W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > May 1999

Confusion over meaning of font-size

From: L. David Baron <dbaron@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 15:01:03 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199905111901.PAA11190@login1.fas.harvard.edu>
To: www-style@w3.org

The CSS definition of font-size is different from the one used by many
operating systems and/or font formats.  I'm not sure exactly where the
problem lies.  However, a number of other things in CSS depend on font
sizes (em units, backgrounds of inline elements, line-height), and
different browsers compensate for the two different definitions of font
size in different ways, causing rather serious incompatibilities.  In
the current situation, implementation of font-size-adjust would be
meaningless because different browsers would probably define x-height
in different ways.

I've written a test showing these problems and an explanation of how
various browsers handle the problems, at:


I think this inconsistency needs to be addressed in some way so that
presentational suggestions that are reasonable on one browser are not
ridiculous on another.  I don't really have any thoughts on how to
solve this without the serious backwards-compatibility problems that
would be caused by going to the spec's definition, but I hope others
here do.


L. David Baron      Freshman, Harvard      dbaron@fas.harvard.edu
Links, SatPix, CSS, etc.  < http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~dbaron/ >
WSP CSS AC                   < http://www.webstandards.org/css/ >
Received on Tuesday, 11 May 1999 15:01:13 UTC

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