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

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Please note that this article used to have another layout1 that got lost in space during teh migration of content to new servers. – 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

    Very nice article! I’ve switched to using an 18px standard lately. 16px if the font has a larger x-height. I’ve worn glasses for 10 years now, and I just don’t know why anyone would want to strain their eyes playing around with some tiny font.

    0
  2. 52

    Viktors Rotanovs

    October 7, 2011 5:08 am

    MacBook Airs have 135dpi and 128dpi displays. Using smaller fonts creates very real problems for MBA owners. Zooming isn’t the best solution: pinch-to-zoom doesn’t reflow the page, and Ctrl-+ breaks many interface elements (buttons, etc).

    0
  3. 103

    I agree that we should all be paying greater attention to usability/readability. And I agree that 12 pixels on a high pixel density monitor is getting to look a little small.

    What I do not agree with is your facile linking of small text with loss of revenue. Lots of definitive stats presented on readability and visual acuity, zero on how readability hits conversion.

    If you tell me I’m losing money with small text, I expect to hear something more than vague insinuations that people *must* be turning away in droves from my otherwise awesome site because it’s in 14px body text.

    Gain points for advocating readability/accessibility. Lose points for failing to prove your central claim, which is that small fonts are a “costly mistake.”

    Finally: I agree that your article was actually a little hard to read. Column too narrow for your type size.

    2
  4. 154

    Very interesting article indeed and an enjoyable read but I don’t think a 1em font size is meant to work in every case.

    Bigger font size is often associated with book for small children and/or catering for the age/disability and depending on the audience that you are trying to reach this could actually be off-putting and costing you sales.

    0
  5. 256

    i totally agree with the author.
    i just had a client who asked to design his site with a 11px basis. i hated it, won’t even show in my portfolio.
    i’m sticking with the 100e2r (100% easy to read) stuff and it’s font sizes are sort of huge and i love them.
    and i’m surprised how many people here took their time just to bitch about petty stuff .

    -1
  6. 307

    Something that the http://largefontcoalition.org/ has been rallying for for years! (Actually, it’s our only platform.)

    -1
  7. 358

    I was reading this in Google Reader that has font-size set to 90% (about 13px).

    When I reached the end and saw you saying “this is written in 19px”, I just had to click through the website and see for myself. Indeed, much better.

    I always tend to constantly skip & search for what interests me in the body copy and this always results in eye strain. I want to read fast and font size is keeping me back.

    It was a pleasure writing this comment in 22px, thanks for the eye-opener (pun intended)

    -1
  8. 409

    I for one hate small body text and I am 19. So much so, in fact, that I used 20 px body copy for my last design. Maybe a little excessive but I felt it worked in the context I used it. Another point to be made is increased resolution; the fact that many smaller monitors are rocking 1900 x 1200 resolutions that make everything appears significantly smaller.

    1
  9. 460

    The trick you used at the end is pretty clever, but completely irrelevant. After reading an 18px font for 3-5 minutes, of course 12px will seem tiny and hard to read. But using 16px fonts as a general rule is simply not feasible for every scenario – screen real estate is limited, and when you need to get your user’s attention with the content ‘above the fold’, you can’t afford to use 16px fonts. Even Amazon (with 100s of millions of users) use 12px, and 16px only for headings.
    Perhaps in a blog, with lots of body text, larger text might make the users more relaxed while reading the article – in that case, I would agree with you.

    1
  10. 562

    Hm. I actually found this article very difficult to read and had to zoom out to read comfortably. These font sizes are obnoxiously big to me, and I don’t think it’s just what I’m used to — the footer text was a welcome relief to my eyes. Maybe it’s because I’m young (mid-twenties) or maybe I’m just a special case.

    I think choice of type size is largely dependent on audience. Next time I design a site aimed at middle-aged customers, I will remember this article. If I’m designing for people in my own age group, however, I’ll stick to 13 – 14 pt.

    0
  11. 613

    I’d like to mention. Besides font-size, line-length is important as well – if a line is to long readers will have a hard time to focus if is to short the eye hat to travel to much. A good length is something between 50 and 70 characters per line (about 12 words).

