Smallest readable printed font size for Calibri on my inkjet printer?


What would be the smallest font in Microsoft Word that when printed on an A4 size paper would still be readable?

By readable, I don't mean comfortably readable. All I need is for the printed text to be at least visible when I strain my eyes a little.

I am using Calibri as my font type. I have tried font size 6 before, and the text are still quite readable. Now, I want to try font size 5, but I am not sure how drastic would the change be.

Would font size 5 for Calibri in Microsoft Word still readable when printed out?

PS: I know I could do a test print on my own printer. Unfortunately, it blew up just a while ago and I have no convenient access to a printer at this point of time.

12/11/2012 12:24:00 PM

Accepted Answer

It depends on what DPI you use for the print. With a high resolution, ie. high DPI, you can print very small sizes.

Human eyes cannot read much details beyond 300 DPI so for readability there is little point of using higher DPIs than that. Higher resolutions above 300 DPI are typically used for technical reasons such to overcome ink-bleeding (or if I may, for marketing gimmick in consumer printers).

If you still want to print very small letters a very high resolution is needed. It won't be readable to most people, but it's possible to do.

Just for the sake of process:

1 point of a font is defined as 1/72 of an inch. If you want to print a font in 5 points that will obviosuly be 5/72 of an inch. So to not have those raster-points merge all together you will need a resolution twice that size as a minimum, meaning 144 DPI.

Will it be readable? In the real-world probably not, ref. ink-bleeding. So here you need to double the resolution again and you end up at ~300 DPI. If your font is more than basic simple sans-serif you will again run into problems with ink and rendition of the details of the font so again you need to double the DPI to about 600 DPI. You can see where this is going.

12/3/2012 5:42:00 PM

Going on the assumption that readability has been tossed in the can and we're focusing on "can I make that character out or not" ...

Caps are more open, "plug-resistant" glyphs. That is, a capital glyph is made up of larger shapes that can be reduced more dramatically. This can make for big savings in line height (thus, vertical space). I mention line height because the average character width goes up. At the same time, your minimum font size gets smaller too so you can make up some if not all of that difference.

Bottom line: In raw "can I make it out" terms, all-caps Calibri at 5pt will be fine. The caps will also allow you to go down to 6 or 7pt leading. No one but lawyers and bored elderly folks with magnifying glasses will ever read it, but the characters will technically render.