Re: Readability and point size

Subject: Re: Readability and point size
From: Keith Soltys <ksoltys -at- DJTTD -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 18:28:18 GMT

On Wed, 15 Jan 1997 15:55:50 -0500, Jean Weber wrote:

>I have complained for years about software interfaces with tiny type that I
>cannot change (other than by changing the screen resolution). Fortunately
>in much modern s/w, I can change the size of type on user-editable things.
>Unfortunately this does not include the online help!
>Please spare a thought for the millions of people with poor eyesight, when
>deciding on a point size for anything. I realise it's a tradeoff with a lot
>of other factors, but don't just assume that because people are "used to
>reading small print," that they are comfortable doing so.

I have to agree with Jean on this one. I am very nearsighted (>-20 diopters
correction). At work, I have a gorgeous Sony 20" monitor for my PC, which
helps greatly. But I also have to use an X-terminal, which has a 17" monitor.
There doesn't appear to be any way of increasing the size of the mouse
cursor, as there is on PCs under the variants of Windows, which makes it
extremely difficult for me to use the UNIX applications on the X-terminal.
It's harder to find a small, moving mouse cursor on the screen than it is to
deal with tiny type.

At home, I use a 14" monitor. A while back, I upgraded my copy of Microsoft
Money from Version 2 to Version 4. Much to my surprise and dismay, I found
that there was no way to increase the size of the font in the ledger window.
To add insult to injury, the designers of the software had reduced the size
of the window by adding a pretty decorative frame which can't be turned off.
I ended up going back to version 2, which uses a larger ledger window.

Another related issue is colour choice. For people who are visually impaired,
the ability to customize colours can make a big difference in the usability
of a program.

As for printed documents, I'd avoid anything less than 10 point unless
absolutely necessary. If you have to go to a smaller font, try to pick one
with a large X-height.


Keith Soltys -- ksoltys -at- djttd -dot- com --
Senior Technical Writer, Technical Development, Dow Jones Telerate Canada Inc.
Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you;
if you don't bet, you can't win. --Robert A. Heinlein

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