Typical nespaper font sizes English vs Chinese

Si_Daniels's picture

Anyone know the typical type sizes used in English language newspapers vs Chinese language papers. Is it true that Chinese papers use a larger type size than English newspapers?

quadibloc's picture

Oh, dear, yes. Something like 16 points for Chinese, versus 8 points for English. For, of course, obvious reasons.

J. Tillman's picture

What are the obvious reasons?

Tom Gewecke's picture

So the reader can distinguish the details of the characters, which may be necessary to know what they mean?

jasonc's picture

But isn't the question then: are we sizing the Latin correctly within a Chinese font?
That is, