Written by Tom Dolan on December 16, 2004

UsableType is a new online resource dedicated to issues surrounding ‘typography for the world wide web.’ There’s a good bit there (especially the Style Guide section), and they’re currently featuring the provocative rant, The Battle is Won, about default font sizing on the web. Personally, I’m not sure it’s time to hang the banner on the aircraft carrier, but it’s interesting stuff. Good comment link to the Noodle Incident’s 76% solution.


  1. Hrant says:

    Tom, could you please tell me what this all means? I do understand that/how text sizes come out different in different platform-browser combinations, but do these articles describe some kind of new trick/breakthrough? Also, is there some kind of consensus about ideal PPEM size, specifically for reading? One thing that at least one person seems to be missing is that we read onscreen at a greater distance than onhand.


  2. Tom Dolan says:

    While ‘breakthrough’ is a strong word, these articles describe an approach which I think is worth following. As to your second question first: There has been significant debate in the web designer community around which measure to actually use to specify text size. Through the use of style sheets there are several approaches, none wholely satisfactory to may page layouts. The first factor here is allowing the user to change text sizing, which is now easily done in most browsers, except when text is specified in pixels (PX). Pixels however have been the web designer’s measure of choice, as the more flexible ‘default’ sizings provide too few options, and default very differently in different browser versions. The “76% Solution” is a very well researched approach that creates a new default that is incredibly consistent across major browsers, gives designers options in sizings that they will find attractive, and gives the user the option of adjusting sizing if they see fit. It’s a better approach than what’s commonly used today.

  3. Hrant says:

    OK, I get it. Man, I sure love the smell of a good hack in the morning.

    Question: What about the effect of this on the full-anti-aliased text rendering in OSX – any significance? Does Panther still increment size in steps or continuously?


Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!