16 Pixels: For Body Copy. Anything Less Is A Costly Mistake

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Please note that this article has another layout1 that cannot be displayed here. – Ed.

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he just say 16 pixels? For body copy? Obnoxiously big! 12 pixels is ideal for most websites.”

I’d like to persuade you otherwise.

As usability expert Oliver Reichenstein says in “The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard2”:

[16 pixels] is not big. It’s the text size browsers display by default. It’s the text size browsers were intended to display… It looks big at first, but once you use it you quickly realize why all browser makers chose this as the default text size.

In this article, I’ll explain why 16 pixels should generally be the minimum size for body copy in modern Web design. If I don’t change your mind, perhaps you could chip in at the end and let me know why.

You see, in most cases, if you’re building websites with the font size set between 10 and 15 pixels, you are costing your clients money. And I aim to prove it.

Readership = Revenue

If you’re building a website for someone — even yourself — chances are its purpose is to make money.

Perhaps it’s to sell a product directly, or to offer a service, or just to generate leads. Whatever the case, it’s a business asset, and ultimately it has to generate a return on investment. It has to fulfill a revenue goal.

So, every element should be designed to achieve that goal. Including the copy. Especially the copy — because the copy is what convinces visitors to do whatever it is you want them to do on the website.

Think about it. If you don’t explain what people should do, or why they should do it, then they certainly won’t. And the only way to tell them is with text. And text means reading.

Important Facts About Reading

There are some particular findings that are pivotal to issues such as readership and readability and comprehension, which is really what body copy is all about. If people won’t read it, or if they can’t read it or understand it, then what’s the point of having it?

  1. At age 40, only half the light3 gets through to the retina as it did at age 20. For 60-year-olds, it’s just 20%.
  2. Nearly 9%4 of Americans are visually impaired, meaning their vision cannot be completely corrected with lenses.
  3. The distance at which we can read letters is a common measure5 of both legibility and reading speed. The greater the distance, the higher the overall legibility and comprehension are considered to be. The biggest factor that determines how far this distance can increase is font size. Seen any billboards lately?
  4. Most people, when sitting comfortably, are about 20 to 23 inches6 from their computer screens. In fact, 28 inches is the recommended distance, because this is where vergence7 is sufficiently low to avoid eye strain. This is much further than the distance at which we read printed text — most people do not hold magazines at arm’s length!
  5. 16-pixel text on a screen is about the same size8 as text printed in a book or magazine; this is accounting for reading distance. Because we read books pretty close — often only a few inches away — they are typically set at about 10 points. If you were to read them at arm’s length, you’d want at least 12 points, which is about the same size as 16 pixels on most screens:
    16-pixel text displayed on a 24-inch screen, next to 12-point text printed on paper.9
    16-pixel text displayed on a 24-inch screen, next to 12-point text printed on paper. (Large preview10)

    16-pixel text displayed on a 15.4-inch screen, next to 12-point text printed on paper.11
    16-pixel text displayed on a 15.4-inch screen, next to 12-point text printed on paper. (Large preview12)
  6. In a 2005 survey of Web design problems, bad fonts got nearly twice as many votes13 as the next contender, with two-thirds of voters complaining about small font sizes. If you think the situation has improved since then, think again. I randomly sampled some new blog designs on SiteInspire14 and found that the average font size for body copy was a measly 12 pixels. Some designs even used a minuscule 10 pixels. And none were over a weaksauce 14 pixels. Similarly, if you randomly sampled offerings on the popular Elegant Themes15 and ThemeForest16, you’d find that every single theme sets the main content at just 12 or 13 pixels.

Fact: Most Web Users Hate The “Normal” Font Size

With this research in mind, let me ask: how many of your client’s readers are around 40? Because they have to work twice as hard to read as 20-year-olds. If they’re closer to 60, they have to work four times as hard.

Almost 1 in 10 of your readers also has trouble with their eyes. Of the rest who don’t, most will still have to strain to read text smaller than 16 pixels, even if they don’t notice that they’re doing it. (How often do you find yourself hunching over the screen?) And that’s if they’re leaning close, which they would likely find awkward and unergonomic. Their natural sitting position will be at least an arm’s length from the screen!

In short, for the average Web user, reading most websites is not unlike taking an eye exam.

