MS Forum Text Size

by cdwise 6. May 2009 00:28

Why 67% font size? Usually when I see something like that it is because the person responsible did so because they believed that 67% was the magic number where all browsers showed text as the same physical size. The idea behind this approach is that you set a base font size then scale items in ems from that. While I think this is an over controlling approach that still allows font sizes to scale in IE using Text > Size > Larger it is a reasonable approach.

 However, the only way this works well is if you then scale every element on the page to a reasonable size. Let’s do some math so you can see what I’m talking about.

Default font size without any scaling is 12pt or 16px on both Windows and OS X systems. So when you do the math you get 8pt or 10.72 (which may be rounded down to 10px). Now if you are on a high resolution screen that is the equivalent of 4.5-5pt print. Not something comfortable for most to read. Even on a “normal” screen 10pt text is the smallest you should use for text that is comfortable to read for more than say a menu item. So if you use 67% as the page level default to get the equivalent of 10pt type you would need to use 1.25em for body text.

So what does MS do? They use 67% with no multiplier or other scaling for body text.

How do I know this?

Because this morning I noticed that the font seems smaller than normal when I went to http://social.expression.microsoft.com/forums/en-us/web/threads/ and discovered that the text seems smaller than before. So I opened it in the page in Expression Web and used its excellent CSS tools to see what is being applied.

So why didn’t MS scale the text so something more readable?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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