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I got a package-design job where I am a bit stuck in a problem, and this is it:

The company must (due to legal things) display an enormous amount of text on the design. The space I have for the placement has the dimensions of 10 cm × 15 cm and I’d like to even shrink it a bit to place more important other assets on it. We must use around 5200 chars on that space given. The text itself hasn’t got any priority to the “users”; it’s really a matter of legal issues why they need to display that amount of text on it. Therefore the text though must be still readable, but can have a tiny size as long as someone can read it with the package 10 cm apart of its nose.

The design of the previous designer uses a combination of:

  • Myriad Pro Condensed Regular in 6.36 pt font-size and 7.64 pt line-height, they even scaled the font to 111 % vertical manually
  • Myriad Pro Condensed Regular in 7.07 pt font-size and 8.48 pt line-height with 100 % vertical-scaling

I am not bound to a Corporate Font (not even to a category – if you know a well-suited Antiqua-typeset that can handle that nicely, I’ll go with it) or any font that is set by the laws of the country (like it is on cigarette packaging).

I remember Volkswagen once had a font designed that was still readable in 3 pt or 4 pt and it was originally created for that special task to be readable at that little size.

Now I am looking for a (condensed) typeface that is especially made for small sizes, e.g., by being made for tiny line-heights or having really enormous x-heights while still being well readable.

  • I modified your last paragraph a bit, because the requirements did not seem to fully match your intentions: Your prime goal is a font made for small sizes. If a font fulfills your other criteria but no this one (e.g., a decorative, well-readable font with large x-heights), it’s of no use to you. Please check whether everything is still according to your intentions. – Wrzlprmft Jul 14 '15 at 8:46
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How about Flama Ultra-Condensed:

enter image description here

I'd say it doesn't get anymore condensed than this.

http://www.felicianotypefoundry.com/cms/fonts/flama-ultra-condensed

Serif fonts would be more readable but would also need more space.

Dorica seems to be a serif font for small sizes:

enter image description here

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You may want to take a look at fonts designed for signage, where legibility is a prime issue and you often have space restrictions. The main difference between the situations is that you do not have to take conditions such as fog into account. However, similar issues may arise for readers with bad eyesight whom you have to consider but who are not allowed to steer a car.

You can find a list of signage typefaces here, which was compiled by somebody who did extensive research on the topic to develop his own signage typeface, Wayfinding Sans, which comes with a condensed variant.

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