The harder your text is to read, the less of it will get read — and the less of what is read will be understood. 10 pixels is essentially pointless. 12 pixels is still much too small for most readers. Even 15 pixels will turn off visitors who might have otherwise converted.

Thus, we can conclude that if you want the maximum number of people to read, understand and act on your text, then you need to set it at a minimum size of 16 pixels.

“But Users Can Zoom”

If you code it right, people with vision issues can always use the Option and + keys to enlarge the text.

Thus spake one Web designer in a discussion I had on this very issue.

Not so. The users who will most need to adjust their settings usually don’t know how17. And the users who do… well, they’ll probably just take the easier path by hitting the “Back” button. It goes without saying that we shouldn’t take our clients’ money and then design websites for them that will make their visitors uncomfortable. Our personal tastes are not more important than best practices in usability.

Web design is not about what designers like. It is about what users want and what will best achieve our client’s goals.

If the objective of a client’s website is to achieve some revenue goal, then our role as designers is to come up with something to achieve that goal as effectively as possible. Picking a font size that we know most users will struggle to read, a font size that will reduce readership, a font size that will ultimately cost conversions, is not good choice.

In print, type as small as 8 points is an ideal compromise between readability and cost, because you have to pay for every millimeter you use. On the Web, you pay nothing for using more space — provided that readers find your copy compelling, of course. What you do pay for is readers finding your compelling copy so hard to read that they click away instead of converting.

So, the question is, are you prepared to cost your clients money for the sake of what looks good to you?

16 Pixels Is Not Big

Our tastes and aesthetic preferences as designers are a lot more malleable than we think. What “looks good” to us is largely the result of what we’ve seen other designers doing and what we’ve come to expect.

Unfortunately, most of the websites we’ve seen are packed with tiny copy, because once upon a time screens were tiny, and so designers matched them with tiny text — but no one got out of the habit.

This article is set in TeX Gyre Schola at 19 pixels. I picked this size because 16 to 18 pixels looked too small to me: as I sat back comfortably in my chair, 28 inches from the screen, I found myself squinting to see it. If I’d used Georgia or Verdana, 16 pixels probably would have been fine: they were designed with a larger x-height and so display better on screen.

Now, check out the footer just below and see whether you don’t hunch forward automatically, screw up your eyes and furrow your brow. That’s 12 pixels for ya. And if you still disagree after that, tell me why in the comments.

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://web.archive.org/web/20130104231015/http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/10/07/16-pixels-body-copy-anything-less-costly-mistake
  2. 2 http://www.informationarchitects.jp/en/100e2r/
  3. 3 http://www.whatmakesthemclick.net/2011/06/03/first-podcast-kevin-larson-2/
  4. 4 http://www.who.int/blindness/table/en/index.html
  5. 5 http://www.whatmakesthemclick.net/2011/06/03/first-podcast-kevin-larson-2/
  6. 6 http://www.eyefatigue.com/cvs-computer-glasses.asp
  7. 7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergence
  8. 8 http://www.informationarchitects.jp/en/100e2r/
  9. 9 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/print-v-screen-cropped.jpg
  10. 10 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/print-v-screen-cropped.jpg
  11. 11 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/print-v-laptop-cropped.jpg
  12. 12 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/print-v-laptop-cropped.jpg
  13. 13 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/designmistakes.html
  14. 14 http://siteinspire.com/showcase/category/type/blog
  15. 15 http://elegantthemes.com/
  16. 16 http://themeforest.net/
  17. 17 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/guesses-data.html

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Bnonn is the author of a free video course on the secrets of creating websites that capture readers and turn them into customers. Known in the boroughs as the Information Highwayman, he helps small businesses sell more online by improving both their copy and design. When he’s not knee-deep in the guts of someone’s homepage, he is teaching his kids about steampunk, Nathan Fillion, and how to grapple a zombie without getting bit. (Also you can follow him on Twitter.)

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  1. 1

    It’s a good rallying cry, but under the wrong flag I think.

    As designers we need to stop being such control freaks, and let the users define their own display.The most adaptive technique is using percentages, not points, and by no means pixels, especially in the world where every different device has different pixel (ppi) density.

    Do you remember the Dao of Web Design?
    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/dao/

    16
  2. 302

    Ingrid Kast Fuller (@ingridfuller)

    November 29, 2011 9:43 am

    The comments on this article are a perfect size for me. The article text is a little too big and the footer was too small.

