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Setting Standards for Text

My organization is developing a set of "standards" for websites built
inhouse. The first question that comes to mind is what would be a good
standard default size for <p> text? 12 point? Which begs the
question, what unit of measurement should we use for specifying font
sizes, points or ems?

Thanks.

-Fleemo

Nov 4 '05 #1
18 2009
<fl******@comcast.net> wrote:
My organization is developing a set of "standards" for websites built
inhouse. The first question that comes to mind is what would be a good
standard default size for <p> text? 12 point? Which begs the
question, what unit of measurement should we use for specifying font
sizes, points or ems?


Use 100% (1em) for normal paragraph text.

See also http://css.nu/faq/ciwas-aFAQ.html#QA02
--
Darin McGrew, mc****@stanfordalumni.org, http://www.rahul.net/mcgrew/
Web Design Group, da***@htmlhelp.com, http://www.HTMLHelp.com/

"Nice is different than good." - Sondheim (LRRH, "Into the Woods")
Nov 4 '05 #2
fleemo17:
what unit of measurement should we use for specifying font
sizes, points or ems?


em
The reason is it lets users set their own font size, depending on their
screen, resolution, preference, ... The communication department will
want pixel size: fight them!

--
Screenshot on sale
http://www.milliondollarscreenshot.com/
Nov 4 '05 #3
Thank you both for your input. :)

Have a great weekend.

-F

Nov 4 '05 #4
Guillaume wrote:
fleemo17:
> what unit of measurement should we use for specifying font

sizes, points or ems?

em
The reason is it lets users set their own font size, depending on their
screen, resolution, preference, ... The communication department will
want pixel size: fight them!


And you would be well served to set up a demonstration using several
computers with different monitor sizes and then show what happens with
different settings for browser minimum font size, resolution, color
depth, and settings that over-ride an author's page definitions. It can
be very difficult for the uninitiated to understand how all of those
things interact to defeat the most well-intentioned page design.

--
Ed Mullen
http://edmullen.net
http://mozilla.edmullen.net
Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.
Nov 5 '05 #5
fl******@comcast.net wrote:
My organization is developing a set of "standards" for websites built
inhouse. The first question that comes to mind is what would be a good
standard default size for <p> text? 12 point? Which begs the
question, what unit of measurement should we use for specifying font
sizes, points or ems?

Thanks.

-Fleemo


Use em's for most, if not all, sizing (and not just for the fonts).
From personal experience (and something that I think *all* of us have
experienced); one can spend hours and hours using units such as px's
to get that "just right" look....only to find out that a simple
text-size adjustment can wipe out all of your hard work.

p {font-size:1.0em;}

....works fine, for most people; even though some might say that conventional
wisdom suggests that 0.8em is better; as most browsers default to a
"slightly too big" size.
--

Greg Heilers
Registered Linux user #328317 - SlackWare 10.1 (2.6.10)
.....

As far as anyone knows we're a nice, normal family.

-- Homer Simpson
There's No Disgrace Like Home

Nov 6 '05 #6
On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
...works fine, for most people; even though some might say that
conventional wisdom suggests that 0.8em is better;
In this field I'd dare to suggest that "conventional" and "wisdom" are
quite some distance apart from each other.
as most browsers default to a "slightly too big" size.


Says who? I know too many "designers" who rate it so, but I don't
recall any users complaining. On the other hand, I hear quite a
number of users grumbling about micro fonts, and asking what those
deezyners thought they were doing.
Nov 6 '05 #7
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
...works fine, for most people; even though some might say that
conventional wisdom suggests that 0.8em is better;


In this field I'd dare to suggest that "conventional" and "wisdom" are
quite some distance apart from each other.
as most browsers default to a "slightly too big" size.


Says who? I know too many "designers" who rate it so, but I don't
recall any users complaining. On the other hand, I hear quite a
number of users grumbling about micro fonts, and asking what those
deezyners thought they were doing.


Exactly...which is why I prefaced it with "*some* might say. It is all a
matter of taste; but for me personally, I do usually find the default
setting a tad too large.

--

Greg Heilers
Registered Linux user #328317 - SlackWare 10.1 (2.6.10)
.....

Well if it isn't the leader of the weiner patrol, boning up on his nerd
lessons!

-- Homer Simpson
Boy-Scoutz n the Hood

Nov 6 '05 #8
Sun, 06 Nov 2005 02:02:37 GMT from Greg Heilers
<gN************@earthNOSPAMlink.net>:
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
as most browsers default to a "slightly too big" size.


Says who? I know too many "designers" who rate it so, but I don't
recall any users complaining. On the other hand, I hear quite a
number of users grumbling about micro fonts, and asking what those
deezyners thought they were doing.


