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The Heartbreak of Ems

Accessibility advocates and the creators of CSS have long agreed that ems are the way to go. Sadly, they are often the way to go to hell. Listen to all the lectures, read all the books and articles, and you will come away feeling dirty and ashamed if you use anything other than ems to specify your type sizes. But the beautiful theory of ems breaks down in coarse practice—and not only in browsers that fail to support the common default font size.

On a minor note, there is the problem of old browsers. Netscape 4 ignores em and ex units that are applied to text, although it bizarrely respects these units when they are used for line height. IE3 treats em units as pixels. Thus, 2em is mistranslated as 2 pixels tall. Almost no one uses IE3 any more, but still.


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