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Re: Font size question


From: Leo Smith
Date: Oct 29, 2002 2:36PM

> The site was created using a
> stylesheet for accessibility reasons and uses the 'em' attribute for
> the font size. The value is set to .95, which is only 5% less than if
> no font size had been specified at all. The 'em' attribute allows the
> visitor to increase (or decrease) the text to his or her own comfort
> level.

IE on the PC seems to have a "bug" when it comes to rendering
fonts sized with em values.

The "gradiations of change" between medium > smaller > smallest
are extreme in this browser/platform combination, and anything
below about 0.9em can be unreadable with smaller and smallest

Why is this an issue if the user can change the font size setting in
their browser?

A site I worked on went live with font sizes specified in em values.
Within the first week, we had five e-mails from folks who could not
read the copy as it was too small.

After some discussions with other Web designers/developers, it
seems that in some cases, IE can install with the text size set to
smaller by default. This is an issue is the user does not know that
they can, in fact, change this setting. Hence, they come to a site
with em font sizes specified, and upon encountering some very
small text, turn away in disgust.

This "bug" in IE does not seem to occur with font sizes specified in
% values. In theory, 90% and 0.9em should be the same size text,
but at the smaller and smallest setting in IE, they are not.

The solution to this issue seems to be to use font sizes specified
in % rather than em.


Leo Smith
Web Designer/Developer
USM Office of Publications and Marketing
University of Southern Maine

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