    0
    • 664

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 9, 2011 3:09 pm

      Indeed. I’d like to emphasize this, since a few people have said the narrow measure of this article made it hard for them to read. I set the measure at around 60 characters per line (depending on other factors). To the best of my knowledge, that is a nearly ideal measure for readability, with decades of research to corroborate it.

      -1
  12. 715

    are the comments 16pt as well?

    0
  13. 766

    Plz read Olivers article again before quoting stuff he didnt wrote and didnt mean.

    Next thing is, you cannot say 11-15px costs your client money. It may be true in some cases, and others it dont. It just depends and its the designers job is to know that. You obviously dont know it and repeat others ppl opinions you didnt unterstand.

    2
    • 817

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 9, 2011 3:11 pm

      Hi Markus, please could you point out what I quoted that Oliver did not in fact say?

      I am always careful to check my sources, so if you believe I have incorrectly attributed a comment to him, then I want to correct it.

      -1
  14. 868

    With the variation in screen resolutions these day I find it hard to that this kind of research on board.

    Lets look at it like this:

    I have a laptop at home, 15.6″ display running at 1920×1080 = a pixel density of 141ppi

    My wife has a laptop, again 15.6″ display but at 1366×768 = pixel density of 100ppi

    So assuming the default dpi is set in the OS on both machines, my wife’s laptop will display browser text 40% larger than on my own laptop simply down to the resolution.

    Resolution = massive factor in readability for text on screen

    These kinds of articles can only be taken as a guidance, there are too many factors to consider to come to a single conclusion that can apply to all

    16px on my laptop looks OK, bigger than I’m used to, but on my wife’s machine is actually difficult to read, it is all subjective, everyone has a different comfortable reading size because of their respective screen sizes and resolution.

    9
    • 919

      Agree.

      Let’s just the content, specified target audience, design direction & assets (fonts & necessary elements) “be the pilot”. And tell the machine to do the spoiling services.

      Also, after the “use black-on-white text” so called-movement, fixed-vs-responsive web grids ideas, eye candy vs minimum image usage suggestions, and-the bla-bla-bla-tra-la-la of:

      “let’s make all future websites looked just like plain Microsoft Words documents, so we can all go to sleep already, please?” articles.. and now, this??! 16px for body text?? Oh man.

      Truly.. very elderly thoughts :-)

      I have a simpler idea, if (elders’) readability is the case… let’s make a public vote, so all browsers make their built-in zoom (function) button BIGGER somewhere on their next update… case closed!

      (FYI: I’m 31, and I’m still enjoying 10-12px body text IF (and only IF) a site’s content is WORTH to read & visually well designed)

      2
  15. 970

    I agree (with a caveat). I believe designers have missed the mark on designing for readability / usability. It is hard for them to break out of the “small is tasteful” mindset. Now for the caveat – at my resolution 16 px look too big . . . I would set the minimum at 14px.

    -1
  16. 1021

    I totally agree with you. I never make my body copy smaller than 16 pixels. I find it to be the perfect size for an easy to read copy.

    -1
  17. 1072

    I understand the point, but this article is absolutely unreadable in the large font…and I’m over 40. The bright red makes it more painful, and if the point was readability, it’s lost in this presentation. I’m all for usability and accessibility, but this was a terrible way to present the argument.

    5
  18. 1174

    This text (and most of the comments) do not make any sense to me at all. I thought we were way past the age where we had to hardcode elements in *pixels*!

    Monitors have different physical dimensions and screen resolutions, so all this talk of “pixels” is irrelevant.

    0
    • 1225

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 9, 2011 3:17 pm

      Stephen, if only operating systems correctly identified monitor ppi and adjusted text display appropriately, you’d be right. Then we could set body copy at 12pt and rest assured that it would display the same size for people on iPhones and people on 30″ displays.

      Unfortunately we don’t live in that world, so we have to make do with rough-and-dirty guidelines instead.

      0
  19. 1276

    “At age 40, only half the light gets through to the retina as it did at age 20. For 60-year-olds, it’s just 20%.”

    So you saying that a 40 year old see things 50% darker
    and you reckon to a 60 year old things appear 80% darker

    you have medical proof of these “facts”

    Hmmmm….should I laugh now or later

    4
    • 1327

      Laugh now. As you get older, you won’t find it so funny.

