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Archived Message:

Readability vs screen resolution ?!

jaxz Dear all!
In my design work Iíve now come to the point of realizing that the readers choice of screen resolution in combination with actual monitor size is very important when it comes to readability.

How do you gurus deal with that?

My current design approach has been as follows:

* To use a 2-column design with fixed-width for the bulk text and NAV area. NAV area stays fixed in the left column when scrolling down the bulk text.

* Total width Iíve set to 790px Ė at 800px the scrollbar appears outside the monitor areaÖ
Iíve chosen <800 to accommodate older systems.

* Iíve selected a sans-serif font for bread text (Verdana) at a size to yield about 60 characters per line, for the NAV Iíve chosen Georgia which gives a somewhat tighter text.

However, I do realize that for somebody with a large screen set at a high resolution, the readability will suffer.

What are your solutions to address this issue?

Is this where the ďsizeĒ button in AEC comes into play? But will that not completely mess up the layout of the page? Or can that be taken care of in some smart manner?

I donít know what most people use for reading on-screen text, nor what monitor sizes are most representative. But I do feel that the old 800*600 on 14-15 inch monitors is becoming rare.

Might it be necessary to suggest readers to adjust their settings depending on monitor size?

Any and all suggestions highly appreciated!


Posted on: 6:56 pm on March 23, 2006
Storyman Jaxz,

In the body tag I set the font size to medium, then use a percentage to adjust the following ID and Class sizes. That way when a user readjust the font size all the text remains in the same relation as before.

Are you using position: fixed for the nav or are you using javascript? I'm guessing you already know that fixed CSS doesn't work in all browsers, but just to be sure.

The screen width I use is 780 or less. I've observed that on large monitors anything more will create a scroll bar at the bottom. I hate to lose the screen real estate to a scrollbar.

I agree that sans-serif is better to use for reading from the screen. You might want to consider serif for print outs. Studies show that serif is easier to read in print, sans-serif on the screen.

One thing I would never do is have someone change their screen size. When I find a site that requires a reconfiguration for the screen I'm not interested--too much trouble and don't expect me to take my time fixing your mistakes.

One thing that I do is adjust line height. I feel that a little extra space between lines of text helps the eye track better. This might sound a bit strange, but I've observed that some people have a harder time reading/tracking when the material is vertically before them versus material that is at an angle. This is another reason for increasing line height.

Posted on: 9:44 pm on March 23, 2006

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