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Applying Character Formats

Character formatting is styling that you can apply to words and individual characters rather than to blocks such as paragraphs. This formatting includes changing the font, font size, and font color.

Beginning several versions ago and continuing through the current version of Dreamweaver, the program dispensed with the old method of applying these sorts of character formatting (which was to use the HTML <font> tag) in favor of using CSS styles. This change happened mostly behind the scenes in Code view, so if you have been using Dreamweaver for quite some time, you may not have even noticed the change. Beginning with Dreamweaver CS4, the program enforces the use of CSS for text styling by requiring you to participate in defining CSS rules for changing fonts, font sizes, and font colors.

The reason for the change to CSS is important. Pages styled with CSS are much more flexible than pages that use HTML <font> tags, and they can be maintained more easily. For example, when a site is redesigned, every page that uses <font> tags must be individually changed to match the new design. If you have hundreds or thousands of pages in your site, that’s a lot of work. Sites that use CSS to style text only need to change the style sheet document, and the changes automatically ripple through the whole site. You’ll learn more about using CSS to style text (especially for setting font properties) in Chapter 7. Some other formatting operations are still performed using HTML markup, and those are the ones we’ll explore in this chapter.

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