W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2008

Re: Advanced Font Features

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 16:32:26 +0200
Message-ID: <01c501c85aa8$1d1e7500$0500000a@DOCENDO>
To: "CSS Style" <www-style@w3.org>

fantasai wrote:

> "A value of 'italic' selects a font that is labeled 'italic', or, if
> that is not available, one labeled 'oblique'."

That's a wrong idea. And it's not what browsers do in reality. They 
simply treat italic and oblique the same and implement it by using an 
italics font if available and by slanting a "normal" font otherwise. 
This, too, is a wrong idea, and a very wrong one, but a different wrong 
idea.

> In CSS, where the designer doesn't know what set of fonts will be
> available when the page is rendered, this makes a lot of sense.

Especially for that reason, it does not make sense.

Consider the text "foo | bar". Never mind why I'm using the vertical bar 
there; just believe me when I say that I have a reason. Now applying 
font-style: italic to that text is fine when the font happens to exist 
in an italics version. If it doesn't, then the current browser practice 
is to use a slanted version of the normal font. The letters look more or 
less ugly (partly because the browser slants the glyphs so much, to make 
the fake italics differ visibly fron non-italics text); and worse still, 
"|" now looks more or less like "/", distorting the information 
contents.

> If font-style: italic fell back to a different font's italic it would
> look noticeably weird.

It shouldn't be supposed to fall back at all. Either there is an italics 
variant of the font and it should be used, or the declaration should 
have no effect.

> And if it fell back to a normal font, then
> we have lost what is often an important distinction between the
> italicized text and the surrounding text.

Such a risk always exists. It's quite comparable to the possibility of 
losing color, underlining, bolding, small caps, or just a font 
difference that was meant to say something.

> Also most people use "italic" when they mean "either italic or
> oblique" because they don't know what an oblique is.

This is yet another strong reason why treating them the same is a very 
wrong idea, as is the idea of letting italic "fall back" to oblique (but 
the latter idea only exists in CSS specifications, whereas the former is 
alive and kicking - us).

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ 
Received on Saturday, 19 January 2008 14:32:27 GMT

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