFONT. If BASEFONT is not used, the default base font size
is 4."


one could understand that this "change" makes sense given that 4 is the
median of 1-7. This also conforms with Style sheets better.  
here is text from CSS1.0

5.2.6    'font-size' 

               Value: <absolute-size> | <relative-size> | <length> |
               Initial: medium
               Applies to: all elements
               Inherited: yes
               Percentage values: relative to parent element's font size
                An <absolute-size> keyword is an index to a table of font
sizes computed and kept by the UA.  

Possible values are: [ xx-small | x-small | small | medium | large |
x-large | xx-large ]. 

On a computer screen a scaling factor of 1.5 is suggested between adjacent
indexes; if the 'medium' font is 10pt, the 'large' font could be 15pt.
Different media may need different scaling factors. Also, the UA should
take the quality and availability of fonts into account when computing the
table. The table may be different from one font family to another. 

any comments on this from the www-html group?

good catch mark, josh
Josh Paluch
Technical Producer, Creative Services
CNET: The Computer Network
415.395.7805 x1391