    I agree with Petar Subotic, using percentages especially because we should be looking toward Responsive Web Design now because we have so many devices out today.

    13
  3. 603

    Thanks, B. Nonn, for putting forward some interesting arguments.

    I have to disagree with the idea that there is no cost involved in using larger fonts on the web. Designing an effective and appealing web page is about the careful balancing of a number of different factors, with font size being just one. Get this *balance* wrong, and there could be a severe cost.

    For example, using a larger font would make a form look much longer, and research shows that this perception can be enough to reduce response rates. And it’s pretty clear to me that the lack of contrast between text and background on Mark Boulton’s site (for instance — nothing against him personally!) would undermine the readability more than the large font improves it.

    So while it’s great to have the data to suggest we over-estimate our readers’ ability to see what we produce, I think this should just be part of what we consider when deciding font size.

    Thanks,
    Jessica Enders
    Principal, Formulate Information Design

    18
  4. 1205

    There are so many things I take issue with here. One is that browsers’ default type being 16px means anything to a page design. How long have browsers been built that way? Why is 16px now the ideal body copy size as opposed to every other year they shipped this way?

    Not every site is a single column blog. You completely ignore the total design of the page (type hierarchy) in order to declare one size “best.” Your type is not well set enough to help your argument, either. Your line height makes this text *more* difficult to read than a smaller, well set size. The footnote bit is also set as #444 which makes it more difficult to read, but you’ve not written about contrast at all, only size.

    Further, you ignore mobile and focus on desktop only. How long will that be the prevalent browsing experience? Most of these devices are much closer to the eyes, and a properly set viewport clears up a lot of issues without going for 16px as a minimum.

    Lastly, you may think that just web designers read this. They’re not the only ones. So when I get a client who comes along and tells me every piece of text on the page must be at least 16px for a complex site, I’ll know where they got the idea. Should my H1 be 48px, too? I have had a client go back into a site design and restyle it for 16px minimum. It looks AWFUL. 16px type should not be a driving principle. Clear design thinking SHOULD be.

    30
    • 1506

      Until now every singles comments I’ve read is completely right, but @Rob you nailed it.

      Thanks for that!

      @Bnonn, though your intentions seems to be good, you clearly missed all of the design principles on this one…

      -3
  5. 1807

    I stopped reading when it wasn’t fontsize=1 fontfamily=verdana and alien green text on black.

    What a newb. Eye damage is a right of passage and font-size = small a design crutch for the Y2K crowd.

    Honestly though, HE IS WRONG. How much money does Facebook make? What’s the font size there? Digestible, fast loading mini text.

    But why do 16px fonts when you can just have them scale perfectly to whatever device? And why not just use the zoom feature built into every modern device ever?

    Why do we constantly need to build entire sub industries around the ineptitude of the end user? If it’s just about money, well I say you’re losing money by changing web standards every 28 days like a menstrual cycle.

    CTRL + Mouse Wheel = Problem Solved. ALL CAPS 25px fonts and uninteresting content = money lost. If not because you alienated your viewer, then because you had to pay money to an adhoc blog writer.

    I say if you can’t read the internet you should be a Walmart door greeter until society changes again.

    I didn’t read to the bottom of the page where he tries to rebuke the web designer who said ‘use the golly darned zoom functionality’ … okay I did. But it wasn’t the massive text that got me there. Or the boring tone.

    If it’s really about making money, then why not just jack the lowest common denominator into the pseudo matrix and hook em up to a dopamine transmitter attached to a giant big arsed unmissable red button and charge money to their credit cards every time they push it and when they run out of FIAT credit supplied by a broken economic system replace said chemical with cyanide and turn their decomposing body into usable energy? How’s that for efficiency and a solution to the population problem.

    I would argue that it is far more costly in the long run to constantly cater to weakness and fight against evolution.

    RAISE UP humans. Try harder.

    And no, I didn’t hunch forward and furrow my brow to read the page footer but that is just because I have no interest in BNONN.

    Anyway, I jest… now that most people are using 1920×1200 monitors you really should up the font size. If you’re still using 1024 x 768 – get with the times. We live in a disposable society.

    Peace out.

    Thanks for letting me waste your time to add nothing to a needless conversation that common sense should have solved years ago. I hope you had to stare hunched over with furrowed brow getting massive screen radiation to read this 10pt facebook text.

