Font size matters to me on a weird, emotional, subconscious level. Really it does. When my words are smaller, like 10pt or 11pt or something, I like them better, I take them more seriously, find them more beautiful and think they are more clever than they probably are.
I really don’t know why this is and I never really thought about it before, but today I was writing a story and I wasn’t 100% feeling it so I tried to make the font size smaller and viola, I was in love.
I just did it while I was writing this blog post too, I reduced the size two points and all of a sudden I felt like I was saying something more important.
I wonder if this is unusual?
I just did a cursory and completely not thorough search on ‘the psychological effects of font size’ and found an abstract for a study that suggests negative responses to written words start earlier and last longer for larger fonts (assuming I’m interpreting the abstract correctly). But other than that it’s mostly hits for the effects of different kinds of fonts, not size.
So what is it about the size that matters?
Well I guess a good question would be: who reads books with bigger fonts? Answer: children!
It makes sense in a way, children’s books have these big, cartoonish fonts. Tween and young adult books have pretty big fonts too. Then we get to adult stuff and the size seems to matter there too. Have you ever picked up one of those densely packed ‘cerebral’ novels where the font size is minuscule and the words just seem packed onto the page? Those kinds of books always seem super intimidating to me, but at the same time super important. Like if I conquer those thick, unbroken paragraphs I really must be smart. I’m willing to bet Harlequin romance novels or commercial fiction don’t use that tiny font size because they want their fiction to seem more accessible.
It always shocks and amazes me how many things we subconsciously perceive and use to navigate the world and form opinions. I wouldn’t even have noticed my odd respect for smaller font size if it wasn’t for my own observations while writing.
So is this a thing publishers know about and use to their advantage? Does font size really play a part in the perceived intellectual value of a book? I’m willing to bet it does. I really think font size matters.
If you haven’t noticed how you feel about font size try it now with a story you’ve already written then tell me your thoughts and emotional responses to font size.