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Web Type myths

Whenever there's a relatively new field, like the web, myths develop and spread to the point where many people mistake them for the truth

It's important not to be confused, so here are some myth-busters to help you know fact from fiction

1. Text is difficult to read on-screen.

There's a kernel of truth here, in that the low resolutions of screen can make them more difficult to read than paper. However text doesn't have to be hard to read on-screen. Most of the problems people have come from bad screen fonts. You can, of course, help your readers read your setting your text larger, and by pointing them to easy-to-read screen fonts, like Georgia (see the button at left).

2. People don't read text on-screen.

This is just absurd, plain and simple. Do you read text on-screen? Of course you do. You're reading this, aren't you? If you have interesting, useful information to read, people will read it. If you set the text large enough, keep your line lengths reasonable (don't let them run from one side of the screen to the other), and suggest good, free, screen fonts, reading on-screen

3. Users won't scroll, so all pages must be short!

This is actually one of my favorites, because it's like saying, "People won't turn pages, so everything has to be on the cover." It's just dumb. Tests have shown that people do scroll, they have no problem with it. All their other computer programs require them to scroll, they understand how it works, it doesn't confuse them on the web. In fact, people do complain when you have too many short pages instead of one long page.

Why?

There are several reasons. One--many people do print web pages for reading, or reference. It's annoying to have to print 12 short little pages when you could two complete ones. Two--when pages are too short they break the flow of concentration. It's fine to have a short page if your topic is actually short, but if you break up a single topic into too many pages, people can lose their train of thought.

The truth is that many sites have short pages because they have on-line advertising. The more pages you see, the more ads you see, the more money they make. If that's what you want to do, that's fine--but don't confuse this with readability or being considerate of your readers.

4. To get more attention to a piece of text, set it in color.

This is a real mistake on the web. Why? Because to most web viewers, text set in color means just one thing--link. Sites that set type in many different colors just confuse readers who then try clicking on things that aren't really links, which just frustrates them. It's OK to set headlines, which are obviously graphics, using colors. But don't set normal, non-graphic body text in color because it's not only confusing, it's harder to read.

The myths never end, so more will be debunked when they appear.

 

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