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June 3, 2011 / marden928

The battle of the fonts

As someone who freelances in a variety of industries, I’ve noticed a huge disparity between advertising and more corporate settings when it comes to font size.  In advertising the most common comment I’ve gotten is “Don’t let it feel horsey”  and in management consulting I get “Can I get more on the page?”  or “Make it bigger, no bigger, bigger still.  My client is far-sighted.”

So, pray-tell, what is the right answer?

Some would argue no text at all.  That’s fine if you’re Steve Jobs or you have a lot of time to hunt for images or even better still, you have a photographer on hand.  Most presentations don’t have that kind of time.  Most of us, when designing a presentation, are happy if the words are spelled correctly.

To find that happy medium, I’ve got a couple of quick guidelines that I think both ends of the spectrum will be happy with:

  • If you need to go smaller, use a sans serif font
  • Only use a serif font if you’re going to be able to enlarge your font to a huge size – even better if it’s for only 1-2 sentences on a page.  (no more!  perhaps not even images!)
  • Shorten your text to the smallest amount of text possible – esp if you’ll be speaking to it.  Then enlarge your font as large as you can, keeping white space around your font.  If it feels cartoony, drop it 2, 4, 6 pts until it feels right.

Some quicky quidelines for a 4×3 presentation, for on-screen large group, by font type:

Arial:  24 min, 44 max

Tahoma:  24 min, 40 max

Calibri:  26 min, 50 max

Times New Roman:  44 min, 60 max

Verdana:  30 min, 54 max

Franklin Gothic:  36 min, 54 max

Cambria:  40 min, 60 max

Obviously, all of this should be adjusted according to your actual audience, your actual content and your desired emotional & intellectual impacts.



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