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Subject: Re: Font sizes in mail and web pages
From: Jacob Palme <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:IETF working group on HTML in e-mail <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 11 Jun 1998 18:40:03 +0200

text/plain (41 lines)

At 17.45 +0200 98-06-11, Jamie Zawinski wrote:
> 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.

I agree. A web page creator should not use other SIZE than
SIZE=3 unless he knows very clearly why. For example,
SIZE=2 is suitable for certain table cell contents and
other contents which you know has only short line length.
And SIZE=4 or bigger is if you want something to be
especially large, such as some kind of header.

By using SIZE=3 for most of your text, you let the
recipient choose font depending on his eyesight, screen
size and other parameters.

The issue we need discuss is only how this should influence
software design. Good HTML editing and viewing software
should work like this:

(1) The user can select the font size which he or she is most comfortable
    when viewing text. The user should be able to set different values for
    plain text, HTML, and fixed-width text within HTML. Plain text and
    fixed-width text within HTML might use the same setting.

(2) When the user produces HTML e-mail, the default font size should become
    SIZE=3. Other SIZEs should only occur if the user explicitly specifies
    them. The user should not be able to specify a default, that all his/her
    HTML e-mail should be sent with other size than SIZE=3.

Jacob Palme <[log in to unmask]> (Stockholm University and KTH)
for more info see URL:
Between 26-31 June use phone No. +46-8-664 77 48 not +46-8-16 16 67

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