CSS Font Variant

The Great CSS Font Variant Heist: Mastering Typography in Style

CSS font variants are like the master keys in a heist movie, unlocking a vault of typographic treasures. Imagine a team of skilled thieves, each representing a different aspect of the font-variant property.

Their mission?

To infiltrate the bank of Typography and snatch every bit of style and elegance they can.

Let’s dive into this heist and uncover the secrets of CSS font variants.

The Crew: Font Variant Options and Values

1. The Leader: font-variant-caps

This is the mastermind of the operation. With values like small-caps, all-small-caps, petite-caps, and all-petite-caps, it transforms lowercase letters into smaller capitals, perfect for adding flair to headings and titles.

2. The Muscle: font-variant-numeric

This option is all about the numbers. It includes values like lining-nums, oldstyle-nums, proportional-nums, and tabular-nums, each handling numbers in unique, stylish ways.

3. The Specialist: font-variant-alternates

A master of disguise, it uses values like historical-forms and stylistic(<number>) to swap out standard characters for alternate designs, adding a unique twist to your text.

4. The Tech Expert: font-variant-ligatures

Handling the connections with values like common-ligatures, no-common-ligatures, and discretionary-ligatures, it manages how letters link together in elegant ways.

5. The Scout: font-variant-east-asian

Focusing on East Asian typography, it includes values like jis78, jis83, simplified, and traditional, catering to specific regional typographic conventions.

The Plan: Code Samples

To pull off this heist, we need the right tools. Here’s a sample of how to apply these options:

.mysterious-title {
  font-variant-caps: small-caps;

.number-savvy {
  font-variant-numeric: oldstyle-nums;

.alternative-agent {
  font-variant-alternates: stylistic(1);

.ligature-locksmith {
  font-variant-ligatures: common-ligatures;

.east-asian-expert {
  font-variant-east-asian: simplified;

And the HTML:

<div class="mysterious-title">Secret Mission</div>
<div class="number-savvy">1234567890</div>
<div class="alternative-agent">A Stylish Twist</div>
<div class="ligature-locksmith">Thief</div>
<div class="east-asian-expert">東京</div>
Secret Mission
A Stylish Twist

The Getaway: Use Case, Pros and Cons



  • Complexity: Just like planning a heist, using these properties can get complicated, especially for beginners.
  • Browser Support: Not all browsers support every font-variant value, so you might need fallbacks.

The Escape Vehicle: Browser Support

While our heist team is versatile, they still need the right getaway vehicle – browser support.

Most modern browsers support these properties, but it’s always good to check the latest compatibility, especially for less common values like font-variant-alternates.

The Aftermath: Conclusion

Like any great heist movie, the thrill is in the details. CSS font variants offer a range of possibilities to enhance the typography of your website, making it stand out with style and elegance.

While there are challenges, like browser compatibility and learning curve, the payoff in terms of design impact is well worth it.

So, assemble your crew, plan your strategy, and get ready to pull off the greatest typography heist in web design history!

How Do I Use Small Caps in CSS?

To use small caps in CSS, you employ the font-variant-caps property with the value small-caps. This transforms your text into smaller uppercase letters, providing a sophisticated look especially useful for headings or emphasis. You can apply it by writing font-variant-caps: small-caps; in your CSS rule. It’s important to note that not all fonts support small caps, so ensure your chosen font does. This feature is widely supported across modern browsers, making it a reliable choice for enhancing typography.

Can CSS Control the Style of Numbers in Text?

Yes, CSS can control the style of numbers in text using the font-variant-numeric property. This property allows for different numerical styles like old-style numbers (oldstyle-nums) or lining numbers (lining-nums). You can also specify whether numbers are proportional (proportional-nums) or tabular (tabular-nums) in width. This is particularly useful for aligning numbers in tables or maintaining consistent text flow. However, the availability of these styles depends on the font you’re using, so it’s essential to choose a font that supports these numeric features.

What Are CSS Font Variant Ligatures?

