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I'm reviewing a site design and the hero image has a font size of 53px, which feels uncomfortably large, especially for longer titles.

Is there a limit to how big titles should be on the web? i.e. are there any guidelines around this?

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    this question is absolutely relative. I have used 72px font sizes without problems, even up to 120px (so more than 200% over what you perceive as uncomfortable). It depends on many things, starting from style, emotional aspects, screen size, device, resolution, font family, color, contrast and so on. I did a quick test: styled the title of this post with 53px font size. It looks nice, nothing really astonishingly big. And it's not even a hero image supposed to use much bigger sizes – Devin Jun 23 '16 at 17:36
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What would be helpful to the designer is if you can tell them why it appears to be uncomfortably large, in your estimation. Often, I find that it's not the actual point-size of the text alone that makes it uncomfortable. Off the top of my head, here are some reasons why a large font size might make the text seem uncomfortable to read:

  • The heading is broken onto several lines; flicking the eyes from one end of a large screen to the other can be an uncomfortable experience, especially if there are only a handful of words per line
  • The visual composition is unbalanced—that is, the heading draws undue attention and makes it uncomfortable to try and look at other things on the page. This might be exaggerated if the headline is also the brightest color, has the sharpest contrast, etc.
  • Perhaps the large text obscures the hero image too much, or gets uncomfortably close to a prominent element of the image, creating a tension point
  • It could be uncomfortable to read the large text if the eye has to move several times to read long words

To your question about existing standards for type sizes, the answer is no, I don't think there are any standards for upper limits to point size. (There are accessibility guidelines that describe a minimum legible font size, though.)

It never hurts to voice your concerns, and let the designer decide how to address the issue. (The whole point of a critique is to improve the work, after all.) Don't forget, there is probably a reason they made the hero text that big, so provide as much detail as you can about the problem, but try not to be prescriptive about the solution.


If you're looking to read up on this further, I recommend starting with the article "Responsive Typography: the Basics" by iA. They do a pretty good job of explaining the variables involved with designing typography for the web.

  • Thank you for your answer it has clarified things quite a bit for me. I think the main issue for me was that the lines of text typically split over two lines which for relatively short sentences led to what i felt was bad legibility. The balance of visual composition is another issue. Thanks your answer seems to have conceptualised my feelings – Lukas_T Jun 24 '16 at 9:07
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From a cognitive perspective what matters is the size of the projected text on the retina, which involves:

  • Font size
  • Display size
  • Display resolution
  • Distance of the display from the eyes

So there isn't really a gold standard, what will appear small to some will appear large to others.

Obviously, this doesn't apply if you know the screen size/resolution/position like you would with airport information screens - there you can work out legibility based on distance.

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