I was reading an advertizing code which specifies:

""For TV Advertisements the size of the “Supers” shall be of minimum 12 pixel height....."

This got me thinking: If readability / legibility is the goal, does it make sense to specify a pixel size? i.e. Won't the same font display as varying numbers of pixels depending on what kind of TV it is shown on?

If ensuring readability was the concern what would be the best way to specify the font size? A fraction of the total frame? Or something like

"....to show up as at least 12 pixel on a 1080 pixel display"


Specifying text in terms of pixel size is the most independent way of specifying size. Where you know the vertical resolution (like 720 lines or 1080 lines) then specifying pixels is exactly like saying "a fraction of the total frame".

And in practical terms, 12 pixels is pretty much the minimum recognizable height for common western characters, especially if some viewers are watching on screens of lower resolution.

  • Thanks. But isn't the bit about "where you know the vertical resolution" critical? i.e. 12 pixels on a 720 line screen will be far more readable that 12 on a 1080 line screen? – curious_cat Apr 18 '16 at 14:24
  • Probably "12 pixels on a 720 line screen will be far more readable that 12 on a 1080 line screen", but a 1080 line frame is arguably more likely to be viewed on a physically larger screen. In reality, there is NO foolproof way of specifying minimum character height for readability on the entire range of viewer screen sizes and resolutions. If you want a cogent argument for that specification, you would have to ask the people who made it. I rather agree with you that it sounds like something written by lawyers and not by practical people. – Richard Crowley Apr 18 '16 at 16:23

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