CSS font variant ligatures, controlled by the font-variant-ligatures property, manage how characters are linked together in a typeface. Common ligatures (common-ligatures) combine frequently paired characters like ‘fi’ into a single glyph, enhancing the text’s flow and aesthetics. Discretionary ligatures (discretionary-ligatures) are more decorative and can be used for special typographic effects. No ligatures (no-common-ligatures) disable this feature, providing standard character spacing. While ligatures add a subtle elegance to your text, remember that their effectiveness and availability depend on the font you’re using.

How to Apply Alternate Glyphs in CSS?

To apply alternate glyphs in CSS, use the font-variant-alternates property. This property lets you switch standard characters for stylistically different glyphs, such as historical-forms or using stylistic(<number>) for specific alternate sets. This is ideal for creating unique and visually interesting text on your website. However, it’s important to check if your chosen font supports alternate glyphs, as not all do. Additionally, be mindful of readability and aesthetic balance when using alternate glyphs, as they can sometimes make text harder to read if overused.

What is the CSS Font Variant for East Asian Typography?

The CSS font variant for East Asian typography is controlled by the font-variant-east-asian property. This property caters to specific typographic conventions in East Asian scripts, offering values like jis78, jis83, simplified, and traditional. It allows for precise control over the presentation of East Asian characters, catering to linguistic and cultural nuances. While this is a powerful tool for websites with East Asian content, its relevance is limited if your audience or content does not involve these languages. Also, ensure your chosen font supports these East Asian-specific features for proper display.

How to Implement Old-Style Numerals in CSS?

To implement old-style numerals in CSS, use the font-variant-numeric property with the value oldstyle-nums. This style gives numbers a classic, more blended look with the text, as they have varying heights, similar to lowercase letters. This feature is particularly useful in running text where you want the numbers to integrate seamlessly with the overall typography. However, remember that the font you choose must support old-style figures for this feature to work. Most modern browsers support this property, but always test across different browsers for consistency.

Can CSS Create Tabular Numbers for Better Alignment?

Yes, CSS can create tabular numbers, which are especially useful for aligning numbers in tables and lists. By setting the font-variant-numeric property to tabular-nums, each numeral is given the same width, allowing for neat vertical alignment. This feature is invaluable in financial or statistical data presentations where number alignment is crucial. However, as with other font variant features, your chosen font must support tabular numbers. Also, keep in mind that tabular numbers might not blend as seamlessly into paragraph text due to their uniform width.

What is the Role of Small-Caps in Web Typography?

Small-caps, implemented in CSS through font-variant-caps: small-caps, play a significant role in web typography. They are used to create a visual hierarchy or emphasis without the overpowering presence of full-sized capital letters. Small-caps are perfect for acronyms, headings, or as stylistic alternatives in text to draw attention subtly. However, their effectiveness largely depends on the font’s design quality, as not all small-caps are created equal. It’s also worth noting that while most browsers support small-caps, the rendering may vary slightly across different platforms.

How to Enable or Disable Ligatures in CSS?

To enable or disable ligatures in CSS, you use the font-variant-ligatures property. By setting it to common-ligatures, you enable standard ligatures, typically used to improve text readability and aesthetics. Conversely, setting it to no-common-ligatures turns off these ligatures, which can be useful for certain stylistic or legibility reasons. While ligatures can enhance the look of your text, they may not always be appropriate, especially in contexts where clarity and character distinction are paramount. Also, keep in mind that not all fonts come with ligature options.

Are CSS Font Variants Supported in All Browsers?

CSS font variants are widely supported in modern browsers, but there are variations in the level of support for different font-variant properties. Most contemporary browsers support basic features like font-variant-caps and font-variant-numeric. However, more advanced or specialized features like font-variant-alternates and font-variant-east-asian might have limited support. It’s always best to test your typography across different browsers and include fallbacks for unsupported features. Additionally, the specific fonts you use can also impact how these properties are rendered, so font choice is a crucial consideration.


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