Using Style Sheets on Your Website - Web Style Guide

You are strongly encouraged to discontinue use of the <font> tag to change font colors or size or type face. Use style sheets instead.

The <font> tag is deprecated tag and will be removed from future versions of XHTML and from future browsers that meet web standards. This means that web standards-based browsers released in the future will probably not understand the <font> tag so your font colors, sizes and styles will not be viewable in those browsers.

In addition, using a single external style sheet to set colors, sizes and other stylistic elements allow you to control the look and feel of your entire website by making modifications to one file, instead of modifying each and every web page separately.

  • Separate content (the information you're conveying to your audience) from style (the appearance and position of that information) by using Style Sheets - also known as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) - to set colors, font types, font sizes, alignment and more. More about Style Sheets.

  • At this time, until more users in the general public adopt newer, web standards-based browsers, the old technique of using HTML tables to layout page designs may continue to be used as long as accessibility features are included with your markup. More about HTML tables available in the XHTML and HTML section of the Web Center. More about Accessibility.

  • Link each web page in your website to an external style sheet. This will enable you to update the appearance (colors, font sizes, font styles, alignment and more) of all web pages linked to the style sheet by modifying only one file (instead of modifying <font> tags throughout each web page in the site).

  • Style sheets must follow these guidelines:

    • Validate style sheet code using the W3C CSS Validator at
    • Use relative font sizes (% or ems - % is preferred) that enable the site visitor to change the font size if they desired. Avoid px or pt font sizes for content since these cannot be modified on some browsers. However, px may be used for small bits of "unimportant" content such as a Copyright statement at the bottom of a page (10px Verdana is the smallest recommended fixed font size).
    • Fonts in most versions of Netscape are smaller than in Internet Explorer. Fonts on many Macs are smaller than on a PC, depending on operating system version and browser. Therefore, fonts that look smallish on Internet Explorer on a PC are probably too small in Netscape on a Mac.
    • The smallest recommended font size is 80% or 0.8em Verdana with Arial as the secondary font choice, and sans-serif as the third font choice in your definition.

More information about Style Sheets and Validation is available in the Web Center.