      This article should be taken in the spirit it is offered which is simply asking you to consider how small is too small.

      Fact: Our vision deteriorates over the course of our lives and these changes need to be consider by designers, not brushed aside.

      -1
    • 1378

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 9, 2011 3:19 pm

      Baz, I cited a source for this fact. I believe the source is reputable and accurate.

      If you think it’s wrong, perhaps you could provide a reason other than your mere incredulity?

      Since the brain is remarkably good at signal processing, and can easily compensate for a lot of degradation (especially if it happens gradually), I’m not really sure what to make of your comment.

      1
  20. 1429

    I think people need to stop thinking about type size in pixels.

    As has been pointed out “16px” may be perfect for some typefaces but for many it’s way too small, or too large.

    The message in this post remains true but there’s more to it. Also consider the measure (IE how many words per line. “16px” is not always appropriate in, for example, a sidebar). Don’t forget the leading and most importantly the target audience.

    For me, there’s no excuse not to be setting our type in ems these days.

    0
    • 1480

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 7, 2011 2:06 pm

      Good comment, thanks James. A lot of people are taking my article as an ultimatum, which is understandable, but my concern is to get them to justify their font size decisions with facts and logic, rather than just base them on their gut.

      I still use px for setting font sizes because I find it a real pain in the ass to use ems with a decent vertical grid.

      0
      • 1531

        Hehe, it does indeed involve a few trips to the calculator and back. But it becomes second nature once you’re used to it. I can tell you how to create many pixel values in ems from a base of ~16px!

        *sad*

        0
  21. 1582

    Doesn’t your screen/print comparison imply we should be using *point* sizes for text, not pixels? On smaller and larger screens with different DPI pixel sizes will all be different, whereas point sizes will be the same (e.g. 12/72 of an inch).

    0
    • 1633

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 7, 2011 2:07 pm

      Hey Scott, that’s definitely a point worth considering. Especially as screen resolutions become wildly more disparate, I think points do make sense. Traditionally, designers (including myself) have resisted them because they’re not really appropriate to the pixel-based medium of the web. I wonder if that needs to be re-evaluated.

      0
    • 1684

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 9, 2011 3:29 pm

      Hi again Scott, further research shows that while this should be true, unfortunately it ain’t.

      12pt on a 15″ screen is significantly smaller than 12pt on a 23″ screen.

      The reason: operating systems don’t correctly identify the ppi of the displays they’re attached to. In fact, from what I’ve seen, pretty much every web-capable device created since 1995 is “hard coded” at 96 ppi—actual display resolution and size be damned.

      0
  22. 1735

    The credibility of this entire article was completely lost when I scrolled down and saw the author dressed like a character from the Goonies.

    0
  23. 1786

    I habitually enlarge just about everything I read online. I’m still young, but 16px is on the small end of my “comfortable reading size,” since I see no point in ruining my eyes for something I can change quickly.

    I’ve been using larger body text in my designs from the start, because if I don’t want to squint, why would anyone else?

    0
  24. 1837

    Interesting read, even if you may not agree with the arguments put forth, the comparisons to print font sizes are informative.

    0
  25. 1888

    It’s particularly charming that he writes an entire post about user-oriented design and making sure your users can see and read your content, on a page that has a huge blank bar on the left that pushes the content partially outside my window AND THEN also disables my horizontal scrollbar. I suppose this is technically Smashing’s fault, of course.

    2
  26. 1939

    Thank you for the article, and the research. As both a graphic designer, artist, and intellectual I often skip over completely a web site if it has illegible type, regardless of the reason, if I can’t read it you have lost me. And that for me is the bottom line. Assuming that a web site can afford to loose customers (that is their primary purpose, information and sales of some sort) is simply an indication of ignorance. As a fifty something, interested in all manner of information, I am a little baffled by the comments that it is alright to exclude me and my reading needs because I don’t fall into your supposed demographic. I might be buying for my grandchildren, what then?

    -1
  27. 1990

    I’m 56, keep my monitors at 32″ from my eyes, need significant correction from my glasses, have mild cataracts, and still prefer 12 point on screen. No neck craning here. But if your vision is typical, then I can see your point.

