I am trying to find some research or thoughts on any readability issues around displaying price.

We are tossing up the idea around displaying the price with a small $ symbol and small cents.

An example is the price tag in this image:

Whilst this causes some extra code - which I would prefer to avoid - are there any readability issues surrounding Price being presented this way?

1 Answer 1


The goal of that type of price display is to encourage the user to ignore the cents on an item. They see the '12', but kind of ignore the '96', which leads to shoppers unconsciously lowering the cost of the item by a dollar; mentally rounding the price down to $12, not up to $13. As a retailer this is certainly an attractive prospect, especially for many low cost items ($295 looks a lot like $2, much cheaper than $3).

So the question is not really 'is there a usability issue', because there obviously is. The user will incorrectly estimate the cost of items. The real question is 'will this annoy the user enough to leave', and to be honest that depends on the rest of the site far more than a single price display.

However, I can point you to the usability issues inherent in small text. The older our population gets, the more impaired their vision; while you may want to de-emphasize the cents, you certainly don't want it to be illegible. This is what will happen however for a significant chunk of users if the cents drops below about 10pt in size. If they can't read the cents portion at all I would not be surprised if it drove away some users.

  • Just want to voice agreement on the subject of people eventually leaving because they keep ending up with a higher total than they're led to expect. I don't mind the small dollar sign, but the cents are too low and bound to create a bad experience, consciously or unconsciously. May 31, 2012 at 3:49
  • Thank you for the great answer, some points there I had not thought of. THe idea we are trying to mislead the user - I really don't want that!
    – corbijn
    May 31, 2012 at 4:52
  • Agree with the answer above, and it can be a hiding to nothing as you will need to display a total basket price at checkout, this smoke and mirrors type of draw isn't a great customer experience, in my experience. Jan 14, 2019 at 10:51

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