[thelist] Font Sizing

Mark Gallagher mark at cyberfuddle.com
Tue May 7 07:29:01 CDT 2002

Feingold Josh S wrote:
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>>(OT/META: What's with all the multipart messages flying around this
>>list, anyway?  Text not good enough for any of us?)
> For some reason, my text messages get changed to HTML format between my
> email client and the evolt server.  I don't know where, or why, but that's
> how it goes...

It's not just your posts - it seems to happen with rather a lot of them.

>>The answer to both those issues is simple: "Yes, very true.  So what?"
> I didn't realize that this was such a religious issue.  I guess I haven't
> been around long enough.

It can be an issue that arouses much passion.  We have, on one side,
those that like *complete* control of *everything*.  We have, on one
side, talentless hacks.  And we have, on one side, conscientious people
who would *like* to help but who've read on A List Apart that you only
get to heaven if you use pixels for font-size[0].  That covers the Pixel
People.  We also have, on one side, those who use ems because they've
been taught it's The Right Thing To Do.  We also have, on one side,
those with rather bad eyesight[1].  We also have, on one side, those who
use IE for various reasons.  That's the ems/% side.  We also have...
well, you get the idea.

Personally I prefer %s, because they're easier to think around than ems,
and don't arouse certain problems with IE and resizing too much.  And
yes, I can get quite passionate about that (I have poor eyesight, after
all).  I didn't realise I was being fanatical *here*, though...

> When I look at the issue of font sizing, I would imagine that people who
> have font issues (e.g. their screen is 2400 x 2400, or whatever, or have
> trouble seeing small fonts, experience the problem of fixed fonts daily
> around the internet.  As such, they already have tweaked their browsers to
> account for this issue, and I can safely ignore it.  This lets me use the
> font size that I would like and get additional aesthetic value without
> decreasing my usability.

Hmmm.  Let's say we have, ohhh, one hundred sites with a tiny fixed
font-size.  People complain about them night and day, but the designers
are too ignorant, or uncaring, or would like to help but don't dare
deviate from the safety of pixels, or would like to help but think any
text larger than 8px Helvetica would really screw their design.  Let's
say we have a hundred designers wander along, look at these sites, and
say "geez, users must be used to this sort of crap.  If they don't like
our designs, well, they can do what they were doing with the other 100."
  So these new designers design sites with small fixed font-sizes.  Now
another hundred designers walk along, and see that The Way Things Are
Done is to use small, unresizeable fonts.  So...

Alright, so it's a bit of a reach to use the "Camel's Nose" argument
here.  I'm tired.

> So I guess it comes down to this:  if there is a large portion of sites
> which use "incorrect" methods and IT HAS BEEN THIS WAY FOR A LONG TIME so
> that almost all browsers allow easy accommodation, and there is no reason
> for a user not to make the tweak, can we assume that it is safe to use these
> "incorrect" methods going forward?

Font tags and table soup for all? :o)

[0] That doesn't explain why their bloody text is so *small*
[1] That doesn't explain why they can't have large fixed-sized text

Mark Gallagher

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