Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CSS Font Size Conversion Chart

  • “Ems” (em): The “em” is a scalable unit that is used in web document media. An em is equal to the current font-size, for instance, if the font-size of the document is 12pt, 1em is equal to 12pt. Ems are scalable in nature, so 2em would equal 24pt, .5em would equal 6pt, etc. Ems are becoming increasingly popular in web documents due to scalability and their mobile-device-friendly nature.

  • Pixels (px): Pixels are fixed-size units that are used in screen media (i.e. to be read on the computer screen). One pixel is equal to one dot on the computer screen (the smallest division of your screen’s resolution). Many web designers use pixel units in web documents in order to produce a pixel-perfect representation of their site as it is rendered in the browser. One problem with the pixel unit is that it does not scale upward for visually-impaired readers or downward to fit mobile devices.

  • Points (pt): Points are traditionally used in print media (anything that is to be printed on paper, etc.). One point is equal to 1/72 of an inch. Points are much like pixels, in that they are fixed-size units and cannot scale in size.

  • Percent (%): The percent unit is much like the “em” unit, save for a few fundamental differences. First and foremost, the current font-size is equal to 100% (i.e. 12pt = 100%). While using the percent unit, your text remains fully scalable for mobile devices and for accessibility.
Here is a chart that will help you find the conversion of pt,px,ems and %. The chart is good for an approximation, font size can change based on font, and operating system.

Points
Pixels
Ems
Percent
6pt
8px
0.5em
50%
7pt
9px
0.55em
55%
7.5pt
10px
0.625em
62.5%
8pt
11px
0.7em
70%
9pt
12px
0.75em
75%
10pt
13px
0.8em
80%
10.5pt
14px
0.875em
87.5%
11pt
15px
0.95em
95%
12pt
16px
1em
100%
13pt
17px
1.05em
105%
13.5pt
18px
1.125em
112.5%
14pt
19px
1.2em
120%
14.5pt
20px
1.25em
125%
15pt
21px
1.3em
130%
16pt
22px
1.4em
140%
17pt
23px
1.45em
145%
18pt
24px
1.5em
150%
20pt
26px
1.6em
160%
22pt
29px
1.8em
180%
24pt
32px
2em
200%
26pt
35px
2.2em
220%
27pt
36px
2.25em
225%
28pt
37px
2.3em
230%
29pt
38px
2.35em
235%
30pt
40px
2.45em
245%
32pt
42px
2.55em
255%
34pt
45px
2.75em
275%
36pt
48px
3em
300%

For those of you who are still using pixels, it’s about time you made the switch to ems or points. Why should you use em for font sizing?

The simple answer is scalability. If you have a have a site that you want accessible to multiple audiences then use em’s. By multiple audiences, I mean those using mobile devices, like a Blackberry or iPhone. Also, this means that those users of the later generation….alright, older people, with bad vision…can see your website in the exact proportions you intend. What I mean by this is, if you hold CTRL and use your mouse wheel, or go to “view > text size” in Internet Explorer, your font size will be fully controlled by the user and not by you, ruining your design! Using ems will make all your sizes become proportional to the original settings! This will help retain your font-sizes despite what a browse or user decides to do to it!

Here is a little trick that will help you so you don’t have to remember the chart above.

body { font-size: 62.5% }

This will make 1.0 em the same as 10px.  So if you wanted 12 px. would be 1.2em, nice and easy.  Hopefully this will help you out.

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Your browser warning is displaying for IE8. It should only show for IE6 and IE7. IE8 has no problem with this type of code on your site. Just thought you would like to know :). you don't need it for newer browsers.

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