Exactly...which is why I prefaced it with "*some* might say. It is all a
matter of taste; but for me personally, I do usually find the default
setting a tad too large.


So fix your browser setting; that's where the problem is. It's not a
Web-page authoring problem.

Think about this logically: your suggested 0.8em says "take the size
the user already selected, and make the text 20% smaller."

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
HTML 4.01 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/
validator: http://validator.w3.org/
CSS 2.1 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/
validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Why We Won't Help You:
http://diveintomark.org/archives/200..._wont_help_you
Nov 6 '05 #9
Stan Brown wrote:
Sun, 06 Nov 2005 02:02:37 GMT from Greg Heilers
<gN************@earthNOSPAMlink.net>:
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
> On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
>> as most browsers default to a "slightly too big" size.
>
> Says who? I know too many "designers" who rate it so, but I don't
> recall any users complaining. On the other hand, I hear quite a
> number of users grumbling about micro fonts, and asking what those
> deezyners thought they were doing.


Exactly...which is why I prefaced it with "*some* might say. It is all a
matter of taste; but for me personally, I do usually find the default
setting a tad too large.


So fix your browser setting; that's where the problem is. It's not a
Web-page authoring problem.

Think about this logically: your suggested 0.8em says "take the size
the user already selected, and make the text 20% smaller."


I think the "snafu" may lie in your last suggestion. I imagine that
90% of the computer users in the world have never "fixed their browser
setting", with regards to default font-size; nor are even aware of how to do
it. I was just suggesting, that because of this; and because that many
(including myself) find most browser default settings to be on the "a little
too large" end; that one may want to tinker around with a font-size of
0.8em.

--

Greg Heilers
Registered Linux user #328317 - SlackWare 10.1 (2.6.10)
.....
Marge: You will not be getting a tattoo for Christmas.

Homer: Yeah. If you want one, you'll have to pay for it out of your
own allowance.

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Nov 6 '05 #10
Greg Heilers wrote:
Stan Brown wrote:
Sun, 06 Nov 2005 02:02:37 GMT from Greg Heilers
<gN************@earthNOSPAMlink.net>:
Alan J. Flavell wrote:

> On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
>> as most browsers default to a "slightly too big" size.
>
> Says who? I know too many "designers" who rate it so, but I don't
> recall any users complaining. On the other hand, I hear quite a
> number of users grumbling about micro fonts, and asking what those
> deezyners thought they were doing.

Exactly...which is why I prefaced it with "*some* might say. It is all a
matter of taste; but for me personally, I do usually find the default
setting a tad too large.

You probably have a great set of eyes. Change your default size.
So fix your browser setting; that's where the problem is. It's not a
Web-page authoring problem.

Think about this logically: your suggested 0.8em says "take the size
the user already selected, and make the text 20% smaller."
I think the "snafu" may lie in your last suggestion. I imagine that
90% of the computer users in the world have never "fixed their browser
setting", with regards to default font-size; nor are even aware of how to do
it.


The default size was quite right for me, so why would I want to change
it?
I was just suggesting, that because of this; and because that many
(including myself) find most browser default settings to be on the "a little
too large" end;
You probably have a great set of eyes. Change your default size.
that one may want to tinker around with a font-size of 0.8em.


No! Now you want to take my quite right size, and as Stan said, reduce
it, just because *you* have good eyes. I would have to increase it to
about 120% to read it, and that would probably break your page (as it
does most pages).

Set yer own default size smaller, and leave your pages at 100%. (Setting
body in em causes problems in IE.)

--
-bts
-Warning: I brake for lawn deer
Nov 6 '05 #11
In article <Pi*****************************@ppepc56.ph.gla.ac .uk>,
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
as most browsers default to a "slightly too big" size.


Says who? I know too many "designers" who rate it so, but I don't
recall any users complaining. On the other hand, I hear quite a
number of users grumbling about micro fonts, and asking what those
deezyners thought they were doing.


I have my browser set to not use a font size smaller than 14 point. An
astonishing number of pages provide me with jumbled up text overlaying
itself. Plus I've recently discovered that some menus disappear
entirely on some commercial sites (I guess they dropped off the end).
Since that was the menu for finding the flight, so I thought they didn't
have one, I ended up buying a ticket from a different airline.

--
http://www.ericlindsay.com
Nov 6 '05 #12
Tim
Stan Brown:
So fix your browser setting; that's where the problem is. It's not a
Web-page authoring problem.

Think about this logically: your suggested 0.8em says "take the size the
user already selected, and make the text 20% smaller."


