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Writing font shorthand notation

From: CSS: Core Concepts

Video: Writing font shorthand notation

Some of the syntax options in CSS don't really give you any additional functionality. They are just designed to save you time. Shorthand notations are designed to do just that, save you time when writing what would otherwise, be multiple property declarations. Now essentially, the font shorthand notation allows us to define font-families, font-size, font- style, font-weight, font-variant and line-height, all in one property. It is a real timesaver.

Writing font shorthand notation

Some of the syntax options in CSS don't really give you any additional functionality. They are just designed to save you time. Shorthand notations are designed to do just that, save you time when writing what would otherwise, be multiple property declarations. Now essentially, the font shorthand notation allows us to define font-families, font-size, font- style, font-weight, font-variant and line-height, all in one property. It is a real timesaver.

But as with any shorthand notation, you need to be aware of the syntax to avoid any unintentional styling. So I have the shorthand.htm file open from the 04_09 folder. And I am just going to preview that in the browser so you can kind of see what's going on here. So we have a couple of headings, we have some lists that list all of the properties that we can set with the font shorthand notation. We have a couple of headlines here and we have another list that shows some of the optional keywords that we can set by using font shorthand notation as well.

We are going to experiment with that in just a moment. So I want to go back up into my styles and I want to focus on the body selector. Now currently in the body selector, we are using three separate font properties to define some of our values for text. We are using the font-family, font-size and line-height. And we haven't talked about line-height a lot yet. We are going to examine that property in just a little bit, but line-height basically just controls the spacing of the lines of text in your files, like your paragraph and thing like that.

So what I am going to do is I am going to remove the -family and just use font. So whenever we are doing the font shorthand notation, that's how we define it, just font and then a colon. Now after that, we need to start declaring some explicit values and we typically need to do these explicit values in order. So I am going to type in normal space normal space normal. Now what are those? Well, this would be font-weight, font-style and font-variant.

After that, I'm going to have the size of the text. So in this case we are going to use 100%, so I am going to use 100%. Now notice that I'm not using commas to separate these guys at all. I've used them here in the fonts tag, but nowhere else. Everywhere else I just need spaces between them. Now we have a line-height of 1.5 and the way that we do line-height in the font shorthand notation is pretty interesting. Right after the 100%, right after the font size, whatever that may be, you can do a / and then pass the value in 1.5.

Notice there is no space, between this at all, no white space, it's all sort of one unit there, and then we follow that with the font stack that we want. And you have to do them in that order. So I am going to go ahead and get rid of those two properties that we don't need any more. I am going to save this and preview this in my browser. And absolutely nothing changed. That's because we are passing the exact same values that we passed before, the only difference is, we are doing it with one line or one property now, rather than three or four properties.

Now you might be wondering about these. Do we have to pass in the values; normally it's not, because that's not really saving me a whole lot of time. No you don't. You can use the extremely stripped-down version of the font shorthand notation. Let me show you the absolute minimalist version you could possibly use. I am going to remove all those normals, and then I am going to remove the line-height declaration. Whenever you do for font shorthand notation, you have to pass in atleast two things. That would be the size of the font and the family of the font.

And they need to be done in that order, size first, family second. If I save this and test the page, the only change I am going to notice is the line-height. Everything else stays the same. So I can go back in and add that line-height back in if I want. 1.5, save, test. Okay, Same thing we had before, We just don't have all those normals on the front end. Leaving those off can sometimes cause unintended consequences. Essentially, if you leave off any of those values, what happens is that normal is passed as a default value, 9 out of 10 times; that's not going to cause you a problem.

But every now and then, it will. So I want to take a closer look at how this could maybe cause you some issues. I am going to go right back down into my styles, just a little bit further down into this little section where it's asking me to add some styles. And I want to add a shorthand class, so I am just going to call it shorthand, and inside that I am going to do font 1.2ems space Arial comma Helvetica comma sans-serif, so we'll do our font stack right there.

And that's going to be my shorthand notation. Because we are not declaring font-weight, font-style or font-variant, the value normal is going to be passed for every single one of those. So if I go down to say one of our headings down here, for example, for headings the default font-weight is bold. If I go in and apply that class, and I just go ahead and apply the class of shorthand, save this file and test it, notice what happens to my heading. It is no longer bold.

It's not bold anymore because the shorthand notation is passing normal as the value for font-weight. It's doing that automatically, and if I'm not paying attention, I can have that value be inherited or overwrite values that I wanted in other instances. So you have to be very careful when using this sort of minimalist strip-down version. Now if you do want to pass one of those values, you don't have to pass all three of them. I could come back into this font shorthand notation and just type in bold. I can just pass whichever one I want, so I could say, small caps for font-variant.

I could say italic for font-style, or I can say bold for font-weight. So if I save this and preview this back in my browser, you can see that now our heading is back to being bold again, perfect. Now if you go down into the bottom of your code here into this bottom list, you can see that it talks about keywords that can also be passed in using the font shorthand notation. Now these optional keywords are basically asking the user agent to use whatever font and whatever formatting they use for these particular items on the page.

They are caption, so if there's a specific formatting for caption that a browser or user agent has, an icon, menu, message-box, small-caption and status-bar. Now I have read a few articles here and then where people have said, well, I don't' know why you would ever use those? Frankly they are very useful, because if you have a widget that you're creating for an application or a web page, and you are unsure of what the sort of native styling is on that particular OS or that particular user agent, you can use these optional keywords and you are going to get the same formatting, let say the status-bar would get in the browser or the icon would get in the browser.

So let's go ahead and try those. You will notice that we have a class called keyword. I am going to go right up here and I am going to create that keyword class, and I am just going to use the font shorthand notation, and let's just go through some of these. I am just going to try icon first. So I am going to save that and preview it, and you can see we have got a slightly different formatting that's going on here. It's using a sans serif font, the font-size is a lot smaller. Let's try menu next. Feel free to try all of them. So I will try menu, and we will test that, little bit larger, but pretty much the same font, may be the last one we will try is this status-bar.

So status-bar and all the browsers pretty much have a status-bar, so we will try that. And that's a lot smaller, we are getting the same formatting that you would get in the status-bar of the browser as well. So the optional keywords, you probably won't use them a lot, but in case of building any type of user interface widgets or applications, you might find them really handy to have around. The font shorthand notation can save you a lot of time. But I really don't want you to lose sight of the fact, that it can pass unintended formatting values to elements if you're not careful with it.

There are some shorthand notations, like margins and padding that we will look at a little bit later that I use almost all of the time that I type this properties in. But with the font shorthand notation, I only use it if I'm extremely confident that the rule that I'm passing in is not to overwrite the formatting of other elements on the page or pass default styling that I don't want. Either way, when you use it, make sure that you test it thoroughly to make sure that you're getting the formatting that you expect.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for CSS: Core Concepts
CSS: Core Concepts

81 video lessons · 40178 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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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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