By Alan Graner
I was recently some reading blogs to gather information and was shocked to discover how many of them have really small type.
As my seven loyal readers know, I have a simple philosophy when it comes to writing: never give readers an excuse to stop reading.
Now, if you’re one of those young New Media Dudes with strong eyes, font size doesn’t mean a whole lot. You can probably read the bottom line on the DMV eye chart.
Unfortunately, as one ages and becomes an Old Fart Dude, eyesight tends to degenerate. And so, when we encounter a blog, website, online article or even an eReader with really small type, we tend not to read it. (Sure, you can enlarge type on your computer, but it’s a hassle. It’s much easier to go to the next blog.)
The message you’re sending isn’t the one we’re receiving
You may think your message is “buy our product” or “try our service” or “listen to my wisdom,” but the message we’re receiving is “we’re not interested in anybody over the age of 40 with diminished eyesight.”
As a person well over 40, I’m sensitive to such slights. It’s bad enough TV, radio and publications don’t care about me because I don’t fit their demographics.
But social media is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to be about “engagement.” About “joining the conversation.”
Well here’s the 411, Skippy: we can’t join the conversation if the type is too frickin’ small to read.
Unless, of course, you’re not the least bit interested in readers over 40, in which case your strategy is sly indeed.
But don’t listen to me. Let’s hear it from the Professor Dudes.
The Professor Dudes speak
Wichita State University
In a study entitled The Effects of Font Type and Size on the Legibility and Reading Time of Online Text by Older Adults, researchers at the Software Usability Research Lab concluded:
In light of test results, “it is recommended to use 14-point sized fonts for presenting online text to older readers.”
William E. DeLamateur, M.Ed., wrote in How Larger Font Size Impacts Reading and the Implications for Educational Use of Digital Text Readers:
“It appears well supported…that increasing font size for all readers correlates
positively with improved reading rates.”
Jacci Howard Bear makes the following recommendations for matching type size for readers:
- Use larger font sizes (14-18 point) for older readers (65+)
- Use 11 or 12 point font sizes for readers 40-65.
The mysterious “x-height”
As any good designer will tell you, a font’s apparent size depends on its x-height (the size of its letter x). For example, sans serif fonts are usually larger than serif fonts. Compare Arial 12-point type with Times New Roman 12-point type and see for yourself.
Be aware too that font sizes can differ from browser to browser.
Are you using the correct font and type size?
If you truly believe content is king, make sure your content is readable by the widest audience possible.
Test your font sizes before you publish your blog, website, article, ezine or other web content. Then view them in different browsers.
Never assume your content is easy to read until you test it.
What are your thoughts?
Image: Tony Clough
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations. He is a small font of knowledge. Email him at email@example.com.