Greg Heilers:
I think the "snafu" may lie in your last suggestion. I imagine that 90%
of the computer users in the world have never "fixed their browser
setting", with regards to default font-size; nor are even aware of how
to do it.
To which I, and many others, would say: "That's because they're happy
with the size of their text."
I was just suggesting, that because of this; and because that
many (including myself) find most browser default settings to be on the
"a little too large" end; that one may want to tinker around with a
font-size of 0.8em.


Again, adjust YOUR browser to suit you. That's the *ONLY* correct answer.

--
If you insist on e-mailing me, use the reply-to address (it's real but
temporary). But please reply to the group, like you're supposed to.

This message was sent without a virus, please destroy some files yourself.

Nov 6 '05 #13
On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Greg Heilers wrote:
Stan Brown wrote:
Think about this logically: your suggested 0.8em says "take the size
the user already selected, and make the text 20% smaller."
I think the "snafu" may lie in your last suggestion. I imagine that
90% of the computer users in the world have never "fixed their
browser setting", with regards to default font-size;


So those users have consented to the size which their supplier has set
for them. That's also a valid choice!
nor are even aware of how to do it.
If it was causing them discomfort, I think they'd start looking
around. It's not as if the View> Text Size menu, or the equivalent in
other browsesrs, is some arcane lore known only to the cognoscenti -
unlike MSIE's rather hidden option for rejecting the author's font
size settings[1]. My conclusion from that is that any author who
thinks they are caring about users who don't know how to use their
"browser" settings, must take *extra* care not to set too small a text
size. You seem to be doing just the opposite.
I was just suggesting, that because of this; and because that many
(including myself) find most browser default settings to be on the
"a little too large" end;
You don't suppose this is the first time that the topic has come up
here? The Usenauts have gone around and around with this logic, but I
have to agree that expecting users to set their default fonts to 25%
more than their desired normal size, in order that designers can set
them to 0.8 of what has been set, and thus hopefully get close to
their preferred answer, seems to be logically absurd.

When you're making your designs flexible enough, they will adapt
themselves harmlessly for those users who didn't make their own choice
of text size. *That's* the right place to invest the effort, IMNSHO:
making designs which are flexible enough that they don't fall to
pieces when the user settings don't match those chosen by the
designer.
that one may want to tinker around with a font-size of 0.8em.


But 80% of the default size is not "a tad": it's a generous size step.
See the notes at http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/fonts.html#font-size-props

In CSS2, the suggested scaling factor for computer screen between
adjacent indexes was 1.2 which still created issues for the small
sizes.

1/1.2 is 0.833..., as compared to your proposed 0.8. The consequences
of such a choice depend on many things - imponderables of the viewing
situation which the author cannot know. The only *reliable*
information which you have is that readers have either chosen, or at
least consented to, the current normal text size setting of their
browser, whatever it may be.

regards

[1] Folks like us have no problem with choosing a web browser (e.g
Mozilla) and setting it to disregard font settings below a certain
minimum; but if you're worrying about MSIE users who have little idea
about the features of their browser, you can't assume they'd be able
to use any such features. If their reading is hampered by erratic
font sizing from authors, the best their browser offers them is to
disregard all author-specified font size settings, but can they find
that option? It's somewhat concealed under accessibility features,
and I've had several unsolicited emails from MSIE users who wanted to
thank me for a web page of mine which, amongst other things, explains
where to find it - so I think it's fair to deduce that readers are
having a hard time finding it without help.

Nov 6 '05 #14
On Sun, 06 Nov 2005 01:26:23 GMT, Greg Heilers
<gN************@earthNOSPAMlink.net> wrote:
Use em's for most, if not all, sizing (and not just for the fonts).


I'd certainly agree with this for fonts and vertical spacing. It can
sometimes be necessary to switch to pixels for horizontal measurements,
on a site that's dependent on many fixed-width image assets - mixing the
two units can give some odd behaviours as the user manipulates text
sizes. (You can mix them on the page, but siblings should try to stick
with one unit)

For text sizing, then I'm strongly of the "body text is always 1em"
school and other texts are scaled from this. Some "flyspeck three" text
might be as pixel sizes where it's more important to fit it into a
defined screen area (such as a coloured header with breadcrumbs links)
than it is to support usability.

