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11:8 Use at Least 12-Point Font

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11:8 Use at Least 12-Point Font

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Text and Styles


Use at least a 12-point font (e.g., typeface) on all Web pages.


Research has shown that fonts smaller than 12 points elicit slower reading performance from users. For users over age 65, it may be better to use at least fourteen-point fonts. Never use less than nine-point font on a Web site.

Traditional paper-based font sizes do not translate well to Web site design. For instance, Windows Web browsers display type two to three points larger than the same font displayed on a Macintosh. User-defined browser settings may enlarge or shrink designer-defined font sizes. Defining text size using pixels will result in differently-sized characters depending upon the physical size of the monitors pixels and its set resolution, and presents accessibility issues to those individuals who must specify large font settings.


  • Bailey, R.W. (2001). Reading from small point sizes. User Interface Update-2001.
  • Bernard, M. & Mills, M. (2000). So, what size and type of font should I use on my Web site? Usability News, 2.2. Retrieved November 2005, from
  • Bernard, M., Liao, C., & Mills, M. (2001a). Determining the best online font for older adults. Usability News, 3.1. Retrieved November 2005, from
  • Bernard, M., Liao, C.H., & Mills, M. (2001b). The effects of font type and size on the legibility and reading time of online text by older adults. Proceedings of CHI 2002, 175-176. Retrieved November 2005, from
  • Bernard, M., Lida, B., Riley, S., Hackler, T., & Janzen, K. (2002). A comparison of popular online fonts: Which size and type is best? Usability News, 4.1. Retrieved November 2005, from
  • Ellis, R.D. & Kurniawan, S.H. (2000). Increasing the usability of online information for older users: A case study of participatory design. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 12(2), 263-276.
  • Galitz, W.O. (2002). The Essential Guide to User Interface Design. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Ivory, M.Y. & Hearst, M.A. (2002). Statistical profiles of highly-rated web site interfaces. Proceedings of CHI 2002, 367-374.
  • Tinker, M.A. (1963). Legibility of print. Ames: Iowa State University Press.
  • Tullis, T.S. (2001). Web usability lessons learned. Fidelity Center for Applied Technology Technical Report. Fidelity Investments.
  • Tullis, T.S., Boynton, J.L., & Hersh, H. (1995). Readability of fonts in the windows environment. Proceedings of CHI’95, 127-128.

Good Example:

Examples of cross-platform text-size differences generated on a variety of browsers and platforms by using HTML text in a one-cell table with a width of 100 pixels.


Related Usability Guidelines: