Chapter 5. Fonts

As the authors of the specification clearly recognized, font selection will be a popular feature of CSS. After all, how many pages are littered with dozens, or even hundreds, of <FONT face="..."> tags? In fact, the beginning of the “Font Properties” section of CSS1 begins with the sentence, “Setting font properties will be among the most common uses of style sheets.”

The truth is that, for now, there isn’t a way to ensure consistent font use on the Web, because there isn’t a uniform way of describing fonts and variants of fonts. For example, the fonts Times, Times New Roman, and TimesNR may be similar or the same, but how would a user agent know that? An author might specify TimesNR in a document, but what happens when a user without that particular font installed views the document? Even if Times New Roman is installed, the user agent cannot know that the two are effectively interchangeable. And if you’re hoping to force a certain font on a reader, forget it. Although CSS2 has facilities for downloadable fonts, these are not well implemented, and a reader could always refuse to download fonts for performance reasons. CSS does not provide ultimate control over fonts, any more than does a word processor: when a Microsoft Office document you have created is loaded on someone else’s machine, its display will depend on that person’s installed fonts. If they don’t have the same fonts you do, then the document will look different. The same is true of documents designed ...

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