    -56
    • 2108

      Using a low contrast font to reduce readability of trolling comments is a usability problem. Here I sit trying to read it and straining my eyes in the process. Why not just hide the idiotic rant and make me click something to get a readable version?

      6
  6. 2409

    Funny thing – we always debate the ideal format for blogs and articles here (for ourselves and our clients). Our blog lacks readability and we’ve wanted to redesign it for 18 months now, we just never find the time! Hell, can’t even make the time to post blogs!! But, this is a design issue that we discuss for almost every site we create.

    Fundamentally though, the issues are:
    1) Too many words on a line is difficult for eyes to track – which leads to strain.
    2) Low contrast is difficult to read, which strains.
    3) Small font size is difficult to read, which strains causing squints, hunching, etc – and of course, also leads to #1.

    The fact is, while it looks large to us, the number of words per line is far closer to optimal – as opposed to 12, 15, or even 20 words in the worst cases. Part of the reason some college text books were so hard to read without falling asleep was the number of words per line. That and they were incredibly pointless and boring. However, in almost all printed material, you see pages broken into multi-column format. Why? It’s easier to read.

    And to keep the topic on track, this is about articles/blogs – copy intended for the user to read/consume. Forms are not included in this. However, the description of a form’s intent should be. (“Please fill out this handy contact form so we can send you a personalized design mug with accompanying vagrant sea bass!!”)

    Lotsa haters out here – but a good topic.

    Thanks,

    Greg of the OnWired clan.

    13
  7. 2710

    Very good article and an even better message. 16 px is a perfect on-screen size, and more importantly also means that text renders at a relatively legible size on phones & tablets, for sites which aren’t designed responsively or with a mobile-specific version.

    Although I have to agree with others who have said that we ought really to be steering away from px measurements in favour of % or em.

    9
  8. 3011

    Very constructive article. Content and content is the most important thing in all interfaces and of course the presentation it goes in paire with it. User friendly called by marketing people and I think that this rule have to be respected. Thanks again for this article. Daf

    0
  9. 3312

    While I laud the premise that most web sites use too small text, 16px is just as wrong as 12px or 10px or 24px. Any px is wrong for sizing anything other than objects that have intrinsic sizes measured in px.

    Why?

    1-Screen densities vary widely, as do reading distance and other user environment variables. While the CSS spec defines a px as an angular measure that shouldn’t be affected by distance, in practice browsers don’t match up with the spec, because they’re incapable of anything other than too granular conformance – no fractions allowed – in matching up device px to CSS px.

    2-This is the bigger problem, and it’s huge: Defining font sizes in px (or pt or mm or any other “absolute” measure) disregards the browser default size, which disrespects the visitor. The browser default is presumptively the ideal size for the user. He’s the one in position to do anything about it if it’s inappropriate. No designer is. There’s too much variation in device densities, viewport dimensions, viewing distances, and viewer needs to ever say anything sized in px is ideal, or anything close thereto.

    If 16px is an ideal base size on your developing screen, and your developing browser default is 16px, then you’re also saying 1em is ideal. Indeed, 1em is always an ideal base size, as it (presumptively) matches the user’s ideal size perfectly, no matter the screen density, viewing distance, viewer, or any of the other environmental variables a designer has no knowledge of or control over.

    Zoom is a browser defense, like the “readable” scriptlet (which converts gray text to high-legibility black text and non-white backgrounds to high-legibility white here). Defenses generally aren’t necessary on sites that don’t present users with offensive styling.

    6
  10. 3613

    I think you’re right about text generally being too small on most websites.

    There are of course a number of ways to do this, but in terms of the creative that gets signed off by the clients, I’m already moving towards larger font-sizes on all aspects of the designs, and I’ve only had positive feedback from clients.

    0
  11. 3914

    It’s the principle of the thing. Increase body font size = improved reading experience (based on evidence given in this article, the web survey cited and opinions of many). Whether that means px or % or ems it doesn’t matter.
    If you’re into the responsive thing already than do it in ems or % or whatever, but I think the point is that body font size needs to be approx. 16px for all the good reasons explained in this article and most of the comments here.
    I have to agree with @Greg:
    “And to keep the topic on track, this is about articles/blogs – copy intended for the user to read/consume.”
    The topic is body copy text size, just like the title of the article says.
    Obviously caption text and sidebar text and meta text don’t need to be huge. If you start with 16px (or body {font-size: normal or 100%} and then whatever that ends up being using relative measurements) you can apply same typography principles of hierarchy ect. I think of this as just moving up the scale.

