Font Size

The methods for determining font size are both very familiar and very different.

In a fashion very similar to the font-weight keywords bolder and lighter, the property font-size has relative-size keywords called larger and smaller. Much as we saw with relative font weights, these keywords cause the computed value of font-size to move up and down a scale of absolute values, which we’ll need to understand before we can explore larger and smaller. First, though, we need to explore how fonts are sized in the first place.

In fact, the relation of the font-size property to what you actually see rendered is determined by the font’s designer. This relationship is set as an em square (some call it an em box) within the font itself. This em square, and thus the font size, doesn’t have to refer to any boundaries established by the characters in a font themselves. Instead, it refers to the distance between baselines when the font is set without any extra leading (line-height in CSS). It is quite possible for fonts to have characters that are taller than the default distance between baselines. For that matter, a font might be defined such that all of its characters are smaller than its em square. Some hypothetical examples are shown in Figure ...

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