Re: FW: Font-family specification

Scott E. Preece (
Fri, 2 Feb 1996 08:35:35 -0600

From: Hakon Lie <>
| Scott E. Preece writes:
| > this is correct, I agree with Chris that expecting to be able to
| > distinguish a font-family from a font-weight from a font-style by value
| > is unacceptable.
| Why? Do we have any fonts called "bold", "demi-bold" or "2.3"? What is
| the chance of someone naming a new font that will conflict? If that
| happens one will have to use the 'font-family' property instead of
| 'font', but that is a minor (and highly unlikely) inconveniece.

There's no reason someone couldn't have a font named "bold" or anything else. A lot of X users have simple names (like "sans") that are linked to whatever font is the local preference, to allow generic documents to specify a "name" that gets localized to a specific font. Looking at our local catalog, we don't have a "bold" but we do have a "b" (I think for use by a troff descendant).

I don't think it's especially unlikely.

|   The 'font' property is a shorthand notation intended to make life
|   easier if you write style sheets by hand. The syntax is an old
|   typographic convention. Requireing extra punctuatation in the value
|   defeats the purpose of the property.

With respect, I don't think there is any "old typographic convention" that dictates that exact syntax given in the spec. Certainly the first part ("10/12 Times New Roman") is common, but a type spec would never include multiple typefaces, and the "style" and "weight" components conflate things that would might be conveyed by text markings (e.g., underlining with a wavy line for bold, a single line for italics, two lines for small caps, ...), might be a typeface modifier, or might, sometimes, use a separate face altogether.

I don't think using a comma instead of a space between components would confuse or inconvenience, and would make the parsing much simpler and unambiguous. I think it's the cost of allowing multiple font-families in the spcification.

|   Another solution is to limit the number of font names to 1 in the
|   'font' property:
|    a)  font: 12pt/14pt sans-serif bold;  /* legal */
|    b)  font: 12pt/14pt helvetica sans-serif bold;  /* illegal? */
|   I would prefer also allowing b).

I don't mind the restriction to one font in the shorthand form, but if you want to allow (b), you need to do one of these:

use punctuation to separate the components: b1) font: 12pt/14pt,helvetica sans-serif,bold;

or bracket the typefaces: b2) font: 12pt/14pt (helvetica sans-serif) bold;

or require special puctuation between the typefaces: b3) font: 12pt/14pt helvetica or sans-serif bold; b4) font: 12pt/14pt helvetica | sans-serif bold;


scott preece
motorola/mcg urbana design center	1101 e. university, urbana, il   61801
phone:	217-384-8589			  fax:	217-384-8550
internet mail: