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

    And one of the BIG mistakes nowadays is using custom fonts that don’t have decent hinting, resulting in the need to increase the font-size to disproportionate sizes to assure readability. Seriously, a properly hinted font works ok from 12px to 14px. I personally like 13px on a 1440×900 19″ screen and on 1280×800 12″ laptop screens.

    Of course that given that pixel density is increasing quite a bit lately and OSs may not compensate for that well enough when displaying text. You have a good point, though I don’t agree with 16px, 14px is more than enough and pushing it towards big already. Again, use a properly hinted font which doesn’t require such huge font sizes for good readability and look at different OSs and hardware configurations.

    0
  2. 152

    I found your excellent article while researching for setting up my first website for a retired readership. Perfect advice for a newbie. Thanks so much!

    **I** will leave a website that has too-small print; so, yes, it’s costing them. If I don’t read, I won’t stay around to buy or become loyal, and I won’t recommend them; so it might be costing them twice… at least.

    I was thrilled to learn how to change the font size; so helpful for emergencies; but I really don’t want “one more thing to do”. It slows me down.

    I’ve notice that since about 2009, I get physically nauseous when reading Times New Roman (serif) font, in any size, in print or on screen. It feels “old school”, staid, and rigid; that doesn’t resonate with me, anymore, and I leave.

    When I have REALLY, REALLY wanted to read dinky-print or Times New Roman content, I have copied and pasted whole articles to an E-mail or Word document so I could enlarge the font size or change the font. No fun.

    -1
  3. 303

    While usability studies do show that 16px is a better size for reading on screens, the logic in this article is very poor, and does not consider all sorts of other things. For one, line length should be 12-15 words generally. in this article it is far shorter. that is why it is hard to read. It also ignores scrolling as a potential usability issue. As a web designer I identify other issues too. Websites are generally built at 960px wide or less. With a large point size and 12-15 point size, the width of this column is too large. Its impossible to have a proper 2 column design. images at the full column width end up too tall, requiring even more scrolling. Just my 2c

    1
  4. 454

    I think the standard resolution for computer displays is considered to be 72-74 pixels per inch. My MacBook Pro is 133 ppi. My iPhone’s “retina” display is over 300 ppi.

    If you set the text based in pixels, it will vary greatly. If you could set it based on points or even inches/centimeters and know that it would be rendered with the display ppi taken into consideration so that the physical size is consistent, you would be much better off.

    Not sure if that’s even possible with current implementations.

    Anyway, all this talk of setting type by the number of pixels is kind of silly since the size and shape of pixels vary so greatly. We need a system that renders relatively before we can go around prescribing pixel sizes. Until then, some assumptions must be made about the content not only being capable of being dynamically altered, but also that the users will have some idea how to do so.

    PS—I read this re-formatted by Instapaper on my iPhone because everything was in 2 point type. …which was readable as long as the phone was three inches from my face :p

    1
  5. 605

    Guilherme Almeida

    October 7, 2011 10:24 pm

    I believe there is a crucial flaw on this article. Seems like if you set font size on 16px all readbility issues will be solved. It is so untrue. There are so many other things to take into consideration about readability other than font size. As mentioned in the article, x-height matters. You can pick a font that at 16px high looks like 12px high, and another can be 14px high and look like 16px. Line height is another factor. This article’s subheading is so messy with the line height seemingly of less than 1.0 em, one line merging with each other, it makes harder to read, even if it has 36px. Line lenght too. According to The Elements of Typographic Style, a satisfactory line lenght is 45 to 75 characters wide. Yet it’s so common to find lines with more than 150 characters (see Slashdot). Contrast also matters, colors and font weight wise. It is much more complex than just setting a certain font size.

    1
  6. 756

    I would rather read smaller text with a larger line height than larger text with a tiny line height. As they say “It’s not the size that counts”. Yes body text on the web isn’t designed as well as it could be but there are technological restrictions. It’s up to the designer to choose a suitable font, colour and line height, AS WELL as size to make the text easy to read for their target demographic.
    Also I find it hard to believe a user would leave the site based purely on a couple of pixels in font height. I would like to see the study that produced the results of ‘Fact: Most Web Users Hate The “Normal” Font Size’.

    2
  7. 907

    I agree with you. I’m thinking about increasing the font size of my current work.

    I like Forbes new design with big text sizes.

    0
  8. 1058

    I think you are right…
    Just because we can fit 30 to 40 words to a line doesn’t mean we should.
    I do believe that we should consider the old print setting rules of font and line height etc. as well.
    I think I will push for bigger font sizes from clients

    -1
  9. 1209

    Excellent, well written article. 60 year olds only receive 20% of the light as 20 year olds – that a sobering thought. I’m 62, so in 20 years time I’ll be groping around like a deaf bat!

    Our web site (www.HospitalRegisters.com) is mainly viewed by 30 to 50 year old corporate clients, probably using smaller monitors than I design on, so you message about font sizes is very appropriate.

    0
  10. 1360

    After reading this article, I changed the base font size for my web development site at http://www.sacwebdev.com to 1em, and I’m quite pleased with the increased readability. Another tool in my arsenal to help my clients achieve their goals! Thanks Bnonn… this has been very, very helpful.

    0
  11. 1511

    Well written! One more proof that webdesign is more craft than arts.

    -1
    • 1662

      Not sure if trolling or just stupid. (Not seriously calling you stupid, just a meme)

      Web design is much more of an art than craft. One must understand the most basic principles of art such as line, shape, color, texture, and principles of design like balance, dominace, rhythm, etc.

      Web design requires skills that one can’t just pick up and start immediately. It takes time and an understanding of these principles in order to become a professional. My girlfriend does crafts; she knits, sews, and crochets. I design websites – still not a craft, and not necessarily art, but much more related to it than crafts are.

      0
  12. 1813

    I know there are already a billion comments here, but I feel I must add something myself.

    A design instructor of mine told me that 12pt was slightly too big for body text (in print of course), and that he prefers to use 10pt or 11pt. That matches up roughly to 14px or 15px which I find to be just the perfect size for readability aesthetics.

    Just my two cents.

    -1
  13. 1964

    I’m extremely annoyed at how much scrolling I needed to do to read this article…

    It may be easier when reading large amounts of copy once the user is interested in a story.. but could you image trying to navigate around a home page that needs to capture large amounts of content such as nhl.com, you’d be lost amidst all the large text.

    Only way I could see it work is giving users the option to make the text larger… at the same time, I don’t think it’s necessary as resolution options do exist on computers. People just need to set their resolution to what suits their needs.

    -1
  14. 2115

    Way cool! I’m totally pleased to find someone of my opinion about type size. I just finished 2 new websites with themes from Themeforest and moved the text pt size up to 16, for readability. I didn’t know the scientific reasons, just the aesthetic and perception that I “felt” were right. Thanks !

    -1
    • 2266

      Martin Silvertant

      October 9, 2011 6:48 pm

      Then do use the correct units. 16pt is too large. 16px is quite the max.

      It’s best to set the font size to 16px and base all text sizes on that value by using the em unit.

      0
  15. 2417

    For christ sake, use em… the world is mobile now.

    3
  16. 2568

    Mine is 16px;

    0
  17. 2719

    well done! i’m changing the size on my blog asap

    -1
  18. 2870

    Patricia Fieldwalker

    October 8, 2011 10:21 am

    Took far too long to read and I am well over your 40+ group…felt like I was back reading night night stories to my preschoolers…must be a happy medium and this errs on the side of “too much of a good thing”.

    1
  19. 3021

    Funny, I think this is the first article I’ve read in a good couple of months. And I mean read, not scan. I’m not sure if it’s the font or the topic that kept me going until the end, but one thing’s for sure: for the next couple of websites I will make 3 versions (like media queries) for text, allow users to switch between them (with some clear call to action buttons) and see which resolutions is used the most.

    I am also thinking about randomly selecting one of the three (small – 12, normal – 16, large – 20) and see which one users drop most and which one users tend to go to the most.

    -1
  20. 3172

    I have not read all the comments so maybe someone already pointed at this… I am experimenting with some flexible layouts and it occurred to me it is strange that you can make flexible images and boxes, but not flexible text sizes.
    Because it all depends on screen size of course. The 14px text right above this text box I am typing this is perfect readable on my home 20″ iMac. My eyes are 90 cm (35,4″) from the screen. And yes: I am ‘old’ (45), short-sighted and tired (at the moment).

    0
  21. 3323

    I find this very interesting. I did not read everything of this article but had a quick scan of it and looked at the pictures.

    As I am currently working on a slightly new version of my portfolio I just gave it a try and set the font size to 16. It was much easier to read and I will stick to it.

    I think basically this 12px stuff is fixed in the head such as brushing your teeth at the end of the day before you go to bed.

    So anyways, thanks for this is trying to open the minds a little bit here : ) Great work.

    0
  22. 3474

    As a few have mentioned before, a person with a 15″ 1920×XXX monitor is going to have a different experience than someone with a 21″ desktop monitor @ 1920 x XXXX.

    At the moment, I feel comfortable serving up an initial 13-14px san-serif for body text. 16px seems a bit too extreme at this time.

    On the other end of the spectrum, facebook needs a bump in font size. Style-wise, when compared to Google+, it feels small and cramped.

    0
  23. 3625

    Sorry, but this article doesn’t take into account PPI of displays – a variable which differs a fair bit from computer to computer. My 13″ Macbook Air is far denser than my 24″ Apple Cinema Display. 16px on my ACD looks big, 16px on my MBA looks quite small.

    So sorry, it’s all relative. Sure 16px is bigger than 12px on ALL displays, but saying 16px is the same size as printed text is pretty vague when a screen’s PPI can vary by upwards of 40 PPI or 30 – 40%.

    2
  24. 3776

    I’m over the age of 40, wear glasses to correct farsightedness and astigmatism. I feel that there are limits on both ends. I agree with some that the body copy of this sight is too large. Even at the 24 inch distance I sit there is too much back and forth with the eye’s. And, yes the footer copy is too small, I had to lean in to read.

    But, has anyone noticed the other font size on this page? The comment thread is actually very comfortable for me to read which seems to be the average font size I see on the web. It’s the one I like to design with…

    1
  25. 3927

    This was a good read, I think what it lacked was context though. The argument made at the start is that in order to support the business needs of your clients you HAVE TO INCREASE SIZE OF TEXT. It is too simplistic. It ignores user personas, focuses too heavily on age demographics and accessibility, and doesn’t speak to the fundamental value of scanning. The average business site on the web sells MULTIPLE PRODUCTS. If you’re writing a blog post maybe this makes sense, but if you’re arguing for improving SALES then how easily the page is read is less important than how easily it is scanned. Only a certain user persona will actually care to read detail, if you’re trying to generate revenue you need to appeal to the masses more often than not.

    This doesn’t invalidate this post, it’s definitely a good thing to consider and would certainly apply wholesale once in a while – but it falls short by making too bold a business statement upfront.

    5
  26. 4078

    In some cases I agree with this article, the studies were interesting, and the fact that you pointed out some of the top theme sites are still using very small fonts. I believe that 12px is way to small for a website, I also agree that 16px is a very nice size for font, in some ways.

    I feel that not every website should be set at 16px. It all depends on length of content, and placement of content, I do believe some more important factors for readability would be line-height, as having your lines too close together can easily get the reader lost.

    Letter spacing is great for fonts like Times, as pointed out in some comments there are a lot of accents in this font that are not needed.

    And font use, while having “normal sized” font for body is good and easy to read, an input box where the user is proofing what they are actually typing having a larger than normal font is a better solution.

    In conclusion this article did exactly what it was intended to do, while we don’t all agree with the 16px font theory, we are all re-thinking our design habits and I know next time I work on a website I will think more about font size and readability. Nice work!

    0
  27. 4229

    I don’t think I’d use Facebook, BBC, or CNN if they had 16px body font size.

    Interesting point of view. Thanks for the article.

    3
  28. 4380

    Some interesting facts in the article, however, saying a font is hard to read because it’s too small is a bit of a loose statement. Font family, color, line-height and width (anything over 500px wide is a strain) all contribute to the readability of text. So a pink font at 16px stretching the full width of the screen (let’s say 1400px) with default line-height might be easier to read if it were 13px, dark grey, 450px wide with 20px line-height.

    The article doesn’t target a specific type of site. Article sites or news sites rely on readability far more than startups. The article seems to suggest that you NEED copy to guide users. This statement is incorrect. You can guide users with whitespace, color, images, buttons, hover states etc.

    If you have a startup landing page with lots of copy on it, regardless of font-size…you’ve already failed.

    4
  29. 4531

    I like that you back your point with supporting facts. This is definitely worth consideration. Based on one’s primary target audience Font Size is always an area of much deliberation.

    -2
  30. 4682

    People don’t read anymore.

    They are facebook people.

    The world goes mobile.

    Chat & Status update.

    That’s all now.

    3
  31. 4833

    David van Ballegooijen

    October 9, 2011 1:03 am

    I can’t agree either.. I’ve experimented recently with bodytext fontsizes for our new upcoming website and 14px (arial) is the best choice for us. 15 or 16 px looked good on my 27″ iMac but even on our 24″ iMacs it’s already too big. On laptops it’s even worse and not acceptable imo. On tablets 16 px does read comfortable.

    0
  32. 4984

    Wow. Great Article. Congratulations. What I think is that sometimes the text *has* to be small. For example, when we’re making a very professional website, the text simply cannot be large. What do you think?

    -5
  33. 5135

    Two things stood out for me.

    1. All browers are 16 pixels by default.
    2. The printed copy compared to on screen.

    Thankfully font sizes have increased over the last few years and designers are no longer “scared” to use a larger and more readable font size.

    -5
  34. 5286

    It would make more sense to say 16 points than pixels. Points are absolute units of measurement-1/72 of an inch. Pixels are relative-16 pixels on an iPhone is much smaller than 16 pixels on a 50″ TV.

    -1
  35. 5437

    Chatsworth Marketing

    October 9, 2011 5:11 am

    id rather choose pixels

    1
  36. 5588

    I develop websites where the audience is predominately older that 40, and many are in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s… so I did an on the fly change to one of the sites up from 14 to 16px. I think I liked it and it might be very good for many of our readers.

    I think this 19px font is a bit large for me — and I am one who has to squint at the screen on far too many sites. I think I’ll give the 16px a shot.

    1
  37. 5739

    Martin Silvertant

    October 9, 2011 6:44 pm

    To me this article doesn’t make much sense. If anything it’s just a reminder to be careful not to use text sizes too small. The 19px used for the article is absolutely absurd, and the very fact that 19px is used while 16px is advocated is amusing. I feel a bit like I’m reading a children’s book.

    The 12px at the end looks quite alright. I tend not to use fonts with a low x-height at smaller than 12px for body text, but for small portions of text 10px could even be fine. I think it’s a good practice to generally stay within 12 to 14px. If you’re heaving trouble reading 14px then the issue is probably with the line length, leading and tracking or your font features a low x-height (such as Garamond).

    I’m not 100% certain about this, but I believe people used to use larger text on the web but now that the screen resolution and font rendering techniques have been improved fonts will render just fine at 12px.

    You compare 16px web text with 12pt print text, which I think is a fair comparison but 12pt is quite big for text in print. It’s good for your thesis but definitely not for a reading book. So, if you take the correct size for print, then it would equal slightly more than 14px in web.

    I honestly also haven’t met any contemporary people who don’t know how to zoom text. It’s being mentioned how to do it so often on the Internet. Besides, is zooming so bad? Then why is it one of the primary features of smartphones? I understand they can’t exactly be compared, but my point is that text size on the web is becoming a very relative value which you can control, anyway. Even if you don’t use em values for text, I think you can still zoom on the text in every modern browser.

    What do people with bad eyesight have to do with how big I render my text? Ever seen books with 14pt text for old people? They don’t exist because there’s no market for it because we have glasses and contact lenses.

    By the way, people can set the minimum font size in their browsers, so even for older people all this really shouldn’t be an issue. That is, if the text is formatted correctly taking the rules of typography and CSS into consideration.

