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The Future Of CSS Typography

June 2, 2010 • By

The challenge for any web designer is to create style sheets that are unique, distinctive and can be replicated in a way that will create brand recognition. To that end, the future of CSS typography is an ever evolving and changing field that is constantly being updated, altered, and manipulated to both meets the growing demands of clients and the challenging demands of the market.

CSS Text Level 3 is the latest effort to bring the necessity of form in alignment with the yearning for creativity that web designers require. This system provides designers with finer control and power, bringing into the forefront many of the typographical standards of pre-computer printing. There are multiple features and functions in this dynamic program that make it stand out above the rest. In many ways this CSS is ahead of its time and many browsers are working to catch up to the power of the program. 

While some browsers do not support the new properties and techniques of CSS Text Level 3, more browsers are making the move to this dynamic system. As designers fine the inflexibility of styles sheets and the multiple classes and IDs cumbersome and hard to maintain, the more easily defined shorthand utilized by Level 3 provides a must more appropriate medium for designers. 

The new system uses “short-hand” for much of the commands that normally require the inclusion of multiple levels of infrastructure. An individual can easily create a design that can easily be maintained, changed, or altered to meet the needs of a client with minimal effort or duplication of efforts. 

The main areas of control are found in the capability to more precisely control font properties, white space, line breaks, text wrapping, work wrapping, word and letter spacing, indentation-hanging punctuation, web fonts and decoration, alignment and hyphenation. Overflow of text is easily controlled as well as the unicode range and language making it easy to develop language sensitive topography. 

Web designers wishing to more precisely control fonts and structure will find that using the font shorthand of the Level 3 saves time due to the order of properties. While values not specified in the order of properties are replaced by the parent value of the system, an individual can identify font-style, font-variant, font-weight, font-size, line-height, and font-family. The font property can be used to specify custom system fonts for caption, icon, menu, small-caption, status-bar, and other values that are based on the system in use. Therefore, there is not an issue with a gap in the structure of the page that is being created. 

The font-weight control allows a person to specify the weight of their font between 100 to 900. When no weight is given, the system will default to the parent weight. In Firefox, the font-size-adjustment feature allows the designer to specify the aspect ratio of type. In addition, the text-transformation feature can be specified in short-hand of font-variant such as small caps. 

The White space, line breaks and text wrap specifications allow the designer to specify combinations of properties to enhance and create distinctive designs. Using a series of short-hand commands, the page can be set up to function independently. Line breaks, wrapped text, preservation of formatting, and line breaks are easily achieved using simple codes that are easily updated, changed, or maintained. 

An especially convenient and time-saving feature of Level 3 is the word wrap or break function. The feature is not dependent on the text wrap code being set and when words are too long they will break randomly and optimize to fit the flow of the text box. 

Kerning is another feature that is much easier to set. Work and letter spacing have often been dependent on specific variables of the text, box, or page. With Level 3 there are three types of kerning, optimal, minimum or maximum. Work spacing corresponds to one optimum value or two values, one being the optimum and minimum and the second value being the maximum kerning. When no values are selected, the optimal value is used. Letter spacing utilizes one value which corresponds to optimal, minimum or maximum. This is extremely convenient languages such as Chinese, Thai, Korean, or Japanese. 

The future of CSS typography encourages web designers to step beyond their comfort zone and experiment with an incredibly flexible system that will provide the freedom to try new approaches in design and develop of dynamic web pages. One of the characteristics of great web designers is their constant efforts to grow and become more proficient. They are constantly looking for new and exciting programs to make the product they create more dynamic and vibrant to the market and their customers. To that end the CSS Text Level 3 is the natural progression in the steps one takes to perfect their craft.

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