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Author Topic: White Text on Black Background  (Read 10785 times)
jeremypayne
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« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2012, 05:23:58 AM »
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Jeremy you seem to have the wrong end of my joke... No one in this thread...  Grin

Didn't get your joke, sorry about that.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2012, 11:25:12 AM »
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There are some "rules" in document design that have been around as long as printing. For example it's not only a rule, but easily verified, that more than about 65 characters in a line of text (the "measure" in conventional typesetting terms)  - including spaces - reduces readability steadily as additional characters are added. This has, quite literally, been known since Gutenberg's time. It's a rule that is regularly broken in website design. For example allowing the browser window to reset the line-length as it's adjusted (to accommodate other page elements) frequently leads to absurdly long lines of text. Now someone's likely to tell me that they don't have any difficulty reading lines longer than 65 characters, of course.

It's also been well established that reversed-out text (WOB as we used to call it "in the trade") for long copy as opposed to heads etc, also greatly reduces readability. I think I first encountered this - what seemed to me at the time a counter-intuitive idea - in one of Wally Olins' books on graphic design. Whether this applies to websites is for each individual to judge. I can't see why it wouldn't.

Roy
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BJL
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« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2012, 12:51:13 PM »
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There are some "rules" in document design that have been around as long as printing. ...

It's also been well established that reversed-out text (WOB as we used to call it "in the trade") for long copy as opposed to heads etc, also greatly reduces readability.
One qualification: what works for reading printed material, which requires enough background light to illuminate it, does not necessarily applied to reading "self-illuminated" material like a computer screen, which can be done in an other-wise very dimly lit environment so that everything except the screen is quite dark. Then, avoiding the brightness of a mostly white screen can reduce eye-strain. Bear in mind that that a lot of web-browsing is done late at night, and even as reading in bed ...

So I like the choice, just as good book-reading apps offer both BOW (normal) and WOB (night mode) ... and also black on sepia, which is my daytime favorite.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 01:25:17 PM by BJL » Logged
OldRoy
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« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2012, 02:52:38 PM »
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My own "book reading app"is, erm, usually a book! Smiley
Roy
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dreed
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2012, 10:28:22 AM »
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Well, consider that the default way in which text is displayed in the forums is dark on light...
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meyerweb
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« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2012, 08:20:24 AM »
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I'm not sure why LL has chosen white text on a black background for it's articles, but it's really, really a lot harder to read than the reverse. Reading this text in the forum, in black on white, is easy. Reading an article on camera design in white on black is really eye-straining. And somewhat ironic.  LED monitors, and font smoothing techniques just don't seem to work as well on reverse type, and there's a reason (other than simplicity and cost) that books aren't routinely printed in white type on a black background and every single operating system and word processor has long since moved to white on black. The human eye simply sees this combination better.

We're long past the days of CRT monitors writing green letters on a black screen.  Can LL please join the 21st century? My 58 year old eyes will thank you.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 08:24:23 AM by meyerweb » Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2012, 09:24:01 AM »
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I'm not sure why LL has chosen white text on a black background for it's articles, but it's really, really a lot harder to read than the reverse. ...

It definitely is not... For me. I hate Flickr for the white background, and every other page with it. Coming to the sites like LL ( e.g., Fred Miranda, DPReview) is a relief.

EDIT: There already is a thread about the same issue, the last post was only five days ago: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=66476.0
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 09:40:13 AM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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meyerweb
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« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2012, 10:19:23 AM »
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If you've got flicker from the background, you seriously need a new monitor or video card. Are you using the same computer you used in 1995?
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2012, 10:45:39 AM »
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Very funny. Wait, there are no emoticons indicating you were kidding. So you must be serious then? If so, your reading problem is much worse than feared.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 10:48:09 AM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

Slobodan

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Tom Frerichs
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« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2012, 11:06:07 AM »
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I'm not too paticular about white on black or black on white...

But grey on white, particulary when the designer has decided to go all CSS and chose a tiny font with no leading, is hell on my eyes.

I don't have any problems reading LuLa's content.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2012, 11:11:35 AM »
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... I don't have any problems reading LuLa's content.

But, but... Tom, it seems that I do: I see this post of yours in duplicate!? Wink
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Mark Guertin
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« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2012, 11:14:44 AM »
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I merged the two threads just in case anyone is confused about it.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2012, 04:40:13 PM »
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If anyone needs convincing that WOB renders dense copy more-or-less unreadable, I offer this piece as compelling evidence. Having lines of text comprising no less than 100 characters, plus excessively long paragraphs, adds injury to insult.

Now, someone's going to tell me that it's perfectly legible.