    I’ve been told that type designers and typographers tend to use smaller text, which I think has something to do with being familiar with the textures of type. Nevertheless, people read more text online every day and they’re becoming very familiar with it—even with small type. In some regard it’s actually a very amusing idea that people used to write and read blackletters, and now supposedly we’re having trouble reading a 12px sans serif. I mean, this article is just funny.

    1
  38. 5890

    There are some really interesting points here, however I feel that in places this is a bit simplistic. Readability as opposed to simple legibility is a more complex construct.

    Good typography is not achieved simply by wanging all body copy to 16px. Other considerations include line lengths, leading (line-height), paragraph spacing and font choice.

    All in though, I think it is good to challenge the prevailing view that 11/12px is the ‘standard’ body copy size.

    0
  39. 6041

    Great read , really enjoyed it.

    I will certainly include this on websites I create in the future.

    -1
  40. 6192

    Interesting article, but I find Comic Sans just looks perfect regardless of the size :p

    -1
  41. 6343

    Lots of comments on this article. I wonder if anyone will read them?

    1
  42. 6645

    I’ve had my site on 16px for a while now, totally used to it. Definitely a good move!

    0
  43. 6796

    I’d argue for one that you shouldn’t be using pixels at all to set your text. Use points or Ems instead. I still often just use xx-small, x-small, small, medium, etc. Also, I find the size of the font you used to be fine, but I recall a general guideline (magazine layout I believe) that states your column width should be as many words wide as your font size. Font size is fine, but it feels too narrow. Using that guideline, the width of the article should accomodate, on average, 19 words. This seems to be about only 12 as is.

    0
  44. 6947

    This is a good article, it promotes awareness of the importance of choosing a good font-size with the users in mind.

    As a web developer the main thing to consider is who the main users of the website are going to be and cater for their needs.

    On blog websites I tend to adopt larger fonts, 14 – 16px as it makes content quicker to take in and is easier to read through. The size usually depends on the font used along with the contrast of the font against the background.

    It’s important to remember that content should be made easy to read. Font alone cannot provide this, which is why many companies are now seeking copy strategists.

    0
  45. 7098

    I think I missed the bit where it actually proved small text costs money.

    J.

    2
  46. 7249

    I think this is a compelling article and has certainly made me even more aware of font size than previsously. I have worked in a number of industry sectors from new born baby websites through to the older generation, I totally agree with tailoring the size to suite who your intended market it. However, having read the article I have now found it can suite all sites not just one sector in particular.

    Great read. Thanks for sharing.

    0
  47. 7400

    I really don’t think many people resize the text on their browsers when they are not able to read with a little bit of stress. But I do agree that if it was unreadable or if the user actually wanted to read a complete long article, they would do so.

    0
  48. 7551

    16px is fine for copy in small amounts.

    But this page? Butt ugly, and far too much scrolling required.

    Even filling in this feedback form is annoying; big ugly font – yuk! All modern browsers allow re-scaling of the screen with the Ctrl + and Ctrl – keys. Stick to a reasonable font size (12-14px) and ALLOW THE READER TO CHOOSE (after all, you want your readers to have a choice, don’t you?)

    The author seems to forget that minimalism doesn’t work for every scenario, especially e-commerce. It’s FAR more important to make sure that the content is relevant, well-written, and presented in a format that makes it easy to scan. This does not necessarily equate to using a ridiculously large font.

    1
  49. 7702

    I am very much over 40 and have all my browsers set permanently to zoom text. However, I think 16px is perhaps overdoing it. When I opened this article I had to go reset my Firefox because it was too big to read comfortably. The result (16 px) was tolerable but not all that comfortable – a lot of paging down involved, which upsets the flow of the argument. I think the comments are in a size that is pretty usable.
    Oh, and those drop caps with the drop shadow? AAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH…!

    1
  50. 7853

    Have I missed something and has everyone been having an awful time understanding and using websites with 12px text? Bigger type can be a bit helpful but does take up so much space on a page, that’s a real drawback.

    Worse though is using fonts such as Impact, in red with drop caps. It’s snubbed ascenders and descenders, with machine-aesthetic letterforms make it ugly and really hard to read. The colour simply amplifies the issue.

    This feels like an all to familiar case of an on-screen typographer not getting how and why type works.

    0

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