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Monday, June 16, 2008

Small Font Sizes: Good or Evil?

I have a problem with small font sizes in printed books. I probably am not the only one too. For me, small font sizes pose a big of a dilemma. You see, when I read, I like to feel like I have accomplished a good chunk of reading after an hour. But when the print is so tiny, I don't get that satisfaction. Instead, and hour means I've read twenty pages (give or take five page). And it doesn't feel good at all. I also read slower when a book has a small font size, because my eyesight isn't the greatest in the first place and because it's a lot harder to get into the flow when the words are itty bitty.
Now, I fully understand the reason for small font sizes, or I think I do. A good chunk of monstrous novels (those beasts crossing the 800 page mark) have small font sizes and it makes a lot of sense. Imagine if those 800 page books used a typical size (10 point perhaps?). They'd probably be too big for a paperback now wouldn't they? I imagine it saves paper and money for the publisher too, even in the case of books that aren't enormous. So, maybe I should ask writers to stop writing big books. No, I couldn't do that. As much as I don't like small font sizes, I do enjoy the books that use them. I can't help that a lot of the classic science fiction titles have small font sizes, but are also terrific reads. I also can't help it that people write enormous fantasy novels that I enjoy that have small font sizes.
I guess this all means I just have to deal with it, or buy a Kindle to solve the problem. Somehow I think "dealing with it" will be the order of the day.
Does anyone else have an issue with small font sizes?

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  1. I don't mind small font sizes. In fact, it makes me happy, because I tell myself, "No one else in your grade is reading 800-page books with this font size! You're awesome! Hooray!" And then when I've only finished 20 pages in an hour, I say, "Wow, this book must have awesome vocabulary or something. No one else in your grade reads 800-page books with this font size and this vocabulary!"

    And yes, it's also economic, publishable, and environmental, so that's a plus.

    I like small fonts on the Internet too, but perhaps not as much anymore, because I'm on forums that appreciate the regular 10pt.

  2. I hate reading from certain anthologies (namely, any of the Norton anthologies)designed for use in Lit classrooms because of the gigantic page sizes and minuscule font sizes and paper actually thinner than cheap Bible paper. It can be discouraging after spending like an hour reading and trying to make sense of a five page essay written in academia's thick nonsense language. Occasionally, when we're assigned to read novel, I'll spend the $5.00 and buy an easier to read copy.

  3. Oh, I completely agree. I love those anthologies (Norton's), but they really need to consider that people don't like a 2,000 page book with Bible pages and itty bitty font.