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I can pitch in a bit of an answer. Points are based on inches--there are 72 points in an inch. But I'm not sure how this translates to on-screen display unless your monitor knows its dimensions in inches and then associates that with whatever screen resolution you pick.
Yes, the same font size will look different on monitors of different resolutions. The smaller the resolution, the larger the text looks. To test that out, change your monitor resolution while looking at a Web page or one of your help topics. So one font size may look illegible at one resolution and be perfectly readable at another. Our developers code for 1024 x 768 screen resolutions.
One other tip: Sans serif fonts look larger than serif fonts at the same font size, so sans serif fonts are generally better for body text online (you may have already realized that). But I don't know of any "standards" for size. You could always check the W3C site to see if they address those kinds of things, or if it's all coding-oriented.
Hope this helps,
Thanks, Ben. I went to the W3C web site and got some good information. Sounds like it's prefered to use the xs, sm, m, l, xl font sizes since users can automatically adjust these by selecting their "preferred" font size (from IE, select the size from the Page menu). Fonts styled in pts do not resize when the user changes his or her settings.
I'm still not convinced I have the right answer though. There are just so many variables to consider (monitor size, resolution, browser type, browser settings) relative to good old WYSIWYG print...