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Readable Text Size: How Big is Big Enough?

By on May 16, 2012 — Updated on February 8, 2016

You might have heard from your creative director that the size of the words or texts in your marketing material, whether it’s a signage outside your store or a shelf-talker inside your store, should be big enough for the consumers to read even from a distant point, but you don’t know how big he or she is referring.

Depending on the distance of the reader from your material, that ‘big enough’ varies. That size of a text that is big enough for a reader that is 2 meters away is not big enough anymore for a reader that is 10 meters away.

So how big is that big enough?

Generally, the rule is to proportionally increase the size of the text with one-fourth (¼) inch high in every eight (8) feet target distance of your material from the reader. Meaning, if you are planning to put your poster above a gondola and you want its content to be readable from 16 feet away, the smallest text should be at least ½ inch high

Did you get it? The size of a readable text is  ¼ in. is to 8 ft. ( ¼ ” : 8’) or 1 inch with every 32 feet. Take note that it is the minimum height for a normal-sighted person.

The same calculation is what do teachers use when making visual aids to make sure that the students seated at the last row can still read what is being presented by the teacher in the front.


Relationship Between Text Size and Car Speed

Supposed a new customer is looking for your store and he or she is driving at the speed of 40 mph (miles per hour).

He or she must see and read the signage outside your store at least 164 feet away in able for the car to stop at the nearest point in your area, because base on the Vehicle Stopping Distance Calculator, the total stopping distance of a vehicle that is moving 40 mph  is 164 feet or about 50 meters.

The minimum height of a text, using Times New Roman or Arial font styles, from that distance should be five (5) inches, but the bigger, the better. The best example of readable texts are those traffic signs, simple and legible.

More Tips on Text Readability

In addition, avoid using cursive and other fancy font styles for long sentences and smaller text sizes because these cases lessen the readability of your materials.

You can use them to add beauty to your design but make sure that they will not defeat the purpose of your material – to give the consumers the important information and direction about your product and your business.

Don’t forget, minimum of ¼ ” high with every 8’ away, but the bigger, the better.

It is very important to be remembered always by graphic designer to assure readability.

Thank you for reading. Godspeed!

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  1. tatess

    June 18, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I thought that signage can be done according to your preference. Well, I am not a designer, creative director so it is understandable that I know nothign about this, but as a reader,know my knowledge is growing through a lot of reading.
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  2. carmel

    June 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Some teachers and lecturers don’t know about this rule I guess… because they write the tiniest characters in the blackboard; these can’t be read by those at the back rows. This is why I usually sit in front. :-)
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  3. RonLeyba

    June 26, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Wow, I didn’t know that there is some sort of calculation for that. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
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  4. Angelita

    August 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Very helpful… there are times that text being used in the store are too small to be read.

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