[thelist] Re: Text/Background Readability

Tim Luoma luomat at peak.org
Wed Jul 3 11:52:01 CDT 2002

Joel Konkle-Parker wrote:

>The question has arisen about changing the colors of my article pages
>(http://www.ballsome.com/test/games/hardware/articles/20011107-1.xml) from black
>text on a white background to white text on a black background. What
>implications does this have on readability and such? Would these potential
>consequences be worth it if it meant a more cohesive overall design? Any thoughts?

Black text on a white background is the easiest to read, by far.

White text on a black background is hard on the eyes... you'd have to
increase the font size and font weight at the very least, and probably
the line-height just to be safe.... of course line-height has a rash of
implementation problems (recently discussed on css-d with Big John
working on a page to illustrate the problems).

On older browsers you'd have to worry about it not printing out well at
all, as very few will print a background color, and even if they did --
who wants to print out a black page with white text?  I can see
thousands of Inkjet owners feeling the bleed....

I wouldn't use white-on-black for anything that was meant to be read for
very long.  One of the nice things about the maturation of the web is
fewer people using the all black background... and for those that still
hold onto it.... well there's always Opera's user-style-override ;-)

It sounds like a job for stylesheets ;-)

Here's what I'd do:

Keep the site as it is
Offer an 'alternate' style sheet with white-on-black
Let people who want to change the UI change it
Those who are using older browsers will get the black-on-white, which
will also print more reliably on them as well.


More information about the thelist mailing list