The CSS Revolution

 

By Willie Voerding

 

Typography is the single most vital element in the design of any document because it is the visual image of your text that enhances the document’s effectiveness and subtly reinforces your message.  When creating a document it should be your goal to obtain the highest legibility and readability possible by utilizing the design of the typography.  Choosing a proper typeface or font is one way to achieve this goal.  With the latest boom of computer technology there has been a huge increase in the number of ways to display text and produce legibility and readability to your document.

 

Typefaces have evolved in many ways to improve the appearance of the project. Each typeface has its own unique tone that should produce a consistent fit between the visual and verbal flow of your content (Lynch and Horton).  When typewriters were the prominent way of creating paper documents, the user was limited to the “font” of that particular typewriter.  In the present time, computers have over 170 fonts to choose from with every individual font having its own kind of styles. They can all be resized, have different display effects, and the spacing between the characters can be changed.  These styles can be used to create specific typefaces that can be used consistently throughout a document.

 

When designing a web page with the early versions of HTML, the author had no control over typefaces.  The fonts were set by the web browser being used.  Now in the latter versions of HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) were created to simplify the process of using different styles throughout your design.  Cascading Style Sheets have various levels and profiles.  Level 1 contains properties for fonts, margins, and color that almost all profiles need (Bos).  CSS Level 2 contains all of Level 1 along with absolutely positioned elements, automatic numbering, and page breaks (Bos).  Level 3 contains all of Level 2 and brings new selectors, fancy borders and backgrounds, vertical text, and user interaction (Bos).  Levels 1, 2, or 3 of CSS are implemented by desktop browsers whereas other programs implement the appropriate profile for their platform like cell phones, PDAs, televisions, and printers (Bos).

 

Using a Cascading Style Sheet creates the following advantages: 

 

·        CSS uses standard desktop-publishing terminology

·        CSS allows readers and authors to define style sheets

·        CSS are supported by most web browsers

·       to make changes to,  you only need to edit the style sheet  and not the whole project

      (Jones and   Lane 272). 

 

It is also a great way to maintain simplicity, symmetry, consistency, readability, and usability for your project. As a technical writer, paying attention to typefaces increases the legibility of the document.  This ensures that the reader can articulate the message that you are trying to convey in the shortest amount of time.  With the increase in the number of fonts available and the creation of Cascading Style Sheets this goal has become more attainable.

 


 

Sources

 

Bos, B.  (2004).  Cascading Style Sheets Homepage.   Retrieved October 29, 2004 from http://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/

 

Jones, D., & Lane, K. (2002). Technical Communication.  New York:  Pearson Education Inc.

 

Lynch & Horton.  (2004).  Web Style Guide.  Retrieved on October 29, 2004 from http://www.webstyleguide.com/type/face.html