When placing copy on a print piece or web page, try to resist the urge to use unusual color combinations. Just look at magazine advertisements (women’s mags and catalogs are the worst offenders!) or billboards. How often is the type unreadable because the contrast between the background and the copy is not great enough. Sexy color combinations may be tempting, but the first test of any copy is Can you read it!
One time-honored test is so simple, you’ll be amazed you didn’t think of it. Here it is: Photocopy the color page in black and white. The copy will pop, or it won’t—it blurs into the background color. Now there’s no argument about what needs to change.
Other factors affecting readability:
Type face: Text Type is designed to be legible and readable. Display type is designed to attract attention. Don’t get carried away with a stylish but hard-to-decipher selection.
Font size: Sometimes, in order to include more text, there’s a temptation to reduce the font size. Beware! Somewhere between 10 pt and 11 pt is ideal for reading in print (think newspaper). When you’re designing something that begs to be read, you want to give the reader all the encouragement you can. That’s why most body copy is at least 12 pt. And if you audience is older, you’ll want to think larger.
Hierarchies of text size: The headline should be larger; the caption may be smaller. Other levels of copy should be sized in logical proportions according to their importance. Items of equal importance, or parallel, should indicate this by being the same size. This helps the reader sense the organization of the page even before he starts reading.
Line length: For normal reading, the eye’s span of acute focus is only about three ro four inches wide (think book page or magazine). The longer line length on most web pages requires the reader’s eye muscles to track lines longer than is comfortable. Not an inducement to keep reading!
A wise fundraiser resists the temptation to go wild with design. The ultimate test is always: Can the reader get your point? Will he take the trouble? The choice is yours.