Re: Basefont vs. Fonti-Size

E. Stephen Mack (estephen@emf.net)
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 23:34:18 -0700


Message-Id: <3.0.3.32.19970724233418.00f76778@emf.net>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 23:34:18 -0700
To: www-html@w3.org
From: "E. Stephen Mack" <estephen@emf.net>
Subject: Re: Basefont vs. Fonti-Size
In-Reply-To: <3.0.1.32.19970724081105.009601b0@central.cnet.com>

Josh Paluch <joshp@cnet.com> wrote:
> The reason I was thinking that [HTML 4.0's declaration that the
> default value of BASEFONT is 4] wasn't a typo is the whole 4 is the
> median of 1-7 thing, plus I'm still trying to understand how this
> relates to CSS.  

Well, I understand the point about 4 being the median.  I'm sure
that's why this typo got there; but Arnaud Le Hors assured me in
e-mail that the default value of BASEFONT is still 3, as it was
in HTML 3.2.

Historically, there have been two available FONT sizes that
are smaller than the default, and four available FONT sizes
that are larger than the default.  For most browsers,
<FONT size="-3">foo</FONT> and <FONT size="-2">foo</FONT>
show text at the same size.


> I assume this means that in CSS lingo the default is 'small'?  
> correct?

Actually, this brings up an important point: no, in CCS
the default value of font-size is "medium".  The possible
absolute sizes are:

xx-small | x-small | small | medium | large | x-large | xx-large

Testing on IE 4.0 plat-prev-2, there is a direct correspondence
between the 7 sizes of the FONT element and the seven font-size
absolute names of CSS.

(That is, xx-small is rendered at the same size as size 1, and
medium is rendered at the same size as size 4, etc.)

IE 4.0 treats the default CSS font-size as "small" not medium.
If you use:
  <SPAN STYLE="font-size: medium">foo-1</SPAN> foo-2
then foo-1 is larger than foo-2.

This is *not* the same as the behavior of IE 3.02, which
had completely different values for the seven CSS font-sizes
than IE 4.0.  The changes in font-size were much more gradual.
Text's default size, FONT size=3, and font-size: medium were all
the same.  foo-1 is the same size as foo-2.

For Navigator 4.01, foo-1 is also the same size as foo-2.
There is no direct correspondence between the seven FONT sizes
and the seven font-size absolute names.  Instead, Navigator
seems to be following the CSS-1 specification's recommendation
of using a scaling factor of 1.5.

As it turns out with Navigator, "xx-small" is smaller
than FONT size 1 but "x-small" is about the same size. 
FONT size 2 is about the same size as "small".
FONT size 3 is the same size as "medium".  "large" is about
the same size as FONT size 5.  FONT size 6 is not quite
as large as "x-large" and "xx-large" is larger than FONT
size 7.

This is on a Windows 95 system, standard 640x480 display,
no special font preferences.  Your results may vary.

The discrepancy between IE and Navigator may end up being
significant for Web authors.  IE 4.0 is clearly
not following the specification for CSS-1, since it is not
using font-size medium as the default font-size.

Hopefully this problem will be corrected before IE 4.0
is finalized.
-- 
E. Stephen Mack <estephen@emf.net>    http://www.emf.net/~estephen/