Glynn Clements glynn at
Thu Apr 9 12:16:21 PDT 2009

Jim Gettys wrote:

> Note, however, that our concept of "size" of fonts is fundamentally
> broken: the physical size in pixels of some physical size is *very*
> seldom what you actually want; what you really want is the size of a
> font in terms of angle: the physical size at some distance.

As well as a minimum physical size based upon viewing distance and
eyesight, you also need a minimum number of pixels, regardless of the
size (subtended angle) of those pixels. Satisfying the former
constraint doesn't automatically mean that you will satisfy the

Also, it's not as if either "minimum" is an absolute. There's a
difference between being able to read something and being able to read
it comfortably. Between the two, other factors may come into play. If
I'm reading text formatted to e.g. 80 columns, and the "comfortable"
size only gives me 70 columns, a slightly smaller font would almost
certainly be preferable.

An obsession with physical size makes no more sense than an obsession
with pixel sizes. Actually, it makes less sense. At least the
historical fixation on pixel sizes had a rational basis: rescaled
bitmaps look so bad that they're almost never useful.

Glynn Clements <glynn at>

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