By using this site, you agree to our updated Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Manage your Cookies Settings.
438,879 Members | 1,809 Online
Bytes IT Community
+ Ask a Question
Need help? Post your question and get tips & solutions from a community of 438,879 IT Pros & Developers. It's quick & easy.

typical default font sizes

P: n/a
I've been setting font-size 1em; as the default in my style
sheets. Until now, that seemed to be ok. But now I'm beginning to
wonder.

My aim is to have an easily readable, but not overly large text when
the user uses the default font size in his browser and uses the
typical display resolution.

I did a reinstall of my friendly browser in a different environment,
and I am surprised to find that its default for serif is Times 16 and
monospace is Courier 12.

I run a 1280 x 1024 resolution, and the text on page default appears
too large. Given my resolution, I would have expected just the
opposite. I gather that typical today is a resolution of 1024 x
768. If so, would not my browser default font size be suited to that?

The text on my web pages now appears too small. The typical and
default situation seems to make my text lines almost illegible.

--
Haines Brown
br****@hartford-hwp.com
kb****@arrl.net
www.hartford-hwp.com

Jul 20 '05 #1
Share this Question
Share on Google+
55 Replies


P: n/a
Haines Brown <br****@teufel.hartford-hwp.com> wrote:
I've been setting font-size 1em; as the default in my style
sheets.
Why?
I gather that typical today is a resolution of 1024 x
768. If so, would not my browser default font size be suited to that?


What exactly is your question, or your problem?

The issue of setting basic font size has been discussed ad nauseam. The
correct answer is, of course, that only the user can know what is suitable
to him. Browser defaults are generally too big on the average, but that's
probably _intentional_, and surely useful. It is certainly better to use a
little too large than a little too small font.

Clueless authors who second-guess that browser vendors guessed wrong
are bound to cause damage. This is something that the vendors got _right_.
--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Jul 20 '05 #2

P: n/a
Haines Brown wrote:
I did a reinstall of my friendly browser in a different environment,
and I am surprised to find that its default for serif is Times 16 and
monospace is Courier 12.
That is very surprising.
I run a 1280 x 1024 resolution, and the text on page default appears
too large. Given my resolution, I would have expected just the
opposite. I gather that typical today is a resolution of 1024 x
768. If so, would not my browser default font size be suited to that?
Resolution says nothing about the size of text. Resolution together with
physical screen size can give you the DPI which does. However, if we are
talking points, then it becomes irrelevent again becuase points are an
absolute unit (1pt is about 1/72 of an inch). Of course the browser has to
know the DPI to correctly calculate the size of a point, so it gets thrown
out of wack again.
The text on my web pages now appears too small. The typical and
default situation seems to make my text lines almost illegible.


First you say you set the font size to 1em, then you say that the font size
the author of your browser picked is too big for you, and then without
mentioning any changes, you say that the webpage is unreadable?

--
David Dorward http://dorward.me.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #3

P: n/a
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in
news:Xn*****************************@193.229.0.31:
Clueless authors who second-guess that browser vendors guessed wrong
are bound to cause damage. This is something that the vendors got
_right_.


Jukka, would you mind expanding on _why_ the browser vendors got this
right (IE Windows in particular). Not looking for a fight here, but I have
found myself rather persuaded by Owen Briggs' page on "Sane CSS Sizes" at

http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html

Is there any reason _not_ to adopt his simple but effective solution to
this evergreen issue? For myself, I have tried going with default sizes
but have found that the very first thing users say on seeing the site is:
"Can you make the text smaller?" I'm talking Win IE users here, of course.

--
Regds, Bob Osola
Jul 20 '05 #4

P: n/a
Haines Brown <br****@teufel.hartford-hwp.com> wrote:
I did a reinstall of my friendly browser in a different environment,
and I am surprised to find that its default for serif is Times 16 and
monospace is Courier 12.


What is "Times 16"? What is Courier 12"?
Jul 20 '05 #5

P: n/a
On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Bob Osola wrote:
http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html
Aaargh, microfonts (on my MSIE). [1]
Is there any reason _not_ to adopt his simple but effective solution
What "solution"? You can't solve a problem until you've defined what
you suppose the problem to be.

By my reckoning: discerning readers have selected an appropriate font
size for reading normal text. You don't know what it is - you don't
need to know what it is.

OK, maybe the bulk of readers have merely consented to the size that
the vendor set for them, rather than doing anything about it. So
what? I've nothing against them reading my web pages if they wish,
but I really prefer to write for discerning readers, rather than to
help prove Sturgeon's Law.
For myself, I have tried going with default sizes
but have found that the very first thing users say on seeing the site is:
"Can you make the text smaller?"
And the answer is "yes, in your browser".
I'm talking Win IE users here, of course.


See above. IE is no less susceptible to being configured to user
preferences in this regard. Well, OK: the available size steps are
somewhat limited, so you stand a greater than normal risk of lousing
things up if you, as author, attempt to interfere with a situation
that's not known to you.

Ho hum.

[1] Mozilla was saved only by the fact that I'd set a minimum
fonts size to defeat this kind of author stupidity.

Jul 20 '05 #6

P: n/a
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph. gla.ac.uk...
On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Bob Osola wrote:
http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html


Aaargh, microfonts (on my MSIE). [1]


Alan, what do you mean "microfonts"? I tried viewing the page with MSIE and
the smallest text size, and it was still quite readable (Win NT 4, IE 6,
1280x1024 on 19" monitor).

