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Re: Why reduce font size

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 15:44:13 +0100
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-Id: <200503151544.13298.bert@w3.org>

On Tuesday 01 March 2005 00:58, Susan Lesch wrote:
> Hello,
>
> Do some Web designers prefer fonts too small to read in Firefox with
> my preference, Baskerville 14 (Mac OS 10.3.8)? If I needed to call
> Opera, Adobe, Microsoft or Netscape, I'd have to be very close to the
> screen to read a phone number. Here are a few examples.

I guess many Web designers don't understand Web design :-(

The medium font size of 16px is much too big for me, but that's OK, I 
can set it smaller. The medium size is the one for the bulk of the 
text. A comfortable size for me turns out to be around 10pt/13px.

Even with sub-pixel addressing on LCDs, 'x-small' and 'xx-small' are not 
useful on screen media. But that is OK, too. While we wait for better 
screens, we can set a minimum font size in the browser to protect 
ourselves from designers that use them anyway. My minimum is set to 
9pt, allowing for 'small', but nothing less.

It's really a nuisance that so many sites have the bulk of the text in a 
smaller font than 'medium'. I'm seriously thinking of setting my 
minimum font equal to my medium one. But that would make the difference 
between small and medium disappear on well-designed sites...

Maybe browsers should implement an automatic size control, such as media 
players use to normalize the sound volume: the range of font sizes in 
the document is automatically shifted, so that (1) the smallest font is 
no smaller than the user's minimum and (2) the most common size is no 
smaller than the user's default.

> In about 1999, Mac browser vendors changed from 12px to 16px [1,2]. I
> assume the problem, if there was one, has been solved. Or do you
> think CSS usage is raising shipping and or user preference sizes
> again?

Maybe if browsers ship with a minimum font size of 9pt out of the box 
(or a font-size normalization routine, as above), those Web designers 
will realize that they have misunderstood what their readers want and 
that the browser window isn't something they control, but something 
they share with millions of other people.

>
> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/1998Dec/0030.html
> [2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/1998Dec/0052.html
>
> Thank you.



Bert
-- 
  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos                               W3C/ERCIM
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Tuesday, 15 March 2005 14:44:21 GMT

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