7 Ways Large Type Helps Boost Advertising Readership

senior woman reading mail

Americans age 45+ earn more than 50% of U.S. discretionary income

That amounts to $756 billion.

They make from 45% to 75% of annual purchases of new cars and trucks … non-business computers … personal-care products … food … and airline travel, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The fastest-growing U.S. demographic segment is age 50+

Every seven seconds, an American turns 50, according to the Census Bureau.

Most older Americans experience vision deficits

They have difficulty with short-range tasks such as reading and distinguishing colors and contrasts and need more light than they did when younger, says the “Lighthouse National Survey On Vision Loss.”

Readership matters—and readers are growing older

The number of Americans aged 45–64—who will reach 65 over the next two decades—increased by 20.7% between 2003 and 2013.

David Ogilvy’s opposition to reverse type called into question

Ogilvy detested white letters printed on a black background, which he said were inherently unreadable. However, Lighthouse research indicates that white letters on a dark background are easiest to read for many older people.

Large, legible type makes for high advertising readership

Big type translates into effective message delivery, more customers, and customer loyalty, according to the Lighthouse International “Top 10 Reasons Big Type Is Good Business.” Or, as The New York Times once quoted prominent adman Jerry Della Femina as saying, "Small type kills great advertising.”

Examples of unreadable advertising typography

The Times wrote in a review of the Lighthouse’s comprehensive “Size Matters” exhibition in New York, that unreadable advertisements

  • Use 12-point (1/6") or smaller type

  • Employ decorative fonts

  • Leave too little space (less than 25% to 30% of type size) between characters

  • Do not provide enough contrast between type and background

See also:

Graphics and Typography Homepage

Advertising Copy Home Page

Marketing Tactics Home Page

Marketing Home Page

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