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Using text variants

From: CSS: Core Concepts

Video: Using text variants

If you're a graphic designer you're probably used to having an amazing amount of control over typography. Especially if you take advantage of the capabilities of most open type fonts. Sadly, the full-range of features like ligatures, ordinals, and other alternate characters aren't available to us through CSS. Now the W3C is putting the finishing touches on open type support and browsers are starting to implement it, so it shouldn't be very long before we enjoy more control over our typography, and in the meantime, there are some properties that extend what we can do in terms of using alternate characters.

Using text variants

If you're a graphic designer you're probably used to having an amazing amount of control over typography. Especially if you take advantage of the capabilities of most open type fonts. Sadly, the full-range of features like ligatures, ordinals, and other alternate characters aren't available to us through CSS. Now the W3C is putting the finishing touches on open type support and browsers are starting to implement it, so it shouldn't be very long before we enjoy more control over our typography, and in the meantime, there are some properties that extend what we can do in terms of using alternate characters.

One of those, the font-variant property, allows us to specify the use of small-cap, so let's go ahead and experiment with that. We can open up the variant.htm file. This is found in the 04_06 directory. And if I scroll down I can see that I have again some very simple page structure here. The headline that says font-variant, and inside of that I have a paragraph that sort of describes how this works. So I'm going to go back up to my h1 rule and underneath the font-size, I'm just going to type in font-variant: And there are a couple of values that I can use for this, really just two keywords that you can use.

Normal, which is going to overwrite any small-caps usage that you might have on another rule that's being applied to this one as well, or you can use small-caps and that's what I'm going to do here. So I'm going to do small-caps; save this, and I want to preview this in one of my browsers, and when I do that there are my small-caps. Now it doesn't look great and a lot of this depends upon the font that you're going to use. For example, if I go back in and change my font-family here, just really quickly I'm going to just change it to Georgia, save this and test it again, you can see that I get quite a different look and feel from that.

I think it is the term but there's really not a lot of variation to the font-variant property. Now it can be a very handy technique to have around in certain situations, but like any formatting option that uses alternate characters, you want to be sure to test it in as many browsers as you can, to make sure that the font that you're using and the size of the text is giving you the quality that you need. In terms of font-variant, if the font itself doesn't include a small-caps variant, the small-caps property may not often look as good as you'd like it to.

Since in those instances the browser goes ahead and just scales the font down, so sometimes there's some variations and boldness of the letters that you want to account for as well. So if you're going to use font-variant, my advice to you is just use it with a little bit of caution, experiment with it, and make sure that the formatting looks the way that you want it to, before you commit to it.

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This video is part of

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CSS: Core Concepts

81 video lessons · 40892 viewers

James Williamson
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  1. 4m 57s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 2s
  2. 1h 7m
    1. Exploring default styling
      4m 56s
    2. CSS authoring tools
      2m 29s
    3. CSS syntax
      4m 45s
    4. Writing a selector
      4m 10s
    5. Setting properties
      8m 40s
    6. Common units of measurement
      7m 47s
    7. Inline styles
      5m 1s
    8. Embedded styles
      5m 19s
    9. Using external style sheets
      10m 34s
    10. Checking for browser support
      8m 48s
    11. Dealing with browser inconsistencies
      5m 30s
  3. 2h 15m
    1. Structuring HTML correctly
      2m 51s
    2. Element selectors
      4m 52s
    3. Class selectors
      6m 4s
    4. ID selectors
      3m 27s
    5. Using classes and IDs
      10m 7s
    6. Element-specific selectors
      4m 35s
    7. The universal selector
      5m 42s
    8. Grouping selectors
      4m 49s
    9. Descendent selectors
      7m 32s
    10. Child selectors
      5m 7s
    11. Adjacent selectors
      5m 30s
    12. Attribute selectors
      12m 43s
    13. Pseudo-class selectors
      3m 54s
    14. Dynamic pseudo-class selectors
      8m 29s
    15. Structural pseudo-class selectors
      6m 45s
    16. Nth-child selectors
      13m 10s
    17. Pseudo-element selectors
      12m 40s
    18. Targeting page content: Lab
      8m 56s
    19. Targeting page content: Solution
      7m 59s
  4. 42m 39s
    1. What happens when styles conflict?
      4m 0s
    2. Understanding the cascade
      5m 47s
    3. Using inheritance
      6m 11s
    4. Selector specificity
      6m 55s
    5. The !important declaration
      4m 5s
    6. Reducing conflicts through planning
      3m 33s
    7. Resolving conflicts: Lab
      6m 45s
    8. Resolving conflicts: Solution
      5m 23s
  5. 1h 47m
    1. Setting a font family
      7m 10s
    2. Using @font-face
      9m 18s
    3. Setting font size
      7m 35s
    4. Font style and font weight
      6m 52s
    5. Transforming text
      3m 58s
    6. Using text variants
      2m 49s
    7. Text decoration options
      4m 26s
    8. Setting text color
      3m 2s
    9. Writing font shorthand notation
      8m 49s
    10. Controlling text alignment
      6m 33s
    11. Letter and word spacing
      9m 11s
    12. Indenting text
      4m 30s
    13. Adjusting paragraph line height
      10m 30s
    14. Controlling the space between elements
      6m 41s
    15. Basic text formatting: Lab
      8m 45s
    16. Basic text formatting: Solution
      7m 14s
  6. 2h 1m
    1. Understanding the box model
      16m 53s
    2. Controlling element spacing
      14m 29s
    3. Controlling interior spacing
      10m 49s
    4. Margin and padding shorthand notation
      6m 27s
    5. Adding borders
      8m 57s
    6. Defining element size
      10m 7s
    7. Creating rounded corners
      6m 58s
    8. Background properties
      2m 51s
    9. Using background images
      5m 10s
    10. Controlling image positioning
      10m 25s
    11. Using multiple backgrounds
      7m 5s
    12. Background shorthand notation
      5m 25s
    13. Styling container elements: Lab
      7m 55s
    14. Styling container elements: Solution
      8m 17s
  7. 47m 51s
    1. Color keyword definitions
      5m 4s
    2. Understanding hexadecimal notation
      6m 5s
    3. Using RGB values
      4m 58s
    4. Using HSL values
      5m 17s
    5. Working with opacity
      2m 23s
    6. Using RGBa and HSLa
      3m 8s
    7. Styling drop shadows
      5m 38s
    8. CSS gradients
      6m 32s
    9. Working with color: Lab
      4m 26s
    10. Working with color: Solution
      4m 20s
  8. 1m 58s
    1. Additional resources
      1m 58s

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