Some Thoughts on Type Size

The Word is wordy, my friends, and to fit all those words into a handy-sized book requires some compromise. But why say it when I can show it:


I chose the font, Minion Pro, at random to illustrate the situation. The same information can be contained in less than half the space by reducing the type size by 3.6 points. And because with the Bible there is so much information to convey, small type abounds. You may feel like you're reading a microdot, but at least you're not supporting the weight of a pulpit Bible.

If the proportions are right -- column width, line spacing, and so on -- I'm willing to put up with smaller type to have a smaller book. But as a recent commenter pointed out, I'm a young whippersnapper (thirty nine) with good vision (20/20 with my glasses, if I squint). Some readers simply can't cope with type in the 7-8 pt. range without magnification.

Bibles are often designed to fulfill a variety of tasks, based on the assumption that we'd prefer to read, study, and worship from the same volume. So in addition to the text, you have footnotes, cross references, and other "helps" shoehorned in, as well as front and back matter intended to aid reading. But you know what? Sometimes it's better to do one thing well than do half a dozen things badly.

Strip out the cross references and the notes and the back matter and what you have left is empty space, space for the text to breathe and even expand. The advent of electronic Bibles makes this kind of specialization rather sensible, since there are no space constraints in the virtual book. I don't like to read from a screen, but when it comes to study I don't usually bother anymore with the limited notes and references that can be squeezed onto the physical page. 

Paradoxically, I think less "helps" would actually be more helpful. It would help with one thing in particular, which is reading. I'm content to do away with all the advantages the helps provide (which were not available, after all, to the original readers) to better accomplish the main goal, which is to take and read.