    Check out trentwalton.com specifically. One of my favorite sites for many reasons, but the typography is one of them. The body text font size is 20px (or 137.5% for screens larger than 900px wide) Another good example of a nice looking site with great typography is jasonsantamaria.com his font size there is 20px.

    1
    • 4215

      Maybe i need to get my eyes check but both of the sites that you referenced are just obnoxiously large and i don’t want to read it at all, especially trentwalton.com/.

      0
  12. 4516

    The font in this article hurts my eyes (actually makes me feel a bit sick) and is definitely not optimum.

    0
  13. 4817

    While I totally agree that overthinking the common use of 12 or 13 px big fonts is necessary and 16px is indeed a good option.

    I think the argument “… all browser makers chose this as the default text size” shouldn’t matter. Just because something is the default, it does not mean it is the best option.
    There are far better arguments for increasing font size and they make much more sense than using “default”.

    1
  14. 5118

    I learned a lot from the article and comments. I especially appreciated learning that em or % is probably the better way to go for setting on-screen font size. Thank you, all.

    -1
  15. 5419

    I have an approx. 18 in. monitor, which (I just measured) I sit 18 to 20 in. from. At a 1600 by 1200 resolution, this leads to a DPI of a little over 100. While I can’t be sure my vision counts as normal (I’m thirty and have awful sight without correction. With an up-to-date prescription can be corrected to better than 20/20, but my current prescription is a few years old.), but I have to view much of the web at various levels of zoom. In particular, I have to zoom (oft mentioned above) Facebook quite a bit.
    Luckily Chrome remembers my zoom settings for various sites. Otherwise I’d probably go batty. It’s like a ritual, go to new site, fix font size, read content.
    Doing a little math, 12px text at 100 dpi is less than 9pt text. At a reading distance nearly one and a half times what is considered normal for printed matter where 9pt text is acceptable. Furthermore, due to the low DPI of most displays (relative to printed material at 300-600 DPI), typeface details at small sizes are less clear than print as well.
    The article’s recommended 16px text is nearly 12pt and the 19px it’s set in is a little over 13.5pt. While these may seem like large sizes, when one factors in the reading distance, the angular measurements are equivalent to 7.68pt and 9.12pt respectively, while 12px is reduced to an unreadable 5.76pt.

    7
  16. 5720

    “Fact: Most Web Users Hate The “Normal” Font Size”

    How should we understand that heading? The text says the opposite.

    0
  17. 6021

    your blog looks fine in 16 point but my boss can read it 10 miles away. Its too big and isnt practical for web design in general.

    Let the user decide.

    0
  18. 6623

    Honestly, attempting to read this article with body copy so large made my head hurt, and the shadow on the drop caps made things worse. I’m sorry but I actually find the font choices and styling in this article overall to be awful (my opinion).

    I was intrigued because I normally use 13px (which I’m pretty sure I learned from a smashing article a few years back), and some of my clients (mainly the ones who attempt to design themselves and are the worst to deal with) comment that it’s small.

    So I went into this hoping to learn something new… I learned not to use 16px for body copy. Never would I want to put my users through that, outside of a welcome paragraph at the top of the page.

    -1
  19. 6924

    I am designing my website. I am trying to find out the best size for the texts. You are 100% correct. If my visitors are in trouble to read the texts, then why should I write the texts?
    Thanks for your excellent arguments and working samples.
    With best of regards,
    Subodh

    0
  20. 7225

    Ezekiel (@ebinion)

    August 17, 2012 12:42 am

    A blanket size of 16 pixels for body copy is wrong for many reasons. However, it’s clear that 12px is too small and as interactive designers we should trend upwards in our fonts sizes.

    A few more good reasons to increase font sizes:

    1. Larger text is easier to read at a glance. This is especially great for the segment of mobile users that truly have “one-eye and one-hand” during use.

    2. TVs are emerging as a web platform. Users sit much further away from them, making it difficult to read smaller fonts.

    3. Tools like Instapaper & Reader make money (in-part) by giving users an experience that’s easier to read than the websites that we’ve been designing for years. (Take a look at their font sizes.)

    0
  21. 7526

    12-14 seems to be my comfort level, I would opt on larger vs small. Facebook is too small.

    Most of my clients prefer larger vs the small. (Maybe we are old).

