What Is the Meaning of Font Size?


Selecting the right kind of font can improve the overall design of a page as well as increase the readability of your content. Aside from the type of font, or font face, another thing to consider is the font size. Font size determines how big or small you want your font to appear on a page. Different fonts come in different sizes, which are determined and measured in various ways.

Font Size by Keywords

  • You can specify the size of the font by setting a keyword for it. The default size is "medium," and this depends on how your browser computes for that particular size. When defining fonts on your Web page, there are two types of size by keyword. One is absolute, such as "small,""medium" or "large." The other is relative, such as "smaller" or "larger," each depending on the previously defined size. For example, if the paragraph size is defined as "small," when you use "larger" as your font size, the font used is the larger font based on the "small" font size.

Font Size by Length

  • When specifying font size by length, it includes a number and a unit of measurement. Like keywords, it is also divided into two types -- absolute and relative. Units of measurement for absolute font sizes include pt (point), pc (pica), in (inches), mm (millimeter) and cm (centimeter). Points and picas are carried over from print typography, wherein 1 pt is equal to 1/72nd of an inch and 1 pc is equal to 12 pt. Relative font sizes on the other hand, change depending on the screen resolution such as em and px (pixels).

Font Size by Percentage

  • Another way for stating font size is by percentage. Since percentage is relative, it depends on an already defined font size such as a length or keyword measurement. For example, if you set the body of your text to 10px, you can set your heading such as H1 to 150 percent to specify a bigger font for your paragraph headers.

Choosing Font Measurements

  • Although pt and pc are commonly used in print, absolute measurements like these are not recommended for the screen since they are not scalable. This is also true for other absolute length measurements such as in, cm and mm. It is recommended, when defining fonts to be used on the Web, to use relative length measurements such as em and px, or a combination of length measurements and keyword or percentage measurements.

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