Formatting Web Fanfic

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Title: Formatting Web Fanfic
Creator: Sarah Q
Date(s): August 2, 2001
Medium: online
External Links: Formatting Web Fanfic/WebCite
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Formatting Web Fanfic is an essay by Sarah Q.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.


This is a rant about reading fanfic on a computer monitor.

I read. A lot. Perhaps more than I do anything else, including sleep. Much of what I read is fanfic, posted to mailing lists and to archives, or displayed on personal pages on the web. I read all of it on my old-fashioned cathode ray tube computer monitor.

Much of it is illegible.

Not poorly written. Illegible. This extends even to some very, very well-written fic, some of which I find more enjoyable to read than professionally published works.

But when I pick up a professional book, regardless of the quality of the writing, at least I get black text on an white paper. Maybe on ivory paper, if I went to the library and borrowed the hardback. Or perhaps gray, if the printer has been using recycled pulp. (Which, while environmentally noble, just doesn't feel quite as nice under the fingers. Ever notice that?)

Never do I see pink text on fuchsia paper....

Just because you can do funky things with HTML doesn't mean you should.
Webpages are not like the pages in a book. A reader can change a web browser's default font; a reader can even set their browser to override page-specified fonts. Style sheets define the presentation more strictly. But a designer does not retain complete control over the appearance of the webpage. Perhaps, though, your reader is giving you the benefit of the doubt. Sock it to me, she says; go ahead and dictate my font.