[thelist] Font Sizes

Austin Govella austin at desiremedia.com
Thu Oct 3 15:56:01 CDT 2002

> For years, I've always used 12px (or, back in the day, <font size="2">) as
> a default font size for body text.  But lately I see more and more
> designers wanting to use 10px for body text.  Am I really out of line to
> think that 10px or so is too small for a default font size?  It seems to
> be
> very hard to read, even for me (although, admittedly, I do have poor
> eyesight).  What does everyone else use for a default?

I've been using 12px for main body text, and 10px for things like local
nav, bread crumb trails, footers, related links, etc.

Recently, however, I've noticed a lot of 10px text looks smaller than it
used to on Macs. Damn near unreadable. When I hit a website using 10px
text for the body copy, I resize it larger so I can read it. I probably
won't resize the 10px text on all the sites I maintain, but new sites I'm
designing will have the small text at some size larger than 10px.

I'm hoping 11px will be ok, but I haven't really tested.

So, to answer your question, screw what other designers are doing. Dow hat
you like for personal projects, and do what gets the job done *right* for
work projects.

The size a font is displayed in will always be a consideration *secondary*
  to whether or not the text is readable. Readability is the most important

On Macs using Netscape, 10px is difficult to read on a generic install. So,
  no. 10px should no longer be a viable design option for websites where
the copy needs to be read. (Imagine text needing to be read. How odd.)

Secondly, Syed mentions he likes Times at 12pt and sans-serif faces at
10pts. I never use pts (preferring px), but I personally *detest* serifed
fonts used for body copy. Not only do I personally dislike the way it
looks, I think it's harder to read, so I never use serifed fonts for body
copy on websites. I also love Verdana at 12px. Use it all the time. This
isn't to say that Syed is somehow wrong. He's not. I'm just pointing out
it's all a matter of taste and design philosophy.

Daniel's right about relative sizing (using ems or percents) is better
than absolute sizes (using pxs or pts), but I think there's still a few
browser bugs, leaving pixels the best way to size text for cross-browser

Of course, this assumes that article from A List Apart:


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