Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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C12: Using percent for font sizes



This technique relates to:

User Agent and Assistive Technology Support Notes

When font size is specified in any absolute units of measurement, such as points or pixels, the Text Size menu commands in Internet Explorer 7 and earlier do not resize the text.

When High Contrast Mode has been set from the Accessibility Control Panel on Windows, IE6 increases the size of the page text as if a percentage change had been set for the outermost window via CSS. Standard CSS layout behavior causes relative scaling to be multiplied, so the scaling of text within elements will be different in subtle ways. Firefox and IE7 do not change the scaling of the content based on the system settings in a way that affects CSS layout, so this effect does not occur in those browsers.


The objective of this technique is to specify text font size proportionally so that user agents can scale content effectively. If a font-size is specified for the body element, all other elements inherit that value, unless overridden by a more specific selector.


Example 1: Percent font sizes in CSS

This example defines the font size for the strong element so that its text will always be larger than the surrounding text, in whatever context it is used. Assuming that headings and paragraphs use different font sizes, the emphasized words in this example will each be larger than their surrounding text.

Example Code:

strong {font-size: 120%}


<h1>Letting the <strong>user</strong> control text size</h1>
<p>Since only the user can know what size text works for him, 
it is <strong>very</strong> important to let him configure the text size.  


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  1. Check that the value of the CSS property that defines the font size is a percentage.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.