By setting the width in pixels a designer can hope to control as closely as possible what the viewer will see. For example, if you want the text to be four inches wide you might set your table cell width for 288 pixels. But even then, what if the person is using a monitor that displays 95 pixels per inch? What if the person has set browser preferences so that text is larger or smaller than the text on your own display? Try changing the settings on your own browser to see what a difference it makes.
If you set the table width and cell width in pixels those values will not resize if your viewer has a larger or smaller monitor.
One recommendation is that if you do use fixed width columns, that you have at least one column that is flexible and can adapt to the resizing needs. The Yale C/AIM Style Guide uses fixed column widths. Can you find the cell without width defined?
The W3C accessibility guidelines suggest using relative rather than fixed values for setting width. The advantage to using percentages for defining table and cell width is that the various parts of the page will resize to display in the same relationship, no matter what size the monitor. This may not be satisfactory in all cases. For example, on my computer a cell width like this is about the size of a printed page, but on a large monitor or web tv, the text may stretch so wide as to be uncomfortable reading.
When you do a web page, size your screen larger and smaller to see what happens to the display. "Tips and Troubles" describes some of the complicated solutions for this problem.
Continue to "Speed Your Display" > >
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