    1
  28. 2041

    What a fantastic article! I have often felt that using the bottom end of the font size safety zone if you like (10-16) is due to needing to cram lots of unimportant copy into a small space.

    -2
  29. 2092
  30. 2143

    Speed limit: 60mph for ALL roads.
    Anything less is a costly mistake.

    1
    • 2194

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 7, 2011 2:14 pm

      Howdy Dingle. Two things:

      1. Could you explain the relevant analogies between font size and car velocity?

      2. Since the article explicitly says 16 pixels for body copy wouldn’t a better analogy (assuming there is one at all) be 60 mph for all highways?

      0
  31. 2245

    You make a very good point. I can see why this works. Although on the smaller paragraph – if you set the line height correctly it isn’t as hard to read (still not as good as the 16px)

    0
  32. 2296

    I liked the post and wish the clients agree with this.

    Unfortunately, in my experience so far, having worked with big companies (and especially the ones involved in kids entertainment, which usually like things being BIG), clients want to fit so much content ‘above the fold’ that using a 16pt font would be impossible. Let’s not forget MPUs and various ads, which need to be in a specific position…

    0
  33. 2347

    A well written and reasoned argument, not to mention something that should have been said a long time ago.

    Thank you.

    -1
  34. 2398

    I am a web designer and my eyes are not so great. Honestly I use a 12pixel font size for almost every single website I make.
    But while reading your blog post, My eyes were more at ease. As soon as I read the author details, I felt a strain in my eyes.

    Most of my clients would not like me to use a large font, but am sure going to use them on my own sites from now on.

    1
    • 2449

      Harish, you will need to make sites at 19px, not 16px if you want to “enjoy” the effect the post had on your reading comfort.

      0
  35. 2500

    Lets not forget that to maintain credibility in a product, the design (in the web page) must still remain aesthetically pleasing.

    Aesthetics are a large part of usability. (but, yes. I found this article very easy to read and agree with the 16px type).

    *dislike the top nav

    0
  36. 2551

    I’m a very long-sighted web designer and had to lean backwards from the screen in order to read the majority of this article, so from a personal stance, I disagree. However, my own website alternates between 12px and 14px font sizes, which sits nicely in the middle of the spectrum.
    I do agree that large fonts are marginally better than the ridiculous 8 and 10px font sizes that became fashionable in the recent years, it’s a move in the right direction.

    0
  37. 2602

    Why on Earth are you giving typeface sizes in PIXELS? One of my laptops has a 98 PPI screen. Another has a 135 PPI screen. Do you think 16px on these two screens is even remotely similar? No.

    Font sizes should be done in points, just like typesetting.

    -2
    • 2653

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 7, 2011 2:16 pm

      Mackenzie, this is something I’m researching at the moment, but my initial reaction is that I’m inclined to agree.

      That said, designers have traditionally resisted using a print-based sizing system for a pixel-based format; hence my focus on pixels.

      0
  38. 2704

    Patrick Samphire

    October 7, 2011 8:07 am

    One of the things that has come up several times in the comments but which a lot of people aren’t really taking on board is that, these days, there is an awful lot more variation in displays. Most of those older websites that use 10 – 11px font size were designed when most of us were using low-resolution displays. 10 px looked pretty big on standard monitors less than 10 years ago. Hell, probably 5 years ago. Now, of course, on tablets or phones or monitors with high pixel density, they look terrible.

    What this variation means, of course, is that you either have to know that the vast majority of your visitors have a limited set of display devices, or you need to use some clever media queries to adapt font sizes (e.g., increase the font size for common tablet or phone resolutions, or for very big screens). It’s going to become increasingly difficult to design something that looks great on my grandma’s old monitor and on a retina display if you choose a single design and font size for all of them.

    -1
  39. 2755

    I’m an advocate for larger font sizes as well as more white space. I have seen some studies that suggest using some variability to impact readability, cognition and retention. For instance at times it may be helpful to have a small font in order to force the user to focus on something that requires understanding or retention. The difference between the small font size and the surrounding font size draws attention and the small font size makes the user focus harder and take more time to read/understand the material.

