So where are we on text size and CSS these days? Hmm, time to review I think. Roughly in reverse chronological order:
- Day 26 Using Relative Font Sizes from Mark Pilgram’s “Dive Into Accessibility: 30 days to a more accessible web site”
- Text Sizing relative font sizing techniques across browsers, platforms, and default text size settings. Owen Briggs also includes 264 screenshots of these techniques in action on various combinations of platforms and browsers. (Whew, glad someone did it.)
- A List Apart: Size Matters: Making CSS Keywords Work (11 May 2001) Todd Fahrner.
- Sizing Up Text on the Next Browsers (12 Apr 2000) Steve Mulder. Yikes. The new browsers simulate 97dpi on Macs. Serving up a different style sheet by platform breaks everywhere.
- A List Apart: Fear of Style Sheets 4 (Jan 2000?) Zeldman on sticking with pixels
A recent, related resource is Eric Meyer’s “Tricking Browsers and Hiding Styles.”
In the last few days I’ve experienced the design challenge of CSS text size as both user and designer. The only conclusion that I can draw so far is that it’s Tuesday.
I’m tired of that rising panicky feeling that always accompanies a major release of a new browser version. Exploiting browser bugs to serve up different text sizes makes me nervous.
For body type, I would like to not specify any size. Let the user make the choice. However, popular browsers don’t make the resizing options obvious and it’s been a long time since designers left text at the default size, so most users haven’t a clue that they have the power when you give it to them. They just see that in their browsers’ default settings the text looks huge and unsophisticated as if it were a children’s book.
As we learn more about implementing relative units in our CSS, the trend seems to be to assume that the users’ settings are always at “children’s book.” So to display our more sophisticated text we say “take the users’ prefered size and make it smaller.” The reasons are compelling but the logic escapes me.
It’s so tiresome that specifying text size is still so difficult. It ceased to be an interesting problem ages ago.