Default font size in gnome

Felix Miata mrmazda at
Fri Feb 27 07:17:49 UTC 2009

On 2009/02/26 22:04 (GMT-0600) Ryan Hayle composed:

> On 26/02/09 20:43, Felix Miata wrote:

>> I think your majority is a majority of young people. We're not talking
>> extremely here. Scientific studies (hard to find, but they're out there) have
>> shown that most people (not a group skewed to the younger than average, with
>> their better average vision) prefer 12pt, and recommend 10pt as a minimum.
>> Funny how 12pt (which on Windows by default is usually 16px, on Mac always
>> 16px) is by far the most common default web browser default font size.

> Did this study take DPI into account though? 

I don't think it matters whether they did or not. I think only two realistic
possibilities exist:

1-full competence: nominal sizes referred to directly equated to real sizes
2-negligence: nominal sizes referred to did not directly equate to real sizes

If the latter case, the expected result would be that they used common
configurations of the period, which means lower DPI than typical now, and
thus real sizes larger than nominal sizes. Either way, the reported sizes
would not have been smaller than the preferred sizes. Either the preferences
were accurately described, or the participants actually preferred larger
fonts than reported.

> I agree that most people
> (myself included, until recently) think of 10pt as a minimum, but only 
> because it looks so small on Windows.  It seems really odd for me to be 
> setting 7.5pt fonts in Ubuntu (my current default at 147 DPI), as 
> intuitively I think this should be unreadable, yet it's not at all.  I 

That probably has to do with distance. 7.5pt at .5m distance (laptop) is
quite a different thing from 7.5pt at twice that distance (desktop).

> think it will take a while to change people's perceptions about this 
> because of the damage MS has caused.  No one knows what point sizes mean 
> anymore.

Some think that sizes on a puter display are only supposed to be logical, not
real, and thus that any given size may or may not be that size is irrelevant.
True resolution independence would moot that opinion.

> Doesn't  Firefox default to a 16pt default proportional font size?  This 
> seems really huge to me, no doubt a result of all those Windows web 
> designers who think everyone's on 96 dpi.  People using pixel-size fonts 
> on the web are the worst for us high-DPI users!

Firefox defaults to 16px, not 16pt -> huge difference. Furthermore, because
it's 16px, it does not scale with DPI. High DPI users need to make a direct
adjustment via Firefox prefs to keep Firefox fonts in line with other apps
when actual DPI varies more than a little from 96.

Firefox uses 16px because that's the size of 12pt @ 96 DPI used by Windows by
default. It uses px in part because px at higher than 72 DPI is a finer
grained adjustment than pt, particularly as DPI gets really high.

>> True. In making the decision, it needs to be kept in mind the difference in
>> comparative impact, and the side effects. Fedora, openSUSE&  Mandriva I also
>> use, and they all have long and still default to 10pt as the primary desktop
>> and menu font size. If *buntu uses 9, you induce older users gravitate to the
>> others, and/or induce those older users who try *buntu say it's too hard to use.

>> "Big" is good:

> That's a fair point.  I would hope that there would continue to be 
> consensus across distributions for the default.  I am assuming those 
> dists were defaulting to 10pt 96dpi as well, though I could be wrong.

I made more than one point. Did you mean all fair points? :-)

Mandriva's last release (2009.0) switched back to hard coding 96 from no hard
coding previously. I don't remember whether Fedora has hard coded lately. I
use it very little. I install openSUSE a lot, and am not sure, but I don't
think it has ever hard coded DPI since I first used SUSE @ v8.1.
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your
mouths, but only what is helpful for building
others up."			Ephesians 4:29 NIV

 Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409

Felix Miata  ***

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