Why Web Pages Look Different on Different Screens

Once you have surfed the Internet or your corporate Intranet a little, you may wonder why some pages look really good and some look just awful. There are three reasons: HTML, choice of browser software, and your computer's basic display settings.

The source for all Web pages, Internet or Intranet, is HyperText Markup Language (HTML)--basically ASCII text with some embedded codes that represent instructions for displaying text and graphics or linking. HTML uses a limited hierarchical set of heading tags for text, and was not originally intended to display pages in the way designers now use it. As a result of limitations in HTML itself, designers must often "cheat" to get the displays to look the way they want them, and some browsers can't display the "cheats" properly.

More importantly to you, *every* browser (Netscape, Spry Mosaic, Internet Explorer, Netcruiser, AOL, etc.) interprets the HTML code in its own way. An heading code may look very big and bold on an older AOL browser, and only moderately large in Internet Explorer. There is no standardization among browsers as to how to display HTML code, which means the same page will look different depending on what browser you use. And older browsers do not recognize some widely used HTML codes, such as tables or font colors. (TIP: Upgrade your browser every 3 months to the most current version. It's usually free.)

The other thing that controls the display is your own computer's settings. If you have your basic screen font set large, all your Web pages will also display larger. This means you will have different line breaks and page lengths on your screen than someone with a smaller font setting.

By, Kaye Vivian, ABC, http://www.cloud9.net/~kvivian

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