There is not a single answer to determining the smallest font size that can be used in every design. When determining the smallest font size to use, you must consider 3 factors: line weight (line thickness), legibility and printed product size. Below we will briefly explain why these factors are important to consider when selecting a font size.
Line thickness plays a role with the legibility of a font when printed. Depending on the stock being use, some thin fonts (e.g, script typefaces) may have difficulty being read. For Offset printing, a minimum thickness of 0.25pt should be used.
For Digital print process, we recommend to read the support article related to the specialty stock. Typically, a line thickness of 0.5pt or thicker will print legibly on any of our digital stocks, unless otherwise noted.
Line Thickness vs. Font Size
As all fonts are different, it’s important to measure thinner fonts to ensure the minimum line thickness is being met. One method of doing this is drawing a line with a stroke equal to the line thickness dimensions you would like to check. For example, if you have a stroke of 0.25pt and the font is the same size, you can determine the line thickness if 0.25pt. Repeat this process to find the exact line weight when needed. For this reason, a 20pt font may actually still be below the recommended line weight.
When considering a new font choice, the legibility when applied is also a key factor to consider.
Heavily textured stocks may interfere with the thin nature of script fonts or serif fonts. Other factors also include the use of reverse type – this means that light colored type is against a darker background. In both of these scenarios, we recommend to use a font that meets the minimum recommendation for reversed type (0.5pt) and to read the design considerations of our custom stocks.
The finished size of your project may also play a factor in selecting a minimum font size. For example, on a standard business card, 6pt would typically be legible to most individuals. However, 6pt on a large format poster may not be legible at all due to viewing distance. We strongly recommend to view your printed project at 100% scale on screen prior to submitting a job to confirm all type is legible and does not present an issue being read.