30 Sep Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny
I recently bought a mini-magnifying glass to carry with me. Even after laser eye surgery, prescription eyeglasses, cheater specs, and overdeveloped squint muscles, I still can’t read much of text I encounter every day. And there’s a lot of it. Price tags, labels, expiration dates, directions, coupons, recipes, menus, invoices, statements, cards, ads, etc. You get the picture. I’m lucky I haven’t overdosed on cough medicine or styled my hair with Pam cooking spray.
TEENY WEENY print is everywhere.
Even magazines (which I hear are designed to be read) are using smaller text as well as unfortunate color combinations (such as yellow words on a white background, or blue text on black). I have a few receipts on my desk. Pink text on a white background.
Are there any publishers, marketers, or advertisers out there over the age of 30? If so, please inform your younger colleagues that half of the U.S. population is over the age of 65. Millions of middle-aged folks are also furrowing their brows in frustration. (No wonder Botox is so popular…)
If you want your information and ideas to be seen and understood, please make sure any printed words are actually LEGIBLE for your audience.
For basic reading/handouts with significant text, 11 point type works well. Size 9 or 10 is often great for brochures. 12 point may be used when you purposely want large text or have an older audience (ahem). Headers should be at least 2 standard steps larger than the text below them (e.g. use a 14 point header when it’s followed by 10 point text, 12 point header for 9 point text, etc.). 8 point type is the smallest text size you should use, and only use for fine-print or less significant references. For a standard whitepaper, you could use 18 point for the title, 14 point headers, 11 point body text, 9 point call-outs, and 8 point footers.
On PowerPoint slides, anything smaller than 14 point will be difficult to read (and often signals too much content on a single slide). In presentations, aim for 32-36 point text in slide titles, 28-30 in headers, and 18-24 body text. Call-outs or charts should use 14-16 (bigger is better if you have less text on the page). For example, a good combo would be slide title 36, header 28, and body text 24 with sub-bullets at 20. In general, your most important info should be short and a larger size, followed by more detail in a smaller size, and reference stuff no smaller than 8.
These are just guidelines…many other combinations work just as well. Proportion matters (e.g. 10-14-18 rather than 9-10-11), and all of it depends on typeface legibility.
My eyeballs thank you in advance.