Font sizes?

Subject: Font sizes?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 11:40:07 -0400

David Neeley helpfully notes: <<I believe it is helpful in this
discussion to realize that fonts vary widely in their readability at
particular sizes, so all-encompassing rules related to "minimum font
sizes" may not be very helpful.>>

That's true indeed. And for online information, it reminds us that to
the extent this is possible, we should not hardwire typefaces and
font sizes; leave it to readers to choose the parameters that are
best for them. No one (type) size fits all, and we should never
assume that it does.

For print, I'm increasingly finding that anything smaller than 10-
point Times Roman (and equivalent x-heights for other fonts) is
becoming difficult to read -- and I'm not exactly "aged" yet. <g>
This suggests that if you don't know your audience well (i.e., if you
can't confirm they're all young pups with perfect vision), it would
be wise to choose a size of at least 11 point (again, Times Roman
equivalent). That may be overkill for most readers, but it's a
conservative approach that demonstrates concern for those with
significant visual impairments.

<<Within fairly broad bounds, factors such as the font's x-height can
make a huge difference.>>

Indeed, that's why I specified "Times Roman equivalent" above. <g>

<<In fact, when mixing two fonts on a page, it may be necessary to
adjust point sizes to compensate for the differences in visual
size... So far as I am aware, there is no formula to guide us in this
matter--it is a judgment call, but one that is helpful to keep in
mind when designing a page layout.>>

I'm not aware of any rule either, other than that many people prefer
grid-based alignment when you're using multiple columns (i.e., so
that lines of type line up horizontally). But it's certainly an
important point that not all type sizes are created equal. Thanks for
raising the point!

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Font sizes; was: Re: Legal requirements for document accessibility.: From: David Neeley

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