Text in tables -- smaller than or same size as regular body text?

Subject: Text in tables -- smaller than or same size as regular body text?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Milan Davidovic <milan -dot- lists -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2009 16:13:53 -0400

Milan Davidovic wondered: <<I'm looking at a user's manual. I do not
have access to the original author and therefore have to guess at
their intentions. Looking at the paragraph styles, I see that the
various table body (i.e. not heading) styles are in a smaller point
size than the regular body style. In looking at other books I have
close at hand, I see only table body text at about the same size (i.e.
not obviously smaller, though I didn't get a point ruler out to be
sure) as regular body text. Any thoughts on why table body text should
be smaller?>>

Text size should always and primarily be chosen to ensure readability,
with other factors such as the need to reduce page count or cram too
much information into too little space restraining our tendencies to
use 14-point type for everything. <g> The usual compromise is that you
try to pick a font large enough that it's readable even by astigmatic
old fogies like me, and standardize on that size wherever possible,
while still fitting enough onto the page that your manager doesn't
stroke out when they see the printing costs. Then you trim back the
size where you have something like a table that simply won't fit on
the page unless you shrink it somehow.

One nice thing about online documentation is that if you design it
right, users can choose their own type size. For example, if they're
viewing HTML etc. in a decent Web browser, they can use the Control-
+ shortcut to enlarge the type, or maybe even substitute their own
style sheet. Typographic preferences are intensely personal choices,
and there's no one optimal choice that satisfies everyone. So why not
let your readers make that choice for themselves?

Geoff Hart (www.geoff-hart.com)
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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text in tables -- smaller than or same size as regular body text: From: Milan Davidovic

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