Re: font size equivalence

Subject: Re: font size equivalence
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 16:50:48 -0600

>I've set my main text in a document to "2", and I'm wondering if this
>is the equivalent of 11 in Word. I've tried to figure out this myself,
>but all I can find is info about the default base font being 3 and how
>to alter it with "+#" or "-#".

Oh, goodness Elizabeth, what a can of worms *that* opens!

Font size (1,2,3,4,5,6) *has* no reliable equivalent point size. Netscape
and Explorer use different sizes, and in each case this can be altered by
the user.

Now, you *could* specify an actual point size in your tag, since CSS is
around and most browsers support it (halfheartedly). But even then you
don't have anything reliable, as Mac point size 11 is smaller than Windoze
point size 11, and the new browsers even allow Mac users to reset this
feature, so you can't count on Macs to get the same apparent size from the
same point size. (This particular uncertainly is supported by the W3C, and
*all* compliant browsers should have it soon.)

Or you *could* specify a pixel size for the font, which would then display
in all browsers and on all platforms at precisely the same height (except
for Linux, which has real problems with getting browser font sizes right at
the moment) but IE3 could render those pages unprintable, and you would
deprive visually challenged people of the opportunity to reset your chosen
size to one that actually works for them.

Best option: Tell your boss what he wants cannot be done, period. (It's a
Bad Idea as well, but bosses typically don't accept that as a Good Reason,
so stick with the technology limitation.) Then accept whatever size the
user has defined for their default font, and size other things in "em"s to
make them consistent.

The "font sizing secret" that you might not have been privy to? That every
web user has their own preferred font size, and doesn't appreciate it when
some airhead designer decides they know what is readable better than the
person who actually uses the eyeballs in question. Even if the airhead is
right, I might add.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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