-Peter Foti
Jul 20 '05 #7

P: n/a
Bob Osola <bo******@junk.invalid> wrote:
Jukka, would you mind expanding on _why_ the browser vendors got this
right
I already did, in the part you didn't quote. To rephrase it, if the font is
somewhat larger than the user's preferred size, no big harm is done, but if
it's smaller, then the user is inconvenienced, or even troubled. So if you
make a guess for one font size than fits all, you should make it _larger_
than what you expect people to prefer on the average. The point is that
nobody is an average person, and literally billions (i.e., milliards) of
people have less than normal eyesight.
Not looking for a fight here, but I
have found myself rather persuaded by Owen Briggs' page on "Sane CSS
Sizes" at

http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html


It tells the browser to use a font size that is 24 % (that is, almost a
quarter) smaller than the user-selected font size. "Sane" isn't really my
word for that.

If authors very widely used such settings, then browser vendors would have
to make the factory defaults even considerable larger to compensate for the
effect. And there could be no meaningful font size setting, since it would
be either hard-wired (hence hostile) size or a relative size, but nobody
could know whether to relate the font size to the user-selected font size or
to a dee-zigh-nerr guess that says that users get it all wrong by 24 %, or
by some other percentage. Is that what you want?

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Jul 20 '05 #8

P: n/a
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in message
news:Xn****************************@193.229.0.31.. .
Not looking for a fight here, but I
have found myself rather persuaded by Owen Briggs' page on "Sane CSS
Sizes" at

http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html


It tells the browser to use a font size that is 24 % (that is, almost a
quarter) smaller than the user-selected font size. "Sane" isn't really my
word for that.


I'm curious... if I set a font size to Verdana at 84%, the size is roughly
comparable to Arial at 100% when viewed with IE at the default Medium text
size. If I increase my preference to Largest, the text is still roughly the
same size. Even on Smallest, there is not that much of a difference... more
so than the Medium and Largest settings, but probably not enough to be
noticable. So my question becomes... is it ok to size a font to something
other than 100% if it looks roughly the same as some other font at 100%? My
test code is below (don't have any place to host it at the moment).

Regards,
Peter Foti

<html>
<head>
<title>Font Size Test</title>
<style type="text/css">
.v { font-family: verdana; font-size: 84%; }
.a { font-family: arial; font-size: 100%; }
</style>
</head>
<body>
<p class="v">
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
</p>
<p class="a">
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
</p>
</body>
</html>
Jul 20 '05 #9

P: n/a
David Dorward wrote:
Haines Brown wrote:
I did a reinstall of my friendly browser in a different environment,
and I am surprised to find that its default for serif is Times 16 and
monospace is Courier 12.


That is very surprising.


FWIW, I think that was the settings when I installed Mozilla
1.3/Win2k. (I've since thanged them several times, so, in all
honestly, I cannot be certain of this.)

--
Brian

Jul 20 '05 #10

P: n/a
Peter Foti wrote:
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in message
news:Xn****************************@193.229.0.31.. .
Not looking for a fight here, but I
have found myself rather persuaded by Owen Briggs' page on "Sane CSS
Sizes" at

http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html


It tells the browser to use a font size that is 24 % (that is, almost a
quarter) smaller than the user-selected font size. "Sane" isn't really my
word for that.


I'm curious... if I set a font size to Verdana at 84%, the size is roughly
comparable to Arial at 100% when viewed with IE at the default Medium text
size. If I increase my preference to Largest, the text is still roughly the
same size. Even on Smallest, there is not that much of a difference... more
so than the Medium and Largest settings, but probably not enough to be
noticable. So my question becomes... is it ok to size a font to something
other than 100% if it looks roughly the same as some other font at 100%? My
test code is below (don't have any place to host it at the moment).


and those who don't have Verdana see a smaller looking font at 24% less
than the size they are comfortable reading

the answer is to not specify Verdana if you have a problem with the idea
of visitors seeing a largish text size

with my current set up I estimate I'm having to zoom in for around 30% of
web sites, and a good 20% beyond that I can only get around by viewing the
source and pasting links into the browser

the remaining 50% is largely composed of amateur built sites and very
large scale database driven sites

--
eric
www.ericjarvis.co.uk
all these years I've waited for the revolution
and all we end up getting is spin
Jul 20 '05 #11

P: n/a
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in
news:Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph. gla.ac.uk:
but have found that the very first thing users say on seeing the site
is: "Can you make the text smaller?"


And the answer is "yes, in your browser".


Fair point. But not one that my very non-tech customers want to have to
bother with. Most have no clue that one can resize the text in IE, let
alone (gasp!) use another browser. I guess it depends on which group of
end users one chooses - or is obliged, in my case - to please first.
Thanks for the response.

--
Regds, Bob Osola
Jul 20 '05 #12

P: n/a
I seem to have opened a can of worms here. Let me parse my question
a bit.

First, the philosophical question. I well understand the point that
the aim is to have the end use define just how big he wants the type
to appear. But that does not exhaust the issue. Browsers come
with defaults that, I presume, aim to please the greatest number, so
that the minimal number of people will have to adjustment their
browsers.

I had assumed that one aimed for the default size, and that's why I
defined my font-size as 1 em; The implication was that it makes no
sense to do that, but than what is wrong in my thinking? For example,
consider the following:

I glanced at a couple documents on line that had internally defined
styles. One (not CSS) had font=1, and the other had font-size 80%
;. Are these two definitions not referencing the size that the end
user set in his browser? The first uses the default size and the
second compensates for the tendency someone mentioned for browsers to
make the type too large. Am I wrong here?

My problem is that my "1 em" seems smaller than the "80%". This is
what I don't understand.