    I am having difficulty with the contrasts. Many of the templates I see are low contrast (light to medium grey on white) – I have big problems with this.

    1
  22. 7827

    I’m calling bullshit!
    Here’s another UE guy trying to claim fame and fortune and industry authority.
    The larger the font the harder it is to skim the page, because your has to do more work and and it also makes the page longer and that just adds to the scroll time. computers are going to retina as well and in a few years the monitor definition and clarity will be that much better. Not a point for now but just saying.
    I’m going to listen to a guy who is wearing glasses and obviously biased.
    I’m calling bullshit.

    0
  23. 8128

    I never realized that designers were such a conservative lot! Okay. I knew they were politically speaking (though they don’t like to think of themselves as conservatives, most are neoliberals or libertarians, so vote for Clinton-like Dems). BUT I figured that, surely, designers are open-minded when it comes to design itself, and — since they are designers creating user interfaces, and not artists — I figured that surely designers want to maximize user access and, well, usability. Guess I was wrong about that. These comments mostly demonstrate a stunning degree of dogmatism. Nearly every comment defended the common practice of setting web type at 12px or so. Most of those comments gave no reason at all except “design” (ie: it’s what the designer is used to doing, and used to seeing).

    Unfortunately though, the author of this article did himself, and his case, a *tremendous* disservice by choosing to set the article’s type at 19px. And he doesn’t explain this until late in the article, so I suspect most readers assume the article is set at 16px. (It also makes the examples of smaller type look extra-small, which is a bit deceiving, albeit unintentionally so. I think.)

    Moreover, while the author goes on about the importance of considering the diversity of users, and how users actually view webpages, the author opts for a rather obscure font to lead his font stack — and it’s his view of that particular font which leads him to set his type at 19px. He explains that he probably would have used 16px in the article had he chosen Georgia or Verdana. Well, I the article is set with Georgia on my PC, and I suspect that’s what many readers see. And Georgia at 19px really truly does look oversized. The author failed to take his own advice when he did not choose Georgia, or another very common font, to lead his font stack (or choose to use a hosted web font service which would guarantee we would see the same font). This really puzzles me because then the author, by his own admission, would have stuck with 16px had he used Georgia or another font with a very large x-height.

    (Btw, I suspect the history of web designers having to use Georgia and Verdana is what led most to reduce the default p font size to something like 12px or maybe 14px. The most recent web font releases from Microsoft — the distributor of Georgia and Verdana too — don’t look overly large at all at 16px. Constantia and Cambria look fine, or even a tad small, at 16px …or 1.0em.)

    Steve

    4
    • 8429

      This comment (from Steve) absolutely nails it. I too saw the article at 19px and thought I was looking at 16px until halfway through the article. I didn’t dislike the article font at all, but it was a tad larger than necessary – ironically, 16px would likely have been perfect on my display.

      That said, I want to echo the call for a truly device-independent size unit (which points would be if browsers didn’t asininely assume 96 DPI) and, absent that, deriving all sizes as percentages from the browser’s configured default – such that the body of the text on the site is 100%. What really needs to happen is for browsers to make it super-easy (and obvious) to set the “base” font and size.

      Also, for what it’s worth, the size of the font in this comment-entry textbox is an ungodly 10.68 px. I can’t read it without straining. At least the comments themselves are OK.

      0
  24. 8730

    I agree 100% with your article. But I still had IE on 125% zoom so I could read the other comments. Anyone who disgrees with you is either an idiot, young,or a webdesigner (minor shades of difference.

    3
  25. 9031

    Hello I am 26 and I was straining to read the copy on the website that I was creating thanks for the information going to pass this along to other design friends

    0
  26. 9332

    Great article. I’m new to web design. Only been doing it for about 2 years. I’ve known HTML and CSS for years though. But over night I redid my record labels website and made it a responsive design (was before but not perfectly).

    I’m in college right now and in english they say when doing a paper the most professional font size is 12px. So in an effort to make my website top notch I made sure all font was Times New Roman 12point. Sadly it was hurting my eyes a bit. I did a quick search on optimal font size for the web and this article was at #1. I comfortably read through it and with quicker speed.

    I just changed my site over to 16point font. I fully agree with you.

