Tutorial 22: The Font of Foulness, Part I: Size Matters - HTML with Style | WebReference

Tutorial 22: The Font of Foulness, Part I: Size Matters - HTML with Style

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Tutorial 22: The Font of Foulness, Part I: Size Matters

The Web before the Font

A long, long time ago in a place not far away at all, the first Web browsers were written. These browsers were simple by today's standards: They grabbed a hold of an HTML document through any means necessary and displayed it on a screen.

Those were simple days, before HTML 2.0 and the Great Extension Wars, and HTML documents consisted mostly of paragraphs, headings, some emphasized text, and the odd link thrown in for good measure. Back then, the best browsers allowed users to customize the look of their Web pages, changing the fonts and colors of headings, emphasised text and links all over the place. This functionality is still there in today's browsers. Both Navigator (which was originally made by some of the people who made Mosaic) and Internet Explorer (which, interestingly, was also made by some of the people who made Mosaic) retain this functionality to this day, though few people I know of actually use red-on-blue 32pt Zapf Dingbats as their default look for links.

The reason is that when people started using the Web a lot, The Arts School Boys, assisted by The Guys From The Marketing Department, started complaining about the fact that the fonts on the company Web pages were a different shade of "diseased lilac" than the ones in the company brochure. Fearing that this might drive potential clients to think that the Web page referred to the other Advanced Integrated Technologies Group, Inc. of 24 Dirtrack Road, Greasepot, Alabama, they pestered browser makers so that they could specify the exact same shade of diseased lilac on their Web pages as they could in their snazzy desktop publishing software.

Browser makers happily obliged and gave the world the FONT element. The rest, as they say, is history.

The FONT element first appeared in Netscape Navigator 1.1 and was promptly picked up by Microsoft Internet Explorer. It was part of the HTML 3.2 Reference Specification from the W3C and was also a part of HTML 4.0 Transitional, though its use was deprecated in the hope that people would see the light and never use it again (fat chance). Unsurprisingly, its uses as described by Netscape, Microsoft and the W3C are different, and, in some cases, incompatible.

Thankfully, all of the uses of the FONT element can now be reliably replaced by appropriate CSS rules. What we're going to do here today is take a look at all of the potential uses of FONT and offer CSS alternatives.

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URL: http://www.webreference.com/html/tutorial22/1.html

Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: June 14, 2000
Revised: June 15, 2000