Big type

What is it with websites over the past year or two and the obsession with posting articles in gigantic type? You’re on the internet, not printed on a billboard. Embrace your media.

That entire article is in the same size font as Boing Boing uses for headlines.


I’ve noticed the same thing, and find it really irritating…and I have some pretty bad eyes. I think the big-font trend is an ugly stepchild of both the use of responsive design and the rise of high-rez (i.e. Retina) screens.

Anyway…It really should be pointed out that the Jetsons’ Skypad Apartments didn’t float in the sky. They sat on crazy-tall, crazy-slender pillars (which would be eaten to dust within days on the surface of Venus.)

I think the medium site is designed to display nicely on all sorts of devices well and who really wants to strain their eyes reading something on the screen.

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I actually enjoy larger type even though I have perfect vision. To me, tiny type is a relic of an age when everything needed to be printed on a finite resource, paper. Today, there’s no reason why an article should use small type - no paper is wasted, larger type doesn’t take the page any longer to load, and the larger characters are easier to read. This slight reduction in mental tax makes reading a slightly more enjoyable experience. At least for me.


Well said sir

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this totally. I also have perfect vision and I read everything zoomed way in. most webpages have the text centered with an equal amount of blank space halved to either side (I guess this is optimized for tablets and phones that I don’t have,) or the text is to one side with a column of ads that I don’t want to see anyhow. cmd+ gets rid of all the distractions and dead space, and it makes the type bigger and easier to scan.

I prefer larger type, but I also prefer type to scale to my device a bit. Small device? Larger font for better reading. Large device? Smaller font for better reading.

Nothing pisses me off more than reading


on my full-size iPad…

I like smaller type to add context, within the restrictions of my aging visual acuity. Zooming in too close on these weirdly wide screens means more scrolling than I like. Being a 20th-century-born fella, I’m used to paper-print type sizes. When I read books on my Kindle app on my RAZR M, I use the default font size. There are six larger and six smaller, but the middle one feels right to me… and I’m already turning pages more often than I’d like on that wee screen.

Turning pages and scrolling a lot are, to me, annoyances on par with squinting.

The intent of HTML was that it would be semantic markup, which the browser could render in whatever way made sense for that reader. That would let it adapt to varying screen sizes, and indeed to voice synth and braille displays and other radically different ways of presenting the context.

Instead, people insisted on using it as a visual markup tool.

CSS, and XHTML with XSLT, were attempts to escape that trap and bring the web back to separate semantic content and presentation style, on a mix-and-match basis. That, too, has largely failed.

So… Yes, you’re absolutely right. The page author shouldn’t be setting the font size; that should be under your control. But every time we push in that direction, the folks who insist that they want visitors to see THEIR design push back.

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