RE: Font size

Subject: RE: Font size
From: Max Wyss <prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch>
To: Mark Levinson <MarkL -at- gilian -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000 15:30:58 +0200


The reasoning for two point size difference is almost ideal. In fact, in order to have a decent differentiation between the font sizes, a factor of 1.2 should at least be applied.

It might even be better to have a factor of 1.33. Also, it depends a bit on the black coverage of the font. In many of my documents, I used to have the base font at, let's say 12 points, but for keys or other values, I used the bold font, one point size smaller. This gives a slightly more harmonic appearance.

In many cases, 12 points is a bit too big. 11 point can be a good replacement ... so much for the "even point sizes only" rule. In fact, quite a few newspapers are using 11 points, or 10.5 points (remember, there is no reason at all against fractured point sizes...).

Another thing to consider is that, for example for maintenance manuals used out there in the shop, 12 point might even be too small. Under sub-optimal light conditions with too short arms, 14 point as a base font might be more recommendable. Under these circumstances, the "smaller" font would be 11 points.

And one more thing about typography: Line spacing. The most widely used word processor creates rather difficult to read material in its default settings. The line spacing should be at least 1.2 times the font size; 1.3 is even better (giving a 15 pt leading for 12 pt fonts ... try it out, and see the difference).

Hope, this can help.

Max Wyss
PRODOK Engineering
Low Paper workflows, Smart documents, PDF forms
CH-8906 Bonstetten, Switzerland

Fax: +41 1 700 20 37
e-mail: mailto:prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch

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Cedric asked:

Has everybody used odd font size in technical documents?
Is not it better to use even font size?

I use even sizes, odd sizes, half sizes, but I do try to
follow the rule (and maybe this is the general rule of
which "even-only" is a variant) that different sizes in
the same type family should differ by at least 2 points.
For example, if you're using Garamond 12 and you
want something a bit smaller, you should skip Garamond 11
and go down to Garamond 10. The rationale, I believe, is
that the smaller differences are irritating because the
reader's eye is unsure whether a difference exists or not.

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