The National Institute on Aging says 12-14 points, but I'd like know what makes sense in pixels since point size are different for different font families. Google Bootstrap body font is 14px. Is that adequate for older adults?

  • Related question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/211/…
    – rk.
    Jun 17, 2013 at 14:37
  • 2
    If you stray far from standard font sizing, it would be self depreciating. Aging adults with vision issues surf the entire web, and would be expected to have made screen and browser adaptations to the standard. If you make your site notably larger, then you are crowding huge fonts into spaces already adapted to standard fonts. Jun 17, 2013 at 15:36
  • pixels are going to be different for different font families as well.
    – DA01
    Jun 17, 2013 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


The default size has always been at 16px. I would highly recommend using 16px on all sites. 14px is the smallest I would go for body.

12px is extremely small on a desktop. It was mainly used for aesthetics, but most sites should have abaondoned this practice.

here's a tool to help for conversions. http://pxtoem.com/

Article explaining why 16px is standard http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/10/07/16-pixels-body-copy-anything-less-costly-mistake/

I would like to assume 16px is a good start for senior citizens. Considering the fact that 16px is comparable to reading a book from the conventional distance. Of course there are people who needs glasses to read. From my experience the older groups in our tests struggle at 14px, but not at 16px. If they need bigger fonts, I would maybe try to suggest the user to ctrl/apple +/- before the content is served.


  • 1
    I would like to disagree about 16px being always default size. It became default within last few years, with mobile web. 12px used to be default for body text, could have been different earlier.
    – Igor-G
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:09
  • @moonkim I understand that 16px is standard, it has been discussed in other questions. This one is specifically asking for a senior population.
    – rk.
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:10
  • @Igor-G Jacob Nielson's group suggests anything above 12px. Ultimately you should have the user define what size he wants.
    – moon kim
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:32
  • @Igor-G Sorry, forgot the px to pts.. 12pts = 16px.
    – moon kim
    Jun 17, 2013 at 15:35
  • I understand, that's why I still would recommend 16px. I didn't mean to insult your knowledge. cheers.
    – moon kim
    Jun 17, 2013 at 18:37

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