Text You Can't Enlarge

11th February 2004 · Last updated: 5th October 2016


I once suggested on a forum that images could be used to display text. I'm sure you've all seen those glossy sites where each page is made up of images - so the layout stays fixed. Done professionally, with anti-aliasing and unique fonts, it can be quite effective. However, I made my point before learning about accessibility, and why it's important to allow your text to be enlarged. Now take a look at this site and try enlarging the text:


See what I mean? You can't enlarge the text. While that's a sin in itself (especially if you suffer from poor eyesight and need to enlarge the text) what's worse is that the text is all created using images! This makes it impossible to copy, and much slower to load.

Here's a couple of screenshots from the previous design which show another side effect of using images for text, when enlarging the text size in Mozilla. [Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size screenshots.]

Screenshot Screenshot
100% Text Size 150% Text Size

As you can see, the layout breaks up when trying to enlarge the text. Hmmm.

Comments (10)

Comments are locked on this topic. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment.

  1. Sushubh:
    thats the fun in using opera. the zooming is one of THE best feature in opera...

    Posted on 11 February 2004 at 11:49 pm
  2. dusoft:
    it has changed since then?

    I see blue background, not yellow and there is text, not text in images

    Posted on 12 February 2004 at 8:58 am
  3. Chris Hester:
    That's the fastest site redesign ever! Now I see blue boxes. Last night there was a Flash header with a football. The text underneath was definitely made of images. Perhaps the link is random?

    Posted on 12 February 2004 at 9:29 am
  4. william:
    i agree.

    and for the record, what are your suggestions?

    Posted on 12 February 2004 at 9:45 am
  5. Claire:
    ermm.. Chris

    "...You can't enlarge the text. While that's a sin in itself..."

    You know you can't enlarge the text of your site either (In IE of course..) but that is the majority :(


    Posted on 12 February 2004 at 10:45 am
  6. Chris Hester:
    I'm guilty of a "Mozilla-centric" view. I know I can enlarge my text in Mozilla, Firefox and Opera, so I forget about IE! (Because I no longer use it.) But you're quite right.

    You CAN enlarge pixel fonts in IE by setting up a user stylesheet. It's all there in the menus.

    I'm in two minds about this. Why should we cater for the least-capable browser? It's up to the users to realise it can't enlarge certain texts and so they should seek out other browsers that can. The great irony is of course that IE5/Mac has no problems enlarging pixel fonts.

    I can't wait for IE7 to come out which will finally solve this problem - all the contents of the browser window can be enlarged.

    Maybe I'll look into ems again!

    William: "and for the record, what are your suggestions?"

    Well the text I've seen twice on the site was no different from text set in HTML. So all they have to do is lose the images.

    I saw another site recently where bold text was made using graphics! How silly is that?

    Now what to make of the Apple site that uses smooth fonts set in graphics...

    Posted on 12 February 2004 at 1:52 pm
  7. Claire:
    Hi Chris...

    I don't use IE either (but I test in it... can't afford not too!) . Unfortunately the majority of people do use it, and most of these same people don't know how to set up user style sheets.

    "I'm in two minds about this. Why should we cater for the least-capable browser?"

    Well to me the only reason is ACCESSIBILITY we might not like the fact that we have to cater differently to IE's needs but what sort of designer would I be, when I try to make sites accessible to as many people as possible, and automatically alienate the majority of users, by saying to heck with IE?

    I'd rather code in a slightly different (but still valid) way, than waste my time or energy...

    a) educating 90 (ish) % of users how to set up their own user stylesheets
    b) fighting a losing battle with M$

    Some people just want to read the web... not help code it!


    Posted on 12 February 2004 at 2:50 pm
  8. Chris Hester:
    I've just noticed that EBAY uses a large graphic to display two columns of text!! These are on the first page where the headers for 3 columns read 1) Find, 2) Buy and 3) Pay. Well 2 and 3 are part of the graphic! But the text in them is a standard pixel-based font, so there's no need to make it a graphic. The end result is that you can't enlarge, highlight or copy the text. Not only that but font smoothing can't be applied. How stupid.

    Note also the link in there, which must have been done with an image map.

    See it yourself:


    Posted on 8 March 2004 at 8:41 pm
  9. john:
    You can change the text size in IE (even this page) Go to tools,internet options,accessability,then check the "ignore font sizes specified on web pages",then view and text size.Or after the accessabilty bit,hold down the ctrl button and use your mouse wheel.

    Posted on 24 July 2004 at 10:38 pm
  10. Chris Hester:
    Check this for a wrong approach. This site uses 63(!) images, most of which could easily be replicated by text:


    Posted on 6 October 2004 at 9:06 pm