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The font-variant-alternates CSS property controls the usage of alternate glyphs. These alternate glyphs may be referenced by alternative names defined in @font-feature-values.

font-variant-alternates: normal;
font-variant-alternates: historical-forms;
font-variant-alternates: stylistic(user-defined-ident);
font-variant-alternates: styleset(user-defined-ident);
font-variant-alternates: character-variant(user-defined-ident);
font-variant-alternates: swash(user-defined-ident);
font-variant-alternates: ornaments(user-defined-ident);
font-variant-alternates: annotation(user-defined-ident);
font-variant-alternates: swash(ident1) annotation(ident2);

/* Global values */
font-variant-alternates: initial;
font-variant-alternates: inherit;
font-variant-alternates: unset;

The @font-feature-values at-rule can define names for alternative glyph functions (stylistic, styleset, character-variant, swash, ornament or annotation), associating the name with OpenType parameters. This property allows those human-readable names (defined in @font-feature-values) in the stylesheet.

Initial valuenormal
Applies toall elements. It also applies to ::first-letter and ::first-line.
Inheritedyes
Mediavisual
Computed valueas specified
Animation typediscrete
Canonical orderorder of appearance in the formal grammar of the values

Syntax

This property may take one of two forms:

  • either the keyword normal
  • or one or more of the other keywords and functions listed below, space-separated, in any order.

Values

normal
This keyword deactivates alternate glyphs.
historical-forms
This keyword enables historical forms — glyphs that were common in the past but not today. It corresponds to the OpentType value hist.
stylistic()
This function enables stylistic alternates for individual characters. The parameter is a font-specific name mapped to a number. It corresponds to the OpenType value salt, like salt 2.
styleset()
This function enables stylistic alternatives for sets of characters. The parameter is a font-specific name mapped to a number. It corresponds to the OpenType value ssXY, like ss02.
character-variant()
This function enables set of stylistic alternatives for characters. It is similar to styleset(), but doesn't create coherent glyphs for a set of characters; individual characters will have independent and not necessarily coherent styles. The parameter is a font-specific name mapped to a number. It corresponds to the OpenType value cvXY, like cv02.
swash()
This function enables swash glyphs. The parameter is a font-specific name mapped to a number. It corresponds to the OpenType values swsh and cswh, like swsh 2 and cswh 2.
ornaments()
This function enables ornaments, like fleurons and other dingbat glyphs. The parameter is a font-specific names mapped to a number. It corresponds to the OpenType value ornm like ornm 2.
Note: in order to preserve text semantics, font designer should include ornaments that don't match Unicode dingbat characters as ornamental variants of the bullet character (U+2022). Well-formed fonts do that, but some existing fonts don't.
annotation()
This function enables annotations, like circled digits or inverted characters. The parameter is a font-specific name mapped to a number. It corresponds to the OpenType value nalt, like nalt 2.

Formal syntax

normal | [ stylistic( <feature-value-name> ) || historical-forms || styleset( <feature-value-name># ) || character-variant( <feature-value-name># ) || swash( <feature-value-name> ) || ornaments( <feature-value-name> ) || annotation( <feature-value-name> ) ]

where
<feature-value-name> = <custom-ident>

Example

HTML

<p>Firefox rocks!</p>
<p class="variant">Firefox rocks!</p>

CSS

.variant {
  font-family: Leitura Display Swashes;
  font-variant-alternates: swash(2);
}

Result

Note: you need to install the OpenType font Leitura Display Swashes for this example to work.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
CSS Fonts Module Level 3
The definition of 'font-variant-alternates' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation Initial definition

Browser Compatibility

Feature Firefox (Gecko) Chrome Internet Explorer Opera Safari (WebKit)
Basic support 34 (34) [1] ? ? ? ?
Feature Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support ? 34.0 (34)[1] ? ? ?

[1] Experimental implementation available since Gecko 24, and was governed by the preference layout.css.font-features.enabled; default true on Nightly and Aurora only.

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