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Arrggghhh! Fixed size fonts!

The font size here on JoS is a bit small for my taste so I told IE to increase my font size from Medium to Large. And I discovered that JoS forums have a fixed font size!

Why do so many web-designers insist on using small, fixed-size fonts? This seems like an obvious user-interface no-no.

Hopefully this is just a glitch and will be fixed soon.

David Fischer
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

>> JoS forums have a fixed font size!

Not for me they don't, I'm able to use IE to change the size all I want. The only fonts that seem to be fixed are the ones used for the thread title and for 'Search:'

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I hold down the Ctrl key and use my mouse wheel to adjust the font size.

Dave B.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

David, you may want to try Opera. I also hate fixed-size fonts that IE won't let you scale. Opera scales everything when you tell it to.

Troy King
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

This is an IE bug. Use a different browser. :)

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

... or use a proxy like Privoxy :-) Personally, I prefer to use Verdana, which JoS doesn't use by default (Georgia, yuck), so wrote a regex to change it on the fly.

Frederic Faure
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Ctrl-Plus on Mozilla

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Works fine on IE 5.5.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Some of the fonts of the JoS site are indeed not scalable.

Why some web designers do this, is beyond my comprehension.

Possible ways to fix the problem:

1. Go to Internet Options, first tab, Accessibility, and check the "Ignore font sizes specified in web pages" checkbox.

In fact, IE won't ignore them, but will make them scalable.

2. Download MyIE2 from

This is a tabbed browser which is based on IE and has lots and lots of features.

Use CTRL + NUMERIC_PLUS to zoom web pages (that includes images).

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This forum works fine, and the fonts will resize in IE5.5

Many other sites don't however so get another browser. I recommend Netscape, but you can use Firebird (the latest version of Mozilla and basically the same as Netscape) or pay for Opera.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

No resizing problems whatsoever in IE 6.0

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Aye, works for me. What browser are you using?

Mr Jack
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

>>I'm able to use IE to change the size all I want
Aha. The fonts on the subject-listings page are fixed, which is where I found the problem. However, they are not fixed in the discussion view.

Thanks for the suggestion about the "Accessibility" setting. I quit reading years ago because of their fetish with fixed-size micro-fonts.

As for switching browsers: I shouldn't need to, and wouldn't even think about it if web designers wouldn't do obviously annoying things. :)

David Fischer
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The problem with setting ignore fonts in IE is that if the designer specified line spacing, even though IE will now let you enlarge the fonts, lines of text will overlap one another.

BTW, David saying you "shouldn't have to switch" isn't entirely fair -- you can't expect one piece of software to magically suit every need you have. If you love IE except for the fonts thing, then that's good. In my opinion, you have really low standards, or have never used a browser that focuses on the user experience, if you are happy with IE otherwise.

Now here's what's interesting -- I complained about this very thing in this very forum some time ago, and got about a dozen replies from designers saying how they know what's good and correct in design, and that basically stupid users should shut up and read the 8pt text they're given.

Troy King
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The real problem with web designers is that they nearly all have perfect vision, great video cards, fantastic monitors and work in a glare free room.  They furthermore refuse to believe that HTML should display differently for different users and do their level best to make sure that this never happens. The rest of us who live at some combination of adaquate technology and vision get the shaft when dealing with their design however attractive it is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Another point is that it is difficult to "do the right thing". When I was designing, I wanted to use CSS to define my fonts. It was easy to do so, but them I got the unresizable font problem.

Most designers just stop there. "Well, it works fine in my monitor". As it was my business, I just could not llow to lose users/customers because they were unable to read my site. It took some hours of internet search to undertand the font problem and discover that I had to use another size measurement system, not pixels (pretty default for CSS).

If you search for "css font size problem" on Google, you will find dozens of newbies to CSS trying to deal with this problem in discussion forum. Hardly someone suggests an easy and practical solution.

The solution I found was to use "em" to define the font size in CSS. Dunno if it was the best, but worked AFAIK.

Mauricio Macedo
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

That's what I thought, K, but the designers laid into me. They really think the rest of us care about their color schemes and leading preference and whatever "emotional reaction" they're trying to cause with their layout.

Troy King
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

argh my eyes... used to be excellent.

anyway, i reccomend adding the following to your pages for fun:
body { filter:blur(add=true, direction=90, strength=8); }

you can look into the other filters too. you can also make an IE context menu or toolbar button which inserts this into random pages.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Dave B, that is cool.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"David saying you "shouldn't have to switch" isn't entirely fair."

Troy, it is completely fair. The browser is not causing me problems, the designers' choices are. I shouldn't need a special program to "break" the settings the designers chose. Rather, the designers should make sensible decisions. Fixed-size micro-fonts (especially on low-contrast background colors) are not sensible choices.

David Fischer
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

It is IE's fault that it doesn't resize fonts declared in Pixels.  This is a well known problem.  That said, Site Designers still use Pixels to code font sizes for a number of reasons.  One is "making it pretty", which is a pretty bad excuse.  The other is that Ems and Percentages (and even keywords such as small) suffer in different browsers.  Some browsers have problems nesting Ems and Percentages.

For instance, my class .joel has a font size of .9em and my class .onsoftware has a font size of .8em.  I expect to see a font at 90% of the base declaration (as modified by the user if need be) for any text in .joel and at 80% when in .onsoftware.

And some browsers will do that, but others will show nasty nesting bugs when coded as follows <p class="joel">Very small text right <b class="onsoftware">here</b>.</p>.

The text "here" will show up at 80% * 90%, but only in some browsers.

What's worse is some other browsers can't size text below 76% without going into teeny-tiny-text-mode.  That's where you end up with incredibly small print even though your base font is 18px and your font is at .75%.  Yikes!

There are workarounds, but they're very cumbersome.  So if the designer really wants to make the text sizable they can declare everything in Ems or %s or keywords and suffer with some bad display issues on some browsers or code lots and lots of hackish CSS to circumvent the problem...

Or they can code in Pixels and let every browser but IE/5win and IE/5.5win resize everything anyway.  I choose the second on my professional sites, and the former when I don't mind coding away for hours without pay.

This issue has been just about discussed to death in the CSS circles, and its really not fair to yell at the coders.  Either use a better browser or deal with what you have.

Alternatively you could code your own CSS page for JoS and load it into your browser (I think IE/5 can do this), and override the default style-sheet with fontsizes based on keywords or ems or %s. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Mozilla - your choice :)

And javascript:void('#666666')

for me is a greate addition.

// you could copy it to location bar of current page, in addition for Mozilla you could set a "keyword" ("bg" for me) to type only "bg" in location. And I have put it into bookmarks and make a gesture (9) for it.
It's good for Eyes :)

Thursday, October 23, 2003

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