    I think one unintended side effect of large font size is also a reduction in usable space. This can constrain content authors to be more concise. Constraint breeds creativity.

    I have to agree with some of the other comments here about the choice of style detracting from the overall message of the article. The red, drop caps, serif font, shadow, etc., shock the user more so than the size of the text. I would have left the default styling in place and only adjusted the font size itself. This would have given the reader an easier model for comparison against other similar pages.

    Alex Poole has a good post about legibility of serif versus sans serif fonts @ alexpoole.info/which-are-more-legible-serif-or-sans-serif-typefaces.

    Viget is doing some studies on line length and legibility @ readability.viget.com

    And I really like Joe Clarks commentary on some of the studies regarding typography, line length and readability @ blog.fawny.org/2005/09/21/measures/

    0
    • 2806

      D Bnonn Tennant, Information Highwayman

      October 7, 2011 2:18 pm

      Thanks; I appreciate you sharing those resources. And no hard feelings about not liking my design ;)

      1
  40. 2857

    I think it depends on context. 16px wouldn’t work for displaying, say, the homepage of the nytimes, but it makes sense for an individual article.

    0
    • 2908

      In actuality – the front (home) page of especially a new site is designed to draw readers in to reading the full article. That’s why headlines and first paragraphs are nearly always larger in size. Our front pages should be the MOST easily scanable of anything.

      0
      • 2959

        The New York Times doesn’t match those criteria, though. It’s not a new site for the vast majority of its readers. They know what it is, and like, say, the BBC news website, they want to scan for interesting content.

        0
  41. 3010

    I agree with using somewhat larger fonts + I focus on varying the sizing between headers, photos and other design elements to keep the eyes interested. I don’t think anybody really wants to read copious amounts of tiny copy, I know I don’t. Looking at the pages in different resolutions and zoom modes when designing helps me arrive at the best size to use for a particular typeface. Admittedly, this font is a bit large, but I suppose maybe the author is merely pushing his point…which I believe is valid.

    0
  42. 3061

    Completely agree. I have been inching up the font size on sites I design and both clients and visitors are typically very appreciative. And though my eyesight is just fine (even though I’m 40, ha) I still find there are websites with excellent content I avoid reading just because the type is so small. And I’m a web developer! I know full well I could ctrl-+ the type up to legibility but it pisses me off that I have to, so I avoid the sites altogether.

    0
  43. 3112

    I find your subtitles font and the paragraph introduction font incredibly distracting.

    0
  44. 3163

    Typo alert: under second photo you wrote: 12 INCH text?

    -1
  45. 3214

    It’s so true that most users do not know how to increase the font size or zoom a web page. Make the site enjoyable from the start and you won’t need to rely on browser features you hope your audience is aware of. I’ve noticed that as I get older my designs and layouts are changing. More negative white space, narrow columns for body copy, brighter graphics, and yes larger font sizes. When I first started designing, small font sizes were the hotness, now those small font sizes can create a hot mess…

    Over the years I’ve also become more focused on the user experience and not just the design. I often say “You can design the most beautiful thing in the world, but if no one is there to experience it, who cares?”. So I totally agree with the statement “It is about what users want and what will best achieve our client’s goals.”

    Using larger font sizes will place more emphasis on typography and layout which should make for some interesting new trends (I hope!). Great article!

    0
  46. 3265

    im confusing. good point :) very good

    -2
  47. 3316

    Excellent points. Equally as stupid as too small of font size is: putting the text in a narrow ribbon down the middle of a full sized screen. On the screen I’m viewing this on I have 2/3rd’s of it white space! (60%). What a needless waste! To me, that’s the REAL next “bleeding-edge” that web developers MUST be addressing. Lots more wasted space there than in type size – although even I, more and more, need to use the “zoom” feature the past 12 months; and it’s especially true on development sites.

    0
  48. 3367

    Great post, good points, but why does this post look so different? Isn’t familiarity a big part of legibility, esp on the web? By changing the format you’ve asked me to relearn something. Also, sup with the line-heights? A little shallow, no?

    0
  49. 3418

    I read the entire text… your absolutely right :-)

    0
  50. 3469

    This argument doesn’t really matter IMO.

    How Users Read on the Web:
    They don’t.
    —Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen

    -1

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