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Jennifer Kyrnin

Poll: Do you still use the FONT element?

By February 7, 2013

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I posted a question a couple weeks ago, asking if people still use the CENTER element to center things on web pages. I honestly was expecting that most people would say no, with a few chiming in to say they use it when they're doing something quick and dirty. In fact, I only recently started adding style="margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; width: width;" to elements I wanted centered in a quick and dirty fashion, because writing <center>…</center> was just faster. These days I tend to add a class .center to my CSS style sheets by default, just so that I can center things quickly if I need to.

But the FONT element I stopped using many many years ago, because it was so well supported by CSS right out of the box. And there was so much more I could control about my type with the CSS type properties than I could control with the FONT element. Do you still use the FONT element? Why or why not?

February 12, 2013 at 9:32 am
(1) Alan Ralph says:

I stopped using the FONT tag as soon as I learnt about CSS, but I do occasionally see the FONT tag show up in web content from elsewhere – usually when I copy and paste descriptive text from a web page to a blog post. This is particularly true with Tumblr, which goes to great lengths to retain the type styling from the source page – luckily, it is usually fairly trivial to go in and remove the excess tags (there are usually a few SPANs in there as well) in HTML view, then add back simple formatting (STRONG, EM, BLOCKQUOTE) as required.

February 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm
(2) Jennifer Kyrnin says:

@Alan: Heh, I don’t know if you should be counting it against yourself if other people use the tag in quotes you use from them… :-)

February 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm
(3) Caryn says:

tags are what my mass-email program needs to design html emails properly. Lots of old code in those because some browsers won’t pull css for emails.

February 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm
(4) Jennifer Kyrnin says:

@Caryn: True, but I don’t really count emails when I am talking about this stuff. :-) I know I should, but I don’t. :-D

Thanks for the reminder.

February 13, 2013 at 11:42 am
(5) Stinger51 says:

As with the center tag, when the boss is shouting at you to “Ship it!” you don’t always have time to “fix” things with CSS. Sure, doing it with CSS is the “right” way. But then you have to include the CSS file everywhere and check that all the major browsers support what you think you are going to see. More time consumed. Ship it! And fix it later.

Or, as modern mgmt. would say, “There’s never time to do it right. But there’s ALWAYS time to do it over.”

Speaking of fonts, can we do something about this tiny 2pt. font for this text area? I have to put a magnifier over my reading glasses just to see what I’m typing here! And no, I don’t want to use the scroll button on my mouse because that messes up the whole page.

February 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm
(6) Jennifer Kyrnin says:

@Stringer51: Sure, time is always a factor.

But ultimately, if you ignore these types of old, deprecated code claiming you don’t have time to fix them, you never will make the time to fix them. I’ve found that there’s never enough time to do it “perfectly” just good enough. But I disagree that there’s always time to do it over. In my experience, the new project always takes precedence over fixing the old stuff.

When I find things like this on websites I’m working on here’s what I do:

1. if there is no style sheet for the site, I create one and add it to the page I’m working on. I don’t worry about the rest of the site, just the current page.
2. then, while I’m working on that page, I remove the deprecated, out-dated, and bad HTML that’s in there and add the CSS to the style sheet.
3. then, when I start working on the next page I know there’s already a style sheet in place, so I add it to the new page, and continue

Perhaps because I’ve been using CSS long enough, but if all I’m doing is replacing FONT elements with the corresponding CSS, I don’t do a huge amount of browser testing. The CSS font styles have been in use for over 10 years, and they really do just work in modern browsers. I mostly test to make sure that I didn’t make a typo or other silly error, not to make sure that these extremely basic styles will “work.”

As for the font sizes on the About.com pages, well, I don’t control them. I’ll pass on your comment to the designers, but they respond better when they get actual feedback from customers (rather than the writers like me). You can provide feedback in the Customer Care form: http://www.about.com/gi/pages/pform.htm


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