RE: Online fonts and sizes

Subject: RE: Online fonts and sizes
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 10:31:04 -0500

Love it, Jane!

There was work done several decades ago on this question, focused on outdoor signage, that led to the conclusion that black-on-yellow is first, followed by red-on-white. However, I think this was in the context of designing warning signs for use in all sorts of light conditions and didn't really apply to text readability.

For reading text on monitor or on paper, black on some variant of white seems to work best, with spot color thrown in, perhaps, for headings or other occasional page elements if you want to spice up the design a bit.

Paper color is a consideration, especially for longer works, like novels. A bright white, calendared finish (or, worse, a glossy finish) actually seems to be harder on the eyes than an off-white, softer finish. In high tech, and for glossy hard-sell marketing, designers tend to prefer the bright white, high-finish papers, because they convey something about the modernity of the company. But for book-length works, I'd avoid them. The exception is coffee table art books, where the glossy paper is best for art reproductions.

In any case, as several others have pointed out, paper choice and printing method have a major influence on the readability of a given font. One size definitely does not fit all.


"Jane Carnall" wrote:

>Bernd Hutschenreuther asks:
>Is there a special color combination which increases the readability?
>Yes. Black text, white page. <g>
>Actually, if you look at the laws of heraldry - never put a colour on a
>colour or a metal on a metal - that's a pretty good basic guideline to
>visibility. The metals are gold and silver (yellow and white, Or and Argent)
>and the colours are red, green, blue, purple, and black (Gules, Vert, Azure,
>Purpure, Sable). I find it's a good rule of thumb, though not an absolute
>guideline, and it's been usability-tested for approximately 8 centuries.

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