Re: Font size

Subject: Re: Font size
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2000 12:15:00 -0700

Robert -dot- Partridge -at- MONDEX -dot- com wrote:

>Does anyone else use 9pt? Anyone use smaller?

That depends on the font:

1.) Fonts with a tall x-height are more likely to be readable at
smaller sizes. Of course, at too small a size, the ascenders may
start to disappear.

2.) Sans serif fonts or slab serif fonts are also more likely to
be readable at smaller sizes, for the same reasons that they
generally work better on-screen. Like on-screen display, smaller
sizes tend to obscure ordinary serifs.

3.) Some digital fonts simply aren't designed to work at smaller
sizes. You can use them at a smaller size, but the strokes of the
fonts look slightly wonky. Palatino is often cited as an example
of such a font; the workaround is to use a font like Aldus, which
is similar to Palatino, but whose metrics include proportions for
smaller sizes. Unfortunately, however, there is no indicator of
which fonts have small size proportions and which don't; you
simply have to learn the history of the fonts.

Undoubtedly, there are exceptions to all these rules, and
probably other considerations as well. Still, these usually work
for me.

Another truism is that the automatic leading for smaller sizes is
almost never enough. I almost always have to increase it and
experiment to find a suitable leading.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"The rich coming waving their money, but money's not the price,
Souls that gain admission cannot pay it twice,
Stock exchange quotations, do not list its name,
But behind the walls at Liberty Hall, they're buying just the
- Oyster Band, "Liberty Hall"

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