W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > August 1996

Re: line spacing in MSIE...NOT!

From: David Perrell <davidp@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 22:35:21 -0700
Message-Id: <199608020536.WAA23633@serbia.it.earthlink.net>
To: "Thomas Reardon" <thomasre@MICROSOFT.com>, "'www-style@w3.org'" <www-style@w3.org>
Thomas Reardon wrote:
> I am not sure I understand whats wrong here, can you explain more
>  Are you saying line-height is broken entirely, or just with
> percentages?

It is broken entirely. Lines of text are not displayed in accordance
with either the CSS spec or the semantics of typography.

There seems to be some misunderstanding here as to what type size
means. Type size does not equate to letter height (from the lowest
descender to the highest ascender), nor does it have anything to do
with x-height (the height of the lowercase x). Some fonts have a
smaller letter height than their corresponding type size, and fancy
scripts tend to have a tiny x-height for their size. But the size is
a constant: when line height is specified to be equal to type size,
the space between the baselines of two consecutive lines of type
should equal the type size.

With MSIE, I get the results I reported. Whether I specify line
spacing along with font as "40px/40px" or separately as "line-height:
40px" or "line-height: 100%," I cannot get 40px/40px type. According
to the CSS spec, I should also be able to use a "numerical value" for
line-height, in which case "the line height is given by the font size
of the current element multiplied with the numerical value"-- i.e., a
value of 1 gives a line height equal to the font size. This doesn't
work with MSIE either. The problem is the same when units are in

The comment made by someone that "Different fonts will have different
idea of what "100%" line spacing is" is nonsense. This is certainly
not the case outside of CSS. The font-relative Em and En are
horizontal measurements, not vertical. The "esthetics" of the font
have been built in by the type designer, within the constraints of
the vertical space that is the type size.

Look carefully at some large headlines in your favorite magazines.
You'll find that it's very common to specify a negative leading--
i.e., a line height less than the type size. It would not be unusual
to find an all cap headline spec'd as 48pt/40pt, and there's nothing
in CSS that precludes this. But there's sure something in MSIE 3.0b2
that does.

Whether I'm designing a fancy dimensional type effect or just trying
to get the perfect spacing on a headline, I want to be assured that
40pt/40pt (spoken as "40 on 40") means what it says.

David Perrell
Received on Friday, 2 August 1996 01:36:07 UTC

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