More type control with CSS3 Fonts

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

After the issue of the overhauled CSS3 Text module recently, I wonder if the Fonts module is due for similar treatment? The current working draft states:

The working group believes this draft is stable and it therefore issues a last call for comments, before requesting the status of Candidate Recommendation for the draft. The deadline for comments is 30 August 2002.

Four and a half years ago! That’s a long feedback process!

The module introduces a few new features into the coder’s lexicon, and although none of them are truly essential, they would be very useful; there is so much text on the web, but typography is the least-developed aspect of CSS.

font-size-adjust lets you preserve the height of type even if the user doesn’t have your first-choice font installed. Certain fonts have higher height aspect than others, so type that you’ve carefully styled to appear at a certain height could suddenly appear smaller if font substitution was used. font-size-adjust let’s you overcome that problem. The module provides some examples of font height aspects.

font-stretch is useful when displaying font families with condensed or extended faces, such as Arial. You can select absolute (condensed, extended, etc) or relative (narrower, wider) values.

font-effect allows you to apply ‘special effects’ to your font; choose from embossed, engraved, or outlined text.

font-smooth switches anti-aliasing on or off. Fonts look so ugly without anti-aliasing, I can’t imagine a situation where you’d ever turn it off!

Finally, three declarations with limited use outside of East Asia: font-emphasize-style and font-emphasize-position, along with the shorthand font-emphasize. These are used only to set emphasis on East Asian characters.

Will this module make it to recommendation in this form? Or will it make a comeback in altered form? I suspect the latter. But I think the most radical change to web typography will come not from the implementation of this module, but from the implementation of @font-face, which will facilitate the use of non-core fonts.

By the way, anyone interested in web typography should, if they haven’t already, read Richard Rutter and Mark Boulton’s Web Typography Sucks presentation. It’s a 4MB PDF download, but well worth ten minutes of your time.

Cross-posted to CSS3.info.

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