As a web­site devel­op­er who spe­cialis­es in CSS-based designs, I obvi­ous­ly hang around (i.e. read blogs of, par­tic­i­pate in mail­ing lists with) oth­er like devel­op­ers. One of the legit­i­mate con­cerns many—if not all—of them have is the rel­a­tive­ly less sup­port Inter­net Explor­er has for CSS 2.1. Part of the rea­son for this is the fact that the cur­rent ver­sion of IE is near­ly three years old, while every oth­er pop­u­lar, stan­dards-com­pli­ant brows­er has had a major release with­in the past year.

A com­mon issue such design­ers have is users hav­ing the abil­i­ty to resize web­page text to meet their lev­el of read­ing com­fort. All mod­ern browsers have resiz­ing capa­bil­i­ties; how­ev­er, some have more pow­er­ful capa­bil­i­ties than oth­ers do. For exam­ple, IE can only size text to five sizes (small­est, small­er, medi­um, larg­er, and largest) while Opera can resize text and images from 20% to 1000% of the orig­i­nal size. As well, IE can only resize rel­a­tive­ly sized text (i.e. em, pt, cm, in, %), while oth­er browsers can resize even absolute­ly sized text (i.e. px, pt, cm, in).

Giv­en the com­mon and pre­dom­i­nant dis­ap­proval of IE’s rel­a­tive­ly low sup­port for CSS 2.1, many peo­ple often attribute IE’s inabil­i­ty to resize absolute­ly sized text as a bug. Some even go as far as say­ing IE is bro­ken in this regard. I strong­ly dis­agree with this notion.

IE is not bro­ken. It does exact­ly what the design­er tells it to do. If a design­er spec­i­fies s/he wants a font sized based on 12 pix­els then it ren­ders the fonts based on 12 pix­els. In actu­al­i­ty, it is the oth­er browsers that are “broken” since they incor­rect­ly ren­der the text in an effort to allow users to resize text.

I repeat, IE is not bro­ken.

That being said, pix­el-based text is a bad prac­tise for copy. Any user com­ing to your web­site should be able to resize at least the copy text. This abil­i­ty should not be ham­pered at all, and should be inde­pen­dent of what brows­er s/he uses. Ide­al­ly, all text should be resiz­able, and images should not be used to sole­ly present text.

In con­clu­sion, the inabil­i­ty to resize text in Inter­net Explor­er is not the fault of Microsoft engi­neers; it’s the fault of incon­sid­er­ate web­site devel­op­ers.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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