I was asked, what did I mean when I said my browser by default set
serif type to size 16. I don't understand the question. In my browser,
I can set preferences. Under fonts, I can set the style and size for
serif fonts. By default serifs use Times, size 16. Those are the
values that are shown without my having done any customization.

Then the issue of resolution came up. It was my assumption that when
you increase monitor resolution, windows get smaller, and with them
the size of text they contain. It would be possible, then, to incease
resolution to the point that the text becomes too small to read. Where
do I err here?

--
Haines Brown
br****@hartford-hwp.com
kb****@arrl.net
www.hartford-hwp.com

Jul 20 '05 #13

P: n/a
"Eric Jarvis" <we*@ericjarvis.co.uk> wrote in message
news:MP************************@News.CIS.DFN.DE...
Peter Foti wrote:
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in message
news:Xn****************************@193.229.0.31.. .
> Not looking for a fight here, but I
> have found myself rather persuaded by Owen Briggs' page on "Sane CSS
> Sizes" at
>
> http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html

It tells the browser to use a font size that is 24 % (that is, almost a quarter) smaller than the user-selected font size. "Sane" isn't really my word for that.


I'm curious... if I set a font size to Verdana at 84%, the size is roughly comparable to Arial at 100% when viewed with IE at the default Medium text size. If I increase my preference to Largest, the text is still roughly the same size. Even on Smallest, there is not that much of a difference... more so than the Medium and Largest settings, but probably not enough to be
noticable. So my question becomes... is it ok to size a font to something other than 100% if it looks roughly the same as some other font at 100%? My test code is below (don't have any place to host it at the moment).


and those who don't have Verdana see a smaller looking font at 24% less
than the size they are comfortable reading


Good point. It's too bad that CSS doesn't have a method for specifying the
font and size together. Something like:

font: verdana 84%, arial 100%, sans-serif 100%;

Such that if there was no Verdana font installed, the 84% would not be
applied.

-Peter

Jul 20 '05 #14

P: n/a
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in
news:Xn****************************@193.229.0.31:
I already did, in the part you didn't quote. To rephrase it, if the
font is somewhat larger than the user's preferred size, no big harm is
done, but if it's smaller, then the user is inconvenienced, or even
troubled.


Hmmmm. I can't see that too small a font is any more troubling in any
meaningful way than an over-large one. Both can make customers equally
unhappy. For myself - on the rare occasions that I use IE - I recoil from
its default large fonts as one would from bright car headlamps. My
customers seem to react likewise, judging by how quickly they email or
phone me up to complain about my occasional attempts at writing non-font-
size-fiddled pages for an IE audience.

I was looking for solid technical reasons why the Briggs technique might
be wrong or invalid in some way. Looks like it's just a personal opinion
type of issue after all. Thanks for the response.

--
Regds, Bob Osola
Jul 20 '05 #15

P: n/a
On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Bob Osola wrote:
http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tut...phy/index.html

"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in message Aaargh, microfonts (on my MSIE). [1]

Peter Foti <pe****@systolicnetworks.com> wrote: Alan, what do you mean "microfonts"?


That page's CSS uses

font-size : 76%;

for the BODY element, and then uses

font-size : 80%;

for P, OL, UL, LI, and other elements, for a net font size that's only 61%
of the user's normal font size.

And of course, LI elements appear inside OL or UL elements, so they're
rendered with a font that is 49% of the user's normal font size.

Unless the user has done something to thwart such foolishness, of course.
--
Darin McGrew, mc****@stanfordalumni.org, http://www.rahul.net/mcgrew/
Web Design Group, da***@htmlhelp.com, http://www.HTMLHelp.com/

"42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright
Jul 20 '05 #16

P: n/a
Haines Brown wrote:

It was my assumption that when
you increase monitor resolution, windows get smaller, and with them
the size of text they contain. It would be possible, then, to incease
resolution to the point that the text becomes too small to read. Where
do I err here?


I don't think you've erred, you just didn't carry this far enough.
While it is true that text gets increasingly smaller, there are
different ways to compensate for higher resolutions and keep text
comfortably readable.

One is to change the monitor's dpi setting, which should be independent
of screen size. For example, using Windows "large fonts" will globally
increase text size without changing screen size.

Another method is to just increase the text size within individual
applications. Many apps have some form of text zoom that works well on
individual documents. Browsers simply have the added option of
permenantly changing the default zoom factor, by way of setting a
default font size. As resolution goes up, so should the default font size.

There may be other ways to compensate, too, but the bottom line is that
text size will be adjusted as the user sees fit.

--
To email a reply, remove (dash)un(dash). Mail sent to the un
address is considered spam and automatically deleted.
Jul 20 '05 #17

P: n/a
*Bob Osola* <bo******@junk.invalid>:
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in
news:Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph. gla.ac.uk:
"Can you make the text smaller?"


And the answer is "yes, in your browser".


Fair point. But not one that my very non-tech customers want to have to
bother with.


Must be the same kind of people that doesn't adjust the rear mirrors in
their cars.

--
"Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time."
Terry Pratchett
Jul 20 '05 #18

P: n/a
On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Peter Foti wrote:
I'm curious... if I set a font size to Verdana at 84%,


.... then it means you haven't been following this group for long.

The problem with authors specifying Verdana has been discussed
perennially, on this group and elsewhere. In the office ISTR that I
have a bookmark to a page that discusses the issue, with screenshots.
For some reason I can't locate it with Google so it'll have to wait
till tomorrow. But the bottom line was that authors should better not
specify Verdana in their stylesheet, no matter how much they might
like it themselves.

