jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- ftc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

Subject: jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- ftc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 19:52:40 -0500

Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- FTC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV> wrote:

>Does anyone have any statistics or know of any articles >regarding use of different point sizes for readability? >Specifically, is bigger always better (hardcopy

Given the same font, I'd choose 12 points over 10 any day. However,
readability also depends on the font. I just did a manual in 10 point
Stone, and I was very pleased with the readability. Bookman, too, is
very readable. Probably, there are others.

Things to look for when choosing a font to use at small sizes? I'd

1.) x-height (the height of the letter "x" or any other letter without
ascenders or descenders)

2.) letter width (often overlooked, but very important; condensed
typfaces at 10 point probably aren't going to work).

3.) color (how dark the body of the text looks on the page; many fonts
at small sizes look very pale. That's one reason why Aldus was designed
to accompany Palatino, which is very washed out--as well as
indistinct--at smaller sizes).

4.) weight: thin strokes can be lost; thick ones can make the letters
blur together at small sizes.

5.) font category:with some serifs and many sans serifs, the letters
tend to blur together. Serifs might work better in many cases. A font
like Optima, which has qualities of both serifs and SS might be a good
choice for a small size, too.

Bruce Byfield (bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com)
Technical Writer
Burnaby, BC, Canada
(604) 421-7189

"You can go home again, so long as you understand that home
is a place you have never been." --Ursula K. Le Guin

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