Roy
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 04:47:25 PM by OldRoy » Logged
David Sutton
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« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2012, 05:31:17 PM »
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I never had an opinion about this (or even thought about it I confess) until I downloaded the plug-in from readability.com as mentioned earlier in this thread.
When it converted the text from “A critique of contemporary camera design” from an average of 250 characters per line to 80 and black on white, it was as if my whole body suddenly relaxed. What an eye opener. Thanks to Jeremy for the link.
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BJL
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« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2012, 06:06:18 PM »
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Having lines of text comprising no less than 100 characters, plus excessively long paragraphs, adds injury to insult.

Now, someone's going to tell me that it's perfectly legible.
Well, it seems that many of us managed to read it, judging from all the comments!

But seriously, I agree that the essay has significant readability issues, though for me color scheme is not the worst of them. I had not thought about the too long lines, or the nice fact fact both Readability and the Reader feature of the Safari browser fix that too. You could also fix it in a more fiddly way, by resizing the browser window to be narrower: this site uses the traditional HTML web-site style of reflowing text to fit the width of the window. I blame 16:9 HD video shaped screens for stretching many websites too wide for those of us who use computers more for reading than for movie viewing: give me my old 4:3!

Unfortunately, neither Reader and Readability insert extra paragraph breaks!
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OldRoy
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« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2012, 03:02:51 AM »
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The generally accepted wisdom is that characters per line shouldn't exceed 65. Search Google Images for "Gutenberg Bible" to verify that this has been known for quite a while. Look at almost any magazine, book or newspaper.

Obviously website design, where the output aspect ratio and size is not fixed, introduces a complicating factor, however the principle remains valid. Whilst we're on the subject it's also a general rule in print media that body copy needs to be in a serif font, serifs aiding readability. Again, websites impose some specific considerations however given the ever-increasing resolution and quality of screens I don't see why the same rules would become irrelevant.

Roy
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Farmer
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« Reply #36 on: May 05, 2012, 06:51:52 AM »
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Serifs really only work with very high resolutions screens and generally with larger sizes - perhaps when we start seeing well over 200ppi and closer to 300ppi as standard?  I'm sure serif looks good on the new iPad screen, for example, although it will also depend on the colours being used and the aliasing etc.

For the vast majority of the web being viewed on devices that are either very small (even if hi-res) or pretty large (and lower res), sans serif is the better option for the moment.

What will be interesting is whether generations brought up on the "clean" sans serif web will easily adapt to accept serifs as technology provides the option?
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Ray
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« Reply #37 on: May 05, 2012, 07:11:31 AM »
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I'm really surprised that on a photography forum there is confusion about this issue.

White text on a black backgoround is less stressful on the eyes. It's as simple as that.

Photographers in this digital age spend a lot of time peering at a computer screen. The totally white background from a transmissive screen, such as computer monitor, represents a lot of bright light. Staring at such a screen all day long, including purposes other than photography, can be stressful.

A white text on a black background is much less stressful, for those who value their eyesight.
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BJL
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« Reply #38 on: May 05, 2012, 09:34:33 AM »
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The generally accepted wisdom is that characters per line shouldn't exceed 65.
Quite, and no one is disputing that! Another related guideline seems to be that reading material dominated by text usually works better in "portrait" shape, about 3:4. Only picture books favor "landscape". Both Readability and Reader also wisely give this portrait format.

So to elaborate on my previous comment, one solution is to narrow your browser window to have the main text region in a roughly 3:4 portrait shape (so about square overall?), which seems to be what this site is designed for: that will reflow the text of LuLa articles closer to that 65 character ideal.

Also, on serifs, I agree with both previous posters:
- I look forward to the day when we can move beyond sans serif fonts like Helvetica (Apple's favorite) and Arial (Microsoft's response), which should be relegated to signage.
- This needs screen resolution to increase, to what Apple has dubbed "Retina" resolution levels, about 3000 pixels per viewing distance.
- This seems to be coming, with the 2048x1536 screen of the 2012 iPad a harbinger of 3K or 4K displays coming soon to many desktops.

EDIT: maybe serif fonts do not need so much resolution: I just realized that Reader on my iPad 2 uses a serif font (Palatino?), and it works well even with this mere 1024x768 display. So maybe those simple, chunky sans serif fonts on websites are a hangover from VGA display resolution?
« Last Edit: May 05, 2012, 02:42:26 PM by BJL » Logged
Kerry L
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« Reply #39 on: May 05, 2012, 09:35:06 AM »
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I'm really surprised that on a photography forum there is confusion about this issue.

White text on a black backgoround is less stressful on the eyes. It's as simple as that.

Photographers in this digital age spend a lot of time peering at a computer screen. The totally white background from a transmissive screen, such as computer monitor, represents a lot of bright light. Staring at such a screen all day long, including purposes other than photography, can be stressful.

A white text on a black background is much less stressful, for those who value their eyesight.

Well, for me, I find reading this forum easier to read that the home site.
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"Try and let your mind see further than your eyes.”
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