Be assured that those who care enough to want it, will overrule you
and set Verdana at an _appropriate size_ (i.e appropriate for
themselves) in a user stylesheet. Those who don't, won't mind.
Jul 20 '05 #19

P: n/a
*Peter Foti* <pe****@systolicnetworks.com>:

It's too bad that CSS doesn't have a method for specifying the
font and size together.


Well, CSS has 'font-size-adjust' for this, which sadly only works in Win32
Mozillae and is thus not in CSS 2.1.

--
A magician pulls rabbits out of hats.
An experimental psychologist pulls habits out of rats.
Jul 20 '05 #20

P: n/a
*Bob Osola* <bo******@junk.invalid>:

I can't see that too small a font is any more troubling in any meaningful
way than an over-large one. Both can make customers equally unhappy.
There are people who can't read texts in small font-sizes. There are however
*much* less people who have reading problems with large fonts.
For myself - on the rare occasions that I use IE - I recoil from
its default large fonts as one would from bright car headlamps.
Ever considered to adjust them?
My customers seem to react likewise, judging by how quickly they email or
phone me up to complain about my occasional attempts at writing non-font-
size-fiddled pages for an IE audience.
Tell them that it's a legal requirement. Although that is not true except in
very few countries maybe, it is helpful.
I was looking for solid technical reasons why the Briggs technique might
be wrong or invalid in some way. Looks like it's just a personal opinion
type of issue after all.


It's an accessibility type of issue.
On the Noodle Incident page I hit '+' by reflex three times to increase the
zoom to 130%. I could have read it otherwise, too, but not conveniently.
That should of course not be taken as an excuse for decreasing font-size,
like "Advanced users know how to increase the size, so it's okay to lower it
for unadvanced ones."

--
Useless Fact #4:
Coca Cola was originally green.
Jul 20 '05 #21

P: n/a
kchayka <kc*********@sihope.com> writes:
Haines Brown wrote:

It was my assumption that when you increase monitor resolution,
windows get smaller, and with them the size of text they
contain. It would be possible, then, to incease resolution to the
point that the text becomes too small to read. Where do I err
here?


I don't think you've erred, you just didn't carry this far enough.
While it is true that text gets increasingly smaller, there are
different ways to compensate for higher resolutions and keep text
comfortably readable.


The discussion often comes back the same thing. While the goal in
principle is to have the user define a document's format, in practice,
we need to anticipate what the typical user wants and try to offer him
that. That the end user _can_ and sometimes _should_ redefine a
document's format does not mean the document producers escape making
choices affecting format. We have to set something, and it seems
important to employ guidelines that make these decisions wise ones.

For example, I've worked as a simple typist in an office environment,
and it was made very clear that we were not supposed to customize our
(Windows) desktops. So questions such as font style, family, size,
etc. were in fact decided by a documents' producer and by IE's default
settings. True, we define function, not format, but we know what the
practical effect on format of our functional assignments.

My original question had to do with the real situation I faced, and
I'm sorry it resulted in a debate over principles, upon which probably
everyone agrees to begin with. The default serif font in my browser is
16, which seems large; my documents use font-size 1 em;. So why my
text size 16? (I realize the thrust of the thread was that I've be
better off using 100% instead of 1 em, but that's not the issue).

--
Haines Brown
br****@hartford-hwp.com
kb****@arrl.net
www.hartford-hwp.com

Jul 20 '05 #22

P: n/a
Peter Foti wrote:
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph. gla.ac.uk...
http://www.thenoodleincident.com/tutorials/typography/
Aaargh, microfonts (on my MSIE). [1]


Alan, what do you mean "microfonts"?


The fonts were small. They were for me, too. In fact, the first
thing I did when I loaded the page was hit <ctrl +> to reverse the
author's "sane" [cough] css. Uh, ok, that was the second thing I did.
The first was to ask myself, "why does the author think he knows
better than I what font-size I prefer? Idiot."
I tried viewing the page with MSIE and the smallest text size, and
it was still quite readable (Win NT 4, IE 6, 1280x1024 on 19"
monitor).


I could give you my specs, I suppose, but I'm not sure what they'll
add to the thread.

--
Brian
follow the directions in my address to email me

Jul 20 '05 #23

P: n/a
*Haines Brown* <br****@teufel.hartford-hwp.com>:

The default serif font in my browser is 16,
Points, I presume. Or pixels?
which seems large;
May be. I do use 16px text as default in my browser.
my documents use font-size 1 em;. So why my text size 16?


Er, 1em or 100% of 16px (or 16pt) is 16px (16pt). What else did you expect?

--
Useless Fact #1:
Barbie's measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33 [99-58-84].
Jul 20 '05 #24

P: n/a
In article <Xn*****************************@193.229.0.31>, one of infinite monkeys
at the keyboard of "Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote:
to him. Browser defaults are generally too big on the average, but that's
That seems to originate with M$ setting huge default sizes, perhaps to
try and balkanize the web and reduce interoperability.
probably _intentional_, and surely useful. It is certainly better to use a
little too large than a little too small font.
I'd disagree that any such thing is useful.

On my desktop, I set a default text size that appears in terminal windows,
text editors, my newsreader, etc. Can anyone explain why a web browser
should default to any other size?
Clueless authors who second-guess that browser vendors guessed wrong
are bound to cause damage.
Agreed.
This is something that the vendors got _right_.


- subject to an interesting definition of "right" in some cases.

--
Nick Kew

In urgent need of paying work - see http://www.webthing.com/~nick/cv.html
Jul 20 '05 #25

P: n/a
In article <87************@teufel.hartford-hwp.com>, one of infinite monkeys
at the keyboard of Haines Brown <br****@teufel.hartford-hwp.com> wrote:
My problem is that my "1 em" seems smaller than the "80%". This is
what I don't understand.


