How big do you want it?

Posted Jan 24, 2004 in Blogging.

Everywhere I go, well almost everywhere, font sizes are smaller than mine. Some are a little smaller, some are a lot smaller. The main content text on this blog is set to 100% in the body, and then I leave it at that. Other text may be reduced to 0.8em from that 100% base, but it never really gets any smaller than that.

The size I chose is a reflection of my desire to make the site nice and accessible, but since I use relative font-sizes anyway, any user can resize the text in any leading browser. Most of my peers seem to prefer smaller text, so I am considering a change. Using Georgia, my text looks great until it starts to get into the smaller sizes:

  • This is 0.9em, and doesn't look very different really
  • This is 0.8em, and looks very fine
  • This is 0.7em, and it looks a bit small
  • This is 0.6em, and it's way too small
  • In Verdana it seems better though

Please leave comments - tell me what size you think the main content text of the si-blog should be.

Update: Users with real browsers will currently be able to access an alternate stylesheet that shrinks the font of everything blog entries by 10% (to 0.9em). Once a decision has been made, the alternate CSS will be removed, and comments on this entry will be closed.


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    Looking at the words, I like the default. For reading however, with the browser max at 1024, 1.5 feet from my eyes (using my laptop on my lap - who woulda' thought?) my eyes tell me 0.9em is the way to go.

    (P.S. congrats on the comments)

    Posted by Mike on Jan 24, 2004.

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    I have to agree with Mike. I think 0.9em is best in this particular site - due to the choice of font and font colour. You could always offer a style switcher for users to choose - then you could offer a fixed and flexibly layout as well - for users who have extremely wide or narrow devices.

    Posted by Russ Weakley on Jan 24, 2004.

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    So if I went for 0.9em, do you think I should decrease everything else (external links, footer, comments, etc.) by the same percentage?

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jan 24, 2004.

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    All personal opinion, but I'd probably leave the right column content and footer at the size they currently are. They look like they are 0.8em already?

    Of course by reducing your font size you will risk the wrath of all "leave font-size alone" purists! :)

    Posted by Russ Weakley on Jan 24, 2004.

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    I have changed the alternate stylesheet so that only the blog entries are reduced in size. Comments, external links and other bits and pieces remain the same. Check the alternate sheet and let me know what you think.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jan 24, 2004.

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    Personally I like the big font size on this webpage. I'm one of those people who has a slight visual impairment, and websites that has really small text size are frustrating, especially if I like the content of the site. I know how to adjust the font size in my browser, but I really shouldn't have to.

    One must ask, why have small text size in the first place? Even those who has perfect vision must have some trouble reading comfortably the sites with small font sizes. Is it a fad? Is it the coolness factor? If so, why is it cool? Websites been doing it as long as I've been on the internet (mid 90's) and it's getting rather old, just like Spud McKenzie.

    The only use I know for it is for those who still use the 800x600 resolution, but for those who use 1280x1024, there's no excuse for small text size, and the majority of surfers today have a standard resolution of 1024x768 or higher.

    I like the way you're doing it now Simon. Comfortable text size that isn't glaringly big, but just right, yet offering an alternative via a seperate style sheet for those who absolutely must have small text size. That's the way to go. One step further would be to implement a widget on the site that adjusts it via PHP or javascript for those who are cursed using IE.

    Posted by Matt Burris on Jan 25, 2004.

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    Thank you, Matt. I apologize for the mix up earlier - I may need to slightly restructure my comment system to make it more obvious what is happening.

    You make some excellent points. I have two PCs that I regularly use; a laptop running at 1024 by 768, and a PC running at 1280 by 1024. On both machines, the existing text size is just fine for me. However, I am beginning to lean toward taking it down 1 step on just the entry body so that it matches the text size everywhere else.

    I have considered leaving the situation as it is now. Users of Firebird can make a quick switch to smaller body text with the icon at the bottom of their browser window.

    Certainly more thought is needed - and more comments will be welcome from everyone.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jan 25, 2004.