Are customers ignoring your email because you’re using the wrong size font?

January 24, 2011 · 4 comments

Here’s a really good marketing idea that is so simple, it might be easy to ignore. Please don’t.

I read an average of 100 emails a day. These are real emails from real printers, and they represent a good sampling of who’s using what font size.

Some of the emails I get are very hard to read because the fonts are way too small to read easily. See for yourself. Here is an example from an actual email I received to show you what I’m talking about:

sample type from an email

Personally, I think that the font used for email should be large enough for people to read without any effort. The font shown above is really tiny. Unfortunately, I see this kind of thing in about 10% of all the emails I receive. It’s hard to make a good impression when your customers have a difficult time reading your email.

When researching best practices for font use in email, there was one thing I discovered. There isn’t one correct answer. Some articles cite visibility studies, and most seem to agree that the font size should never be below 10pt (understandably). Beyond that, though, there seem to be two camps –10pt or 12pt. The same is true for type-styles. Some proclaim Arial to be the best. Others suggest that serif fonts like Times New Roman are easier to read. Still others assert that Georgia is the most legible. FWIW, I use Times New Roman 14pt for my personal emails.

So here’s a simple question to ask yourself. Have you checked the computers at your business to make sure your co-workers are using a font size that your customers can easily read?

P.S. If you receive this blog via email and would like to see a quick example of the difference a ‘font choice’ can make, click on the Gutenblog green acorn on the upper right side of this email, to see this exact article presented differently.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Farquharson January 26, 2011 at 7:45 am

Mike, I always thought it was a default of that particular computer or mail program. I have friends and clients whose emails come in at 8pt or worse due to no fault of their own. I wonder how you could control it and change what you are sending.

Mike Stevens January 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Hi Bill, there is good news.

Font size and the font type style can be “personalized.”

Font size and typeface selection are handled through the email software’s preferences/options panel. Typically, the software divides its preferences into multiple tabs, one of which is for composing new mail. This is where you’ll find the settings. I use Apple’s default Mail program. The preferences are located under the “Mail” menu at the top of the screen.

Apple does things a little differently. In Mail’s preferences panel, they have a separate tab called “Fonts & Colors,” which is where you can change the settings (instead of the “Composing” tab). One of my tech guys uses Windows Live Mail on a PC. For him, font selection is handled through the “Options” under the “Tools” menu. In his case, “Compose” is the name of the tab where fonts and font sizes are selected.

Hope that helps.

Steve Robison January 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hey Mike,
I know exactly how you feel.
I have a client that uses small type for his emails. So I put up with it. But I think it is high time that I suggested he consider his reader. What is ironic , this client is an internet marketer that provides consultation for email marketing.

I’d sure like to know what email platform he uses for composition.

Maybe he only sends the small type to me 🙂 Go figure.

Phil Walker January 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm


I really look forward to your emails. I have taken a lot from these and put the suggestions into my my business. thank-you!

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