    0
  27. 9633

    Great, another self-appointed expert looking for fame and fortune through cheap eZine articles. When you build the next Google, Facebook or Amazon etc. that have millions of users then I will listen to your one size fits all view on how everything should be. To me, 16px is far to large but for others it would be perfect but since browsers render fonts differently and different fonts render differently, difference screen resolutions and so on, I will leave it up to my users to decide how large the text should be. This is nothing more than a sensationalist article to try and increase click through rates for his so called free email secrets that no one else on the entire inter webs has found, well done, you have found the holy grail to the internet, have a cookie and while your munching on it, quit being cheap, unoriginal, uncreative and lazy and build a site people would actually use rather than one that looks like a scam.

    -1
  28. 9934

    Patrick Percy Blank

    March 17, 2014 1:12 am

    Awesome. Would you mind if I translate this WORD-FOR-WORD into German? Lets find a suitable domain and host translations there. In EVERY language.

    0
  29. 10235

    When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.
    In summary of all the comments about this article. The author wants to plug in a one size fits all solution regardless of context (let see his portfolio I say. The proof of the pudding is in the eating) He needs to stop thinking reductively and consider readability in context. Point size must be thought of in relation to x-hight, line spacing, line length, the amount of text on the page and in what medium and function. Context governs appropriateness. “Form ever follows function.” — L.S.

    If you all want to learn about type, start by reading one of the many good books about type that are available. Robet Bringhust’s Elements of Typographic Style is recommended reading in most university typography courses and has been for years, for good reason. surveying your audience to make design decisions will never get your work past mediocrity.

    0
  30. 10536

    Alipta Ballav

    May 2, 2014 4:57 am

    Why are disclaimer text always kept in small fonts?

    0
  31. 10837

    Love your article!! I am a 66 year old who loves larger fonts…because I can’t see the tiny fonts a lot of websites use. I am so glad to see it wasn’t all me…it’s a proven fact that larger is better. My other pet peeve is this light gray a lot of web designers are using. I know black can be harsh but it seems like some of them are getting lighter and lighter with there grays, especially with they pair it with a light colored background that makes the gray get lost on the page.

    And you are right, the people who need larger fonts to see don’t know about the Ctrl+ to increase the page size. Personally, I use that all the time but I didn’t have to do that with your page. I could see it clearly and enjoyed reading it. I think the size of the font depends a lot on the font style, too. Even though you used a 19 px it probably would have been ok at 16 px because of the choice of font you used.

    Those are just some of my thoughts. Thanks for the excellent article.

    0
  32. 11138

    I am 56 and prefer not to use glasses to read the web and I totally agree with your article (I think all commenters should state age and whether they have to use glasses to browse so we know where they are coming from). The other thing that annoys me is sites that not only use small fonts but use a light grey to make it almost impossible to read.

    0
    • 11439

      [Re: grey type]

      Here, here! The desire to make pages look “artsy” often trumps well tested comparisons about what works in typography and what doesn’t. (Ask any printer.)

      Screening back large, bold lettering in a title header can really improve the appearance of a page so it doesn’t spill too much dead black “ink”. But screening back denser, smaller body text to anything less than pure black on pure white is simply suicidal.

      0
  33. 11740

    The reason for seriphs is to aid the reader with “hints” to quickly distinguish one letter from another where they are similar, which makes text (particularly body text) faster reading. Just as capitalizing a sentence more clearly marks its beginning and speeds reading. (The Romans didn’t spend all that extra time chiseling seriphs into text literally written in stone merely to make the type look prettier.)

    The popular adoption of sans-serif for body type on the web has arisen mainly because its (mostly) straight vertical and horizontal lines align nicely with the way pixels are arranged, which allows designers to use finer font weights and sizes. This was particularly true back when monitors were less capable of high resolution. The habit stuck.

    Designers design according to their preferences, but readers read according to theirs. If there’s a conflict of preference, the designer looses every time. This obvious wisdom has not yet been received by all designers.

    0
  34. 12041

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m finding the comment section much more appealing then the article itself.

    5
  35. 12342

    Ya, the readability on mobile was my thought also … that’s where I really see the attrition even more so than on desktop as more and more people are connecting via smartphones.

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  36. 12643

    D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

    October 7, 2011 2:27 pm

    Tom, point them to Jakob Nielsen’s excellent study on scrolling and attention.

    That’ll shut them up :)

    0
  37. 12944

    LOL.. couldn’t agree more on both of you ;-)

    1
  38. 13245

    Thanks! I sure will do.

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