I would infer one or more of:
* there's something you haven't told us
* a browser bug

--
Nick Kew

In urgent need of paying work - see http://www.webthing.com/~nick/cv.html
Jul 20 '05 #26

P: n/a
Haines Brown wrote:

My original question had to do with the real situation I faced, and
I'm sorry it resulted in a debate over principles, upon which probably
everyone agrees to begin with. The default serif font in my browser is
16, which seems large; my documents use font-size 1 em;. So why my
text size 16? (I realize the thrust of the thread was that I've be
better off using 100% instead of 1 em, but that's not the issue).


default font sizes tend to be large because if they are larger than you'd
like you can easily adjust them...if they are too small for you to read
them you are screwed, you won't be able to read the instructions on how to
adjust the default size

--
eric
www.ericjarvis.co.uk
all these years I've waited for the revolution
and all we end up getting is spin
Jul 20 '05 #27

P: n/a
ni**@fenris.webthing.com (Nick Kew) wrote:
probably _intentional_, and surely useful. It is certainly better to
use a little too large than a little too small font.
I'd disagree that any such thing is useful.


When you have to select an initial basic font size, and a browser vendor has
to, then it is quite reasonable to prefer readability to esthetics. You
_know_ that whatever size you select, it will be non-optimal for a huge
number of people. Actually, it will be optimal for a minority only, anyway.
So the question is how to minimize the damage, and a person whose ability to
read the text is reduced should weigh more than a person who just finds the
text a bit too large to his taste
On my desktop, I set a default text size that appears in terminal
windows, text editors, my newsreader, etc. Can anyone explain why a web
browser should default to any other size?


Well, _that_ is a different thing. Of course if there is some font size that
should be regarded as being chosen by the user, a Web browser should use it
as the initial basic font size. But this just moves the issue to a different
level. And if the factory settings make the basic font size in a system too
small, why shouldn't a Web browser be a little more user-friendly?

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Jul 20 '05 #28

P: n/a
On Wed, 5 Nov 2003 01:53:12 +0100, Christoph Paeper
<cr***********@gmx.net> wrote:
*Bob Osola* <bo******@junk.invalid>:
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in
news:Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph. gla.ac.uk:
"Can you make the text smaller?"

And the answer is "yes, in your browser".


Fair point. But not one that my very non-tech customers want to have to
bother with.


Must be the same kind of people that doesn't adjust the rear mirrors in
their cars.


<grin>

It's a strange one, this. I can easily believe that there are a fair few
people who don't know that they can adjust the text size in their
browser. I can believe that some of those find their default size too
large. But can it really be true, as many web authors seem to think,
that the latter group makes up the vast majority of web readers?

I receive quite a lot of Word documents from a wide variety of sources,
including people with no technical knowledge. And those documents
*hardly ever* have the default text size - either the font has been
adjusted, or the zoom, or both.

Now I know that Word users don't map 1-to-1 onto Web readers. But if the
vast majority of Word users know how to adjust their text size - and
prove it by actually doing so - can it really be true that the vast
majority of Web readers do not know how to?

--
Stephen Poley

http://www.xs4all.nl/~sbpoley/webmatters/
Jul 20 '05 #29

P: n/a
> Now I know that Word users don't map 1-to-1 onto Web readers. But if
the
vast majority of Word users know how to adjust their text size - and
prove it by actually doing so - can it really be true that the vast
majority of Web readers do not know how to?


I can well believe that there are many readers who don't know it is
possible because their browser doesn't make it obvious that it is
possible. For example Internet Explorer, with its large market share,
hides it under View | Text Size. Many of us might not consider that
particularly hidden but it certainly isn't as prominent as having
buttons to do it. Firebird has one less level of menu but you still
need to look and Opera goes for the zoom option but still hidden away.

The second issue is that because authors do have this tendency to play
around with the font sizes the reader may really need to adjust the
font sizes on a per site basis and selecting from menus quickly
becomes tedious. Keyboard shortcuts as in Firebird or Opera can help
once you become used to using them but it is a habit you need to
develop over time.

What is needed is for the capability to increase and decrease font
size to be much more prominent with 'larger', 'smaller' and 'give me
back my default' buttons and ideally also the ability to remember the
font settings on a per site basis should it be so desired.

Ideally it should also be possible to have the adjustments only be
temporary - perhaps for the site you are on - so you then have your
own choice of default size that applies to each new site you come to.
You shouldn't be affected by changes you had to made for another site.
Jul 20 '05 #30

