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I'm designing a series of aides memoire for my colleagues to contain key details about our legal powers. I'm working on one version to be printed in business card format and another to be printed (either digital or offset) on plastic credit card-style cards. There's a fair bit of text to fit in, even once it's all trimmed down.

How can I work out the smallest font size I can get away with while maintaining readability, given that the printing method will probably differ from printing on paper?

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    Print a sample & give it to the guy with the worst eyesight. What's easily legible to one is not necessarily to another. – Tetsujin Apr 29 '18 at 19:39
  • I thought of trying that, but the inkjet and laser printers I have access to don't have the same resolution and finish as, for instance, an offset printer. But it's certainly a good option for checking the size itself. – Andrew Perry Apr 29 '18 at 19:41
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    I honestly think the difference in font size you'll need to make the difference between it being legible to an 18-year-old & a 60-year-old is not going to be determined by the dpi of your laser printer. – Tetsujin Apr 29 '18 at 19:43
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    @Tetsujin That's an answer I'd upvote. Please avoid answering questions in comments. Thanks! – Vincent Apr 30 '18 at 14:26
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    Possible duplicate of Smallest font size for small print? – Ovaryraptor Apr 30 '18 at 15:05
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Text legibility affects its readability.

Rather than suggest point sizes alone, look at those factors that affect ease of reading.

  • case: upper & lower case mix is more readable than all caps
  • x-height: larger is more readable than smaller
  • leading: more is more readable than solid
  • line length: shorter (10-12 words) are more easily readable than longer
  • weight: medium is more readable than light or bold
  • measure: normal is more readable than condensed or expanded
  • margins: moderate is more readable than tight
  • contrast: black (dark) on yellow (light) background is more readable than others
  • substrate: smooth backgrounds are more readable than textured ones
  • stroke: many agree that serifs are more readable than sans serifs

Some typefaces were developed for ease of reading at small sizes and at great distances (small resolving angles). Most notable is miniml (for its minimal size), Lucida (for its overall legibility under poor conditions), and Egyptian faces in general (developed for signage for great distances). Prefer condensed typefaces to horizontal scaling which affects the vertical strokes disproportionately. For optimal results, you'll have to "play" with the typography of the copy.

Lastly,

  • user: younger eyes are better at resolving detail
  • One more thing™ Don't forget that card stock can be folded to maintain small format footprint yet increase available real-estate for copy readability's sake. – Stan Jun 1 '18 at 20:03
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I have used 6 or even 4pt... and that looks awesome, it depends what fonts your'e using..

You can simply apply font sizes−

  • 8pt = Your name
  • 6pt = your name
  • 5pt = your name
  • 4pt = your name

−on a visiting card drawn in any drawing software, and takeout it's print.. if you can read it... it's fine!

It doesn't matter how offset printing method works, or inkjet.. if you will take out prints from any art app (Illustrator, Affinity Designer, InDesign etc.), you will get same print scale.. there are methods of printing in exact scales when you perform PRINT.

  • "There are methods of printing in exact scales when you perform PRINT" - what are those methods? – Hashim Aug 3 at 0:33
  • actually there are methods for those who are experienced (how much size will be visible, usually 8pt is the last size which is easy to read and 6pt is for terms and condition., you can write terms and condisitons even 3pt if you want to hide something.;P. other than that. On visiting cards 6~8pts for phone numbers etc, and for news papers, magazines and brouchers, to stay in the blocks font are scalled up or down in pnts. 7pt, 8pts or sometimes 7.5pts. upto 10pnt. – MFarooqi Aug 3 at 6:05
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I'd say as a rule never go lower than 6pt but obviously it depends on your font and the type! Uppercase stands out more so you might get away with smaller font if it's all in uppercase.

I think your best approach will be to print out examples at 100% and see which is the most legible.

protected by Community Nov 29 '18 at 7:52

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