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Re: Font size


From: Terence de Giere
Date: Jun 4, 2002 10:19AM

Leo --


'IE/PC appears to install with its font size setting to "smaller" or
"smallest" in some cases. If you use an em value less than about
0.95em, your copy will be unreadable by folks who have IE set to
"smaller" by default.'

'A setting of "medium" by default is the norm, but a noticeable
number of folks do seem to have installs that set themselves to
smaller or smallest by default, and from my experiences the
majority of users out there do _not_ know either that they can
change their browser's font size setting or how they can change it.'

I just installed Window 2000 Professional on my machine, and font sizes were medium for IE. I then set Windows screen display to "Large Fonts" (120 dots per inch) and this breaks up most Web pages set and designed to absolute sizes. Setting IE to "smaller" fonts more or less restores the appearance of the page as it typically appears at the more common setting of 96 dots per inch. I don't recall a choice during the system install that gave me a choice like this, but I did not really pay that much attention. I have never gotten anything other than 96dpi (small fonts) when installing Windows operating systems and a 'medium' setting in Internet Explorer as a result of an OS install.

The differing display resolution (72dpi on the Mac, 96dpi abd 120dpi on Windows) affects most browsers especially with relative sized fonts. The newest IE version for the Mac and Netscape 6 for the PC have a more or less automated feature to control this and allow more consistent display, but IE and Opera for the PC do not, and there are other less well known browsers that do not have a setting.

Personally I have noticed users setting font size larger rather than smaller, and most sites seem to use font sizing that displays fonts smaller than quite a few people can read anyway, usually corresponding to HTML absolute sizes 1 or 2 using the FONT element.

When a design uses relative font sizes, the other aspects of the page need to be able to stretch and shrink and still maintain a satisfactory appearance when text reflows, or gets larger or smaller. I was just looking at http://www.cnn.com/. I found it difficult to change font sizes on this site. It uses pixels for CSS font sizing, and also has some Javascript for controlling font sizing in Netscape. They are obviously trying to maintain a fixed consistent size.

Do you have some examples of feedback from the users from the site you made with relative sizes.?

Terence de Giere

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