P: n/a
Haines Brown <br****@teufel.hartford-hwp.com> wrote:
First, the philosophical question. I well understand the point that
the aim is to have the end use define just how big he wants the type
to appear. But that does not exhaust the issue. Browsers come
with defaults that, I presume, aim to please the greatest number, so
that the minimal number of people will have to adjustment their
browsers.
Exactly. If you leave the font size alone (or set it to 1em, 100% and
hope there are no browser bugs) then anyone who can't read it can only
blame themseleves.
I had assumed that one aimed for the default size, and that's why I
defined my font-size as 1 em; The implication was that it makes no
sense to do that, but than what is wrong in my thinking? For example,
consider the following:
It may trigger bugs. So maybe leaving well alone is better that
setting an explicit 1em.
I glanced at a couple documents on line that had internally defined
styles. One (not CSS) had font=1, and the other had font-size 80%
;.
The html <font size=1> is not the same as the CSS font-size: 1em;
In case you were under that impression. HTML size=1 may be roughly
equal to CSS font-size: x-small; (or xx-small if you're Microsoft,
don't ask).
Are these two definitions not referencing the size that the end
user set in his browser?
Respectively, sort of and yes.
The first uses the default size
No the first uses a sizes two steps smaller than the default. Where
the exact size of the 'step' is up to the browser.
and the
second compensates for the tendency someone mentioned for browsers to
make the type too large.
That's what the author who used 80% was probably thinking.
My problem is that my "1 em" seems smaller than the "80%". This is
what I don't understand.
Really? 1em or HTML size=1?
If 1em is smaller than 80% then something is wrong.
I was asked, what did I mean when I said my browser by default set
serif type to size 16. I don't understand the question. In my browser,
I can set preferences. Under fonts, I can set the style and size for
serif fonts. By default serifs use Times, size 16. Those are the
values that are shown without my having done any customization.
Opera user? The font-size selector box in Opera doesn't label the
units, in previous versions they were points, but in the latest
versions they are pixels.

Mozilla does label the units as pixels. Windows IE doesn't expose that
much control to the user.

The factory default font in almost any Windows browsers is Times New
Roman at 16px (often labelled as 12pt in older browsers).
Then the issue of resolution came up. It was my assumption that when
you increase monitor resolution, windows get smaller, and with them
the size of text they contain. It would be possible, then, to incease
resolution to the point that the text becomes too small to read. Where
do I err here?


When you adjust your resolution you should also adjust your font size.
Smarter systems would take care of this automatically. Today's systems
aren't all that smart.

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>
Jul 20 '05 #31

P: n/a
Andreas Prilop <nh******@rrzn-user.uni-hannover.de> wrote:
Haines Brown <br****@teufel.hartford-hwp.com> wrote:
I did a reinstall of my friendly browser in a different environment,
and I am surprised to find that its default for serif is Times 16 and
monospace is Courier 12.


What is "Times 16"? What is Courier 12"?


Times New Roman at 16px
Courier at 12px

Note that the more recent browsers specify font-sizes in pixels,
whilst older ones use points

In most cases today's browsers (and a large number of older ones) map
12pt to 16px, i.e. 1pt = 4/3 px.

TNR at 16px (12pt) is the factory default font in just about every
Windows browser I've used.

Older Mac browsers tended to use 12px, and some newer Mac browsers use
14px. But most modern Mac browsers use 16px in emulation of Windows.

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>
Jul 20 '05 #32

P: n/a
In article <mn********************************@4ax.com>,
Stephen Poley <sb*****@xs4all.nl> wrote:
Now I know that Word users don't map 1-to-1 onto Web readers. But if the
vast majority of Word users know how to adjust their text size - and
prove it by actually doing so - can it really be true that the vast
majority of Web readers do not know how to?


It can be that they think the feature does not work, since so many
websites are authored in a way that restricts users from modifying
font-size in a certain browser.

--
Kris
kr*******@xs4all.netherlands (nl)
Jul 20 '05 #33

P: n/a
Jukka K. Korpela / 2003-11-05 11:10:
ni**@fenris.webthing.com (Nick Kew) wrote:
probably _intentional_, and surely useful. It is certainly better to
use a little too large than a little too small font.


I'd disagree that any such thing is useful.


When you have to select an initial basic font size, and a browser vendor has
to, then it is quite reasonable to prefer readability to esthetics. You
_know_ that whatever size you select, it will be non-optimal for a huge
number of people. Actually, it will be optimal for a minority only, anyway.
So the question is how to minimize the damage, and a person whose ability to


I agree that MS did the right thing when they selected a bit larger
font size for the default than majority of the people would have
selected. It's just that this way huge majority *can read* the
pages. If default font size were smaller, then it might be that the
user couldn't read the page at all. Too large font decreases reading
speed, too small font size prevents you from reading at all. Which
one you would select if you cannot select optimal size?

However, the *correct* way to minimize the damage would have been to
popup a dialog the first time the browser was started with a
paragraph of sample text and a control to change size of the text.
The user would have been instructed to use the control to adjust the
size of the text as he wants. Had MS did this, no web designer had
ever adjusted the font size smaller than default because they would
have known that the "default" font size is the best.

The mistake done by MS doesn't change the fact that *the default
font size is the best* for the user. If the poor user is using MS
product, it might be that the font size is a bit too large for him.
Otherwise, the default font size is just the size the user wants to
read. Assuming anything else is a serious mistake unless you're
talking about private intranet content and in that case you're in a
wrong newsgroup.

To make things even worse, MS decided to not provide controls to
adjust font size easily. And this limitation was implemented *only*
in the browser version that was distributed with the most common
operating system. Even their MacOS version of the same browser had
this control easily accessible in the user interface.

--
Mikko

Jul 20 '05 #34

P: n/a
Kris / 2003-11-05 12:43:
In article <mn********************************@4ax.com>,
Stephen Poley <sb*****@xs4all.nl> wrote:
Now I know that Word users don't map 1-to-1 onto Web readers. But if the
vast majority of Word users know how to adjust their text size - and
prove it by actually doing so - can it really be true that the vast
majority of Web readers do not know how to?


It can be that they think the feature does not work, since so many
websites are authored in a way that restricts users from modifying
font-size in a certain browser.

That description fits perfectly for my definition of "does not
work". Are you trying to say that the font size setting of MSIE does
work?
Yes, I'm aware that the setting does *something* on some sites but
its behaviour is more often than not pretty much random. Selecting
"larger" usually gives larger text. How much? Nobody knows...

