W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > July 2004

Re: CSS 2 font-size clarification.

From: Mikko Rantalainen <mira@cc.jyu.fi>
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2004 23:53:43 +0300
Message-ID: <41041DD7.50706@cc.jyu.fi>
To: Richard York <richy@smilingsouls.net>
Cc: www-style@w3.org

Richard York / 2004-07-23 11:15:

> I have a question concerning the use of absolute size keywords for the 
> font-size property.
> [...]
> To get down to my questions.. in CSS 2.1 and 3 apparently a new scaling 
> factor was necessary, however, there appears to be no suggested starting 
> point (or example) as there was in CSS 2, with the language:
> "if the 'medium' font is 12pt"
> Though vague as it was it appeared that UAs used it, which resulted in 
> consistent behavior, whether intentionally or not. (at least as far as 
> Windows UAs are concerned, I haven't yet tested on other OSs).
> What was the reason for the elimination of this language? Secondly since 
>   in this case there appears to be a consistent behavior between UAs, 
> why was the spec changed at all? Why not just add more keywords to 
> preserve BC with the existing implementations?

Do you still believe that web pages are meant to look *identical*?

Why is having some predefined 'medium' font size bad? Because I, you 
  or the spec writer cannot know the *correct* size for the *end 
user*. For example, the 'pt' unit is short for point. And one point 
is 1/72th of an inch or 0.353 mm. Think about a text with 12pt font 
size projected to 10 foot screen; kind of small, isn't it? (Notice 
that I mean 12 point text, not something that current UAs render as 
"12pt" because the display's pixels per inch (or DPI) measure is 
incorrect or unknown. On the other hand, if your vision was below 
average it might be that you couldn't read anything below 36pt 
(absolute unit!) no matter how near you could get to the text. It 
would really suck to have browser that had 12pt 'medium' font size 
just because the spec said so, wouldn't it? ...well, you get the 
point (pun intended =) ...

As for the 12pt that browser manufacturers default to? It's just the 
size that Netscape 3.x (or earlier version?) defaulted and every 
browser has used the same default ever since because "otherwise the 
page would look different". Most people with average vision would 
rather read 11pt or 10pt text but *you as an author should NOT 
readjust the font size* just because *you* think that the user 
hasn't corrected the default, yet!

> Forgive my ignorance.. I'm trying to present the material for a book, so 
> I need a good understanding of what led to the change and what effects, 

At least you're doing research for your book ;-)

Received on Sunday, 25 July 2004 16:53:36 UTC

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