Category: General

What’s the best size for fonts in email, web & TV?

Just because it looks great and is readable on YOUR screen, doesn’t mean that’s the case for your viewers. I like to stick with 14-16 point text for emails and web, and about 28-32 for PowerPoint/Keynote presentations being viewed on large-screen HDTVs. Anything smaller and you run the risk of your carefully crafted text being unreadable. There are exceptions, of course—but I almost always stick with those sizes.

font sizes for the web

Font sizes for the web: It’s all about the x-height


There’s actually a science behind the best font size for the web. There’s a lot of geeky gibberish in the article (which I personally found interesting), so if you don’t care about all that just scroll down to the bottom of the article and you’ll find a chart of recommended sizes for desktop, laptop, phone and TV viewing.

When to use a hyphen, En dash and Em dash

Hyphens & dashes
Hyphens, en and em dashes appear with great frequency in typeset copy. Unlike the days of typewriters where the only character available to represent these three punctuation marks was a hyphen, all three are available in almost all of today’s fonts. They all have different usages, most of which are a mystery to us designer types. Extensis Blogger, Ilene Strizver, has a great article that explains what Hyphens, En and Em Dashes are and when you should use them.

We all know the Hyphen is made by simply hitting the dash key in the number row on your keyboard. An En Dash is made by hitting Option + dash key. The Em Dash is made via Shift + Option + dash key.

Free font utopia

Free font license
There are plenty of sites to find free fonts. The problem with most of them is that the so-called “free” fonts aren’t actually free to use for anything beyond the little flyer you made for your kid’s little-league team.

If you look at the license for many of these free fonts you’ll find that they’re only free for personal use, not commercial use—which is what most designers are looking to use them for. I’m not saying that paying for fonts when you need to use them for commercial work is bad, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or budget for them.

If you’re willing to spend a lot of time scrolling through long lists of fonts to find the very few that you can actually use, have at it. But if you value your time, try checking Font Squirrel.
Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel has a ton of fonts. All of them free. All of them free for commercial-use. There are tons of fonts available at Font Squirrel, so they’ve categorized them to make it easier to browse. Because the laws of the universe dictate that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you can use the fonts for free in your print projects and web graphics, but you’ll have to read the license for each font to see if you can use the font for things like embedding in a website.

It’s a designer’s job to ask good questions

This is some fantastic advice for designers of all disciplines, but particularly web designers. Ask good questions. The right questions. This is the foundation of a good creative brief.

My personal favorite is to simply ask “what is the goal?” The article even illustrates it almost exactly how I typically phrase it.

What's the goal

Janice Gervais at A List Apart covers that question and more, and ends the article with a bit of design truth: “Your work reflects your level of understanding.”