Yes, I'm also aware that it's possible for the author to workaround
all those bugs and the visiting MSIE user would be able to use the
setting as intended. Unfortunately, because the feature is so
seriously broken, nobody bothers to try the setting anymore the time
they hit the "correctly" authored page.

--
Mikko

Jul 20 '05 #35

P: n/a
Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
However, the *correct* way to minimize the damage would have been to
popup a dialog the first time the browser was started with a paragraph
of sample text and a control to change size of the text. The user would
have been instructed to use the control to adjust the size of the text
as he wants. Had MS did this, no web designer had ever adjusted the font
size smaller than default because they would have known that the
"default" font size is the best.


But this is not just Micros*ft's fault. There were browsers prior to IE.
--
Johannes Koch
In te domine speravi; non confundar in aeternum.
(Te Deum, 4th cent.)

Jul 20 '05 #36

P: n/a
Mikko Rantalainen wrote:

Are you trying to say that the font size setting of MSIE does work?


It does work in cases where the author did not set absolute font sizes.
Unfortunately, the web is rife with pages using fonts in px and pt
units, thus View|Text Size appears to be broken.

--
To email a reply, remove (dash)un(dash). Mail sent to the un
address is considered spam and automatically deleted.
Jul 20 '05 #37

P: n/a
"Christoph Paeper" <cr***********@gmx.net> wrote in message
news:bo***********@ariadne.rz.tu-clausthal.de...
My customers seem to react likewise, judging by how quickly they email or phone me up to complain about my occasional attempts at writing non-font- size-fiddled pages for an IE audience.
Tell them that it's a legal requirement. Although that is not true except

in very few countries maybe, it is helpful.


Yes, lie to your customer... I'm sure they'll appreciate that (especially if
they ever learn the truth).

I think a better approach would be to explain to them that by being a
font-Nazi, they are limiting their viewing audience, making their site less
accessible, and potentially stomping all over the preferred font size of
their users (potentially alienating those users). Then perhaps tell them
how they can set their own preferred size.

Regards,
Peter Foti
Jul 20 '05 #38

P: n/a
On Wed, 5 Nov 2003, Christoph Paeper wrote:
*Peter Foti* <pe****@systolicnetworks.com>:

It's too bad that CSS doesn't have a method for specifying the
font and size together.
Well, CSS has 'font-size-adjust' for this,


But note that Verdana, at a given nominal pt size, looks
/subjectively/ even larger than its em/ex ratio would imply.

font-size-adjust was designed to compensate for /objective/ em/ex
values; but to be fully effective for this purpose, one would need
some kind of /subjective/ adjustment, it seems to me.
which sadly only works in Win32 Mozillae and is thus not in CSS 2.1.


Indeed. It would have gone *some* way to level the playing field, in
spite of what I said above.

Google suggests some interesting reading at and near to
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/...3May/0035.html

Jul 20 '05 #39

P: n/a
On Wed, 5 Nov 2003, Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Tue, 4 Nov 2003, Peter Foti wrote:
I'm curious... if I set a font size to Verdana at 84%,


The problem with authors specifying Verdana has been discussed
perennially, on this group and elsewhere. In the office ISTR that I
have a bookmark to a page that discusses the issue, with screenshots.


It's http://www.xs4all.nl/~sbpoley/webmatters/verdana.html

My apologies to him for not being able to put my finger on it last
night - I blame the Cab.Sauv, to be honest. :-}
Jul 20 '05 #40

P: n/a
In article Johannes Koch wrote:
Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
However, the *correct* way to minimize the damage would have been to
popup a dialog the first time the browser was started with a paragraph
of sample text and a control to change size of the text. The user would
have been instructed to use the control to adjust the size of the text
as he wants. Had MS did this, no web designer had ever adjusted the font
size smaller than default because they would have known that the
"default" font size is the best.


But this is not just Micros*ft's fault. There were browsers prior to IE.


IIRC, setting normal font size was one of the first things I did,
whenever I did install new version of netscape. The real problem is that
when web become widely used, people whitout any clues started to use
browsers, and were unable to find setting to change the font size. Of
course, the fact that there was no such setting in IE didn't help them at
all.

Of course, there was no mispractice on using font-sizes then. One of the
resons were that there were not enaugh tools to set fontsize "correct"
for authors browser using HTML. When CSS was implemented, it was first
missused for changing fontsize. Now I use 2kB stylesheet to set font
sizes, one line would be enaugh whiout clueless authors. (And my problem
is that I have good vision and low res monitor...)

--
Lauri Raittila <http://www.iki.fi/lr> <http://www.iki.fi/zwak/fonts>
Saapi lähettää meiliä, jos aihe ei liity ryhmään, tai on yksityinen
tjsp., mutta älä lähetä samaa viestiä meilitse ja ryhmään.

Jul 20 '05 #41

P: n/a
kchayka <kc*********@sihope.com> wrote:
increasingly smaller


Makes me ponder ...
Jul 20 '05 #42

P: n/a
Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> wrote:
What is "Times 16"? What is Courier 12"?


Times New Roman at 16px
Courier at 12px

Older Mac browsers tended to use 12px, and some newer Mac browsers use
14px. But most modern Mac browsers use 16px in emulation of Windows.


Still we have a different relation between points and pixels on
Macintosh and Windows - not to speak of various Unices.

--
But thats what FP puts in to the page, so i asume thats correct
Harry H. Arends in microsoft.public.frontpage.client
Jul 20 '05 #43

P: n/a
Kris <kr*******@xs4all.netherlands> wrote:
so many
websites are authored in a way that restricts users from modifying
font-size in a certain browser.