IE is yet another problem. It needs to have the text size expressed as
100% rather than 1em (sheer bugginess) but there's also the problem of
its poor scaling algorithm for different screen resolutions. "1em" _is_
simply "too big" when presented on a high resolution screen where the
user has already used the Windows setting (not the browser setting) to
magnify the fonts. I know of no complete fix for this, as there's no way
to tell what the desktop setting is. However my own practice is to use
IE conditional comments to set the text size as 80% for IE as the bext
of a bad job.
<style type="text/css">
body {
font-size: 1em;
font-size: 100%;
}
</style>
<!--[if IE]>
<style type="text/css" >
body {
font-size: 67%; /* 144dpi (Windows "150%") */
font-size: 80%; /* 120dpi (Windows "large fonts 125%" ) */
font-size: 100%; /* 96dpi (Windows "small fonts") */
}
</style>
<![endif]-->

Nov 6 '05 #15
Sun, 06 Nov 2005 05:21:20 GMT from Greg Heilers
<gN************@earthNOSPAMlink.net>:
I think the "snafu" may lie in your last suggestion. I imagine that
90% of the computer users in the world have never "fixed their browser
setting", with regards to default font-size; nor are even aware of how to do
it. I was just suggesting, that because of this; and because that many
(including myself) find most browser default settings to be on the "a little
too large" end; that one may want to tinker around with a font-size of
0.8em.


That's so wrong on so many levels.

First off, if people think the browser text is too big, they find out
what to do about it.

Second, it is logically invalid to equate "they didn't change it"
with "they must think it's too big but they can't figure out how to
fix it."

Third, it _is_ logically valid to say that everyone views pages with
a browser setting that is acceptable to them -- if it weren't
acceptable, they'd change it.

Fourth, you're elevating your own taste into a universal imperative.
Many of us _have_ fixed our browser settings, and your 0.8em is an
arrogant overruling of our own preferences.

Fifth, never mind logic -- experience is against you. As Alan Flavell
said, we see _far_ more complaints about text that's too small to
read than we do about text that's too big. You want to add to the
more common problem in the name of avoiding a non-problem.

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
HTML 4.01 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/
validator: http://validator.w3.org/
CSS 2.1 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/
validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Why We Won't Help You:
http://diveintomark.org/archives/200..._wont_help_you
Nov 6 '05 #16
On Sun, 06 Nov 2005 05:21:20 GMT, Greg Heilers
<gN************@earthNOSPAMlink.net> wrote:

[...]


I think the "snafu" may lie in your last suggestion. I imagine that
90% of the computer users in the world have never "fixed their browser
setting", with regards to default font-size; nor are even aware of how to do
it. I was just suggesting, that because of this; and because that many
(including myself) find most browser default settings to be on the "a little
too large" end; that one may want to tinker around with a font-size of


Let's assume for the moment that the statement that "90% of the
computer users" don't know how to adjust their browser setting is
true[1]. Wouldn't that be an even stronger argument *not* to reduce
the default text size? After all, if you do, you are likely to make
the text unreadable or poorly readable for some percentage (which is
likely to grow, as the computer-using population ages) of your users.
If they really don't know how to adjust their browser setings, then
you have just lost them as a reader. OTOH, if your sharp-eyed reader
finds the text "too big," well, if she can still read it, what is the
problem?

Nick

[1] It may very well be true today. But remember the days of - I think
it was Netscape 3 -- when some browsers had prominent buttons on the
toolbar for adjusting the font size? I believe the return of such
controls prominently displayed for the benefit of the naive user would
be greatly appreciated by those users, even if deezyners would gnash
their teeth at the thought such control was easily accessible.
--
Nick Theodorakis
ni**************@hotmail.com
contact form:
http://theodorakis.net/contact.html
Nov 6 '05 #17
Tim
On Sun, 06 Nov 2005 12:29:37 +0000, Alan J. Flavell sent:
80% of the default size is not "a tad": it's a generous size step.


I'd say that this is now a worse problem than it ever used to be.

CRT VDUs are moderately good at showing smallish fonts, even low priced
ones. But LCDs have an absolute minimum font size that they can legibly
reproduce.

We've discovered that typical designer small fonts are illegible blurs on
most LCDs, and the average LCD requires larger than normal text to be
clearly legible. They're worse than my old dot matrix printer.

--
If you insist on e-mailing me, use the reply-to address (it's real but
temporary). But please reply to the group, like you're supposed to.

This message was sent without a virus, please destroy some files yourself.

Nov 7 '05 #18
Tim
On Mon, 07 Nov 2005 10:48:17 +1000, Tim sent:
CRT VDUs are moderately good at showing smallish fonts, even low priced
ones. But LCDs have an absolute minimum font size that they can legibly
reproduce.


Supplemental: Every CRT display that I've tried is capable of legibly
showing smaller fonts than every LCD display that I've tried.

--
If you insist on e-mailing me, use the reply-to address (it's real but
temporary). But please reply to the group, like you're supposed to.

This message was sent without a virus, please destroy some files yourself.

Nov 7 '05 #19

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