Grafik The Right Idea written on a brick wall

Why the big type, ol’ chap?

It’s not just for the focally-challenged anymore…

If you haven’t yet noticed, trends regarding type size on the web have been reversing in the last few years. We used to think bigger type looks juvenile + that smaller displayed better—for example, setting body copy to Arial 11px, or even using tiny bitmap/pixel fonts in Flash-based sites—especially because our browsers didn’t allow for much back in the day of tiny 640 x 480 screen resolutions. Not to mention, using smaller text to be able to establish hierarchy between headings, sub-headings, body copy, + disclaimer notes on top of keeping important content “above the fold”. Project after project we’ve tried to push smaller, “cleaner”, pleasing-to-the-grid type to our clients + yet have always been requested to go bigger for legibility’s sake.

If designed properly, using 14-16px type for main content doesn’t seem to look so “clown-sized” these days. The NYTimes.com has been using this on their articles for awhile now. It’s a trend that seems to be more the norm to help improve online readability, to cause less strain to the eye, + to help some of us avoid from having to use the key command shortcut ‘COMMAND/CTRL +’ times three to zoom into our browser content. It helps that the commonly used screen resolution is leaning more towards at least 950px of usable width to accommodate a type size closer to our browser’s default type size, which is set to 16px.

“Can we see it bigger than Verdana 11px?”

Check out the case study by Oliver Reichenstein mentioned within the blog article link below. The visual comparison really puts it into better perspective. Also, read the comments following the article for other points of view. Something worth thinking about when considering layout options for a new website project.

Really, the moral of the story is: Use big type for good, not evil.

Relative Readability

Why go so big on type? There’s a short answer and a long answer…

Animation of a woman
Katherine Slack

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