If your browser causes you to stumble, tear it out.

--
But thats what FP puts in to the page, so i asume thats correct
Harry H. Arends in microsoft.public.frontpage.client
Jul 20 '05 #44

P: n/a
Andreas Prilop <nh******@rrzn-user.uni-hannover.de> wrote:
Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> wrote:
What is "Times 16"? What is Courier 12"?


Times New Roman at 16px
Courier at 12px

Older Mac browsers tended to use 12px, and some newer Mac browsers use
14px. But most modern Mac browsers use 16px in emulation of Windows.


Still we have a different relation between points and pixels on
Macintosh and Windows - not to speak of various Unices.


Yes. We even have different relationships between points and pixels on
the same version of Windows (i.e. switch to Large Fonts).

This is one reason why modern browsers have taken to specifying the
default font size in pixels.

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>
Jul 20 '05 #45

P: n/a
Bob Osola wrote:
"Alan J. Flavell" <fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote in
news:Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph. gla.ac.uk:
but have found that the very first thing users say on seeing the site
is: "Can you make the text smaller?"

Actually - no.
And the answer is "yes, in your browser".


Fair point. But not one that my very non-tech customers want to have to
bother with. Most have no clue that one can resize the text in IE, let
alone (gasp!) use another browser. I guess it depends on which group of
end users one chooses - or is obliged, in my case - to please first.
Thanks for the response.


Here's a more sane workaround for bugs in IE and to get a resonable
font/font-size:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">

<html lang="en">
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type"
content="text/html; charset=US-ASCII">
<title>Font/font size test</title>
<style type="text/css">
@media screen {
body { font: message-box }
div.html-body {
font-style: normal;
font-weight: normal;
voice-family: "\"}\"";
voice-family: inherit;
font-size: 110%;
}
}
</style>
</head>
<body>
<div class="html-body">

<p>
Fair point. But not one that my very non-tech customers want to have
to bother with. Most have no clue that one can resize the text in
IE, let alone (gasp!) use another browser. I guess it depends on
which group of end users one chooses - or is obliged, in my case -
to please first. Thanks for the response.</p>

</div>
</body>
</html>

I have increased the default 'message-box' font size by 10% just in
case, like Jukka K. Korpela have already explained. I've hide this
propery setting from IE5 using "The voice-family Hack" explained by
Eric Meyer <http://www.ericmeyeroncss.com/bonus/trick-hide.html>,
because IE5 doesn't understand the 'font: message-box' and would
increase the default font font size by 10%.

--
Stanimir

Jul 20 '05 #46

P: n/a
Stanimir Stamenkov wrote:

Here's a more sane workaround for bugs in IE and to get a resonable
font/font-size:

body { font: message-box }
Man, that's waaaaaay too small.
I have increased the default 'message-box' font size by 10% just in
case,


That's still way too small. On my box in my browser of choice,
message-box at 125% approximates my browser default text size, but it's
a different font than my default - one I find tolerable for reading the
snippets of text found in menus, messages boxes and other GUI elements,
but one I don't care to use for reading web pages.

None of the system fonts comes any closer to my preferred browser
default text size. They are all puny in comparison and inappropriate
for body text, IMNSHO.

--
To email a reply, remove (dash)un(dash). Mail sent to the un
address is considered spam and automatically deleted.
Jul 20 '05 #47

P: n/a
kchayka wrote:
Stanimir Stamenkov wrote:
Here's a more sane workaround for bugs in IE and to get a resonable
font/font-size:

body { font: message-box }


Man, that's waaaaaay too small.


I've wrote: it is just more sane compared to the straight
'font-size: 60%' (whoo, that could be really small if I haven't set
a minimum font size in Mozilla)... it is surely big enough for
anyone to read although it is probably not the preferred font/font
size for everybody to read web pages.

Again, I've proposed a more sane workaround for the people on "the
other side" - which think the defaults are too big (and you think
your defaults are too small, may be you should consider setting them
larger?).

--
Stanimir

Jul 20 '05 #48

P: n/a
Stanimir Stamenkov wrote:
kchayka wrote:
Stanimir Stamenkov wrote:
Here's a more sane workaround for bugs in IE and to get a resonable
font/font-size:

body { font: message-box }

Man, that's waaaaaay too small.


I've wrote: it is just more sane compared to the straight 'font-size:
60%' (whoo, that could be really small if I haven't set a minimum font
size in Mozilla)... it is surely big enough for anyone to read although
it is probably not the preferred font/font size for everybody to read
web pages.

Again, I've proposed a more sane workaround for the people on "the other
side" - which think the defaults are too big (and you think your
defaults are too small, may be you should consider setting them larger?).


And I've forgot: Using it that way doesn't prevent IE users from
using the zoom text feature, too.

--
Stanimir

Jul 20 '05 #49

P: n/a
*Stanimir Stamenkov* <s7****@netscape.net>:

Here's a more sane workaround for bugs in IE and to get a resonable
font/font-size:

body { font: message-box }
div.html-body {
font-style: normal;
font-weight: normal;
font-size: 110%;
}

I have increased the default 'message-box' font size by 10% just in
case, like Jukka K. Korpela have already explained.


If there were as much system fonts defined in CSS as there are system
colors, this approach might be useful, namely if "font: window" was
possible. But even if it was there, in IE it would probably refer to that
same size some people find to large and not the size used in other text
editing applications.

--
Useless Fact #1:
Barbie's measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33 [99-58-84].
Jul 20 '05 #50

55 Replies

This discussion thread is closed

Replies have been disabled for this discussion.