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Subject: Re: Font sizes in mail and web pages
From: Jamie Zawinski <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:IETF working group on HTML in e-mail <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 11 Jun 1998 08:45:40 -0700

text/plain (38 lines)

My understanding of how the FONT tag works is that the SIZE parameter
goes from 1 to 7, and the default size is 3.  Period.  If you use the
font size 3, you are saying "the default font size the user has set."
If you use font size 2, you are saying "slightly smaller than the
default font size the user has set."

The problem described earlier was that someone liked their mail reader
to use a smaller font than their web browser.  And they accomplished
this by using SIZE=2 rather than by using SIZE=3 but changing their
default font!

People do this all the time on the web.  There are *lots* of web sites
out there that begin with <FONT SIZE="-1"> which are nearly unreadable
to me, because my default font (my SIZE=3 font) is the smallest font in
which I'm comfortable reading large pieces of text.  The SIZE=2 font
looks like a footnote.

My only theory about why there are so many web sites like this is that
the default font size on Windows (or perhaps just in IE?) is rather
large, and most people compensate for this by changing their web pages,
rather than by changing their system's default font.

Clearly that's the wrong way to go about it.

But equally clearly, educating those millions of users about the error
of their ways is impossible.

If you want to have a different default font size in your mail reader
and in your web browser, great -- more power to you.  But your mail
composition tool had better have the same notion of your default font
size as your mail reader does, and your web page editor had better have
the same notion of your default font size as your web browser does, or
WYS won't be SWYG.  (This implies, I guess, that if your mail reader and
web browser are different, but the composition tool is common, it had
better know the difference between its two modes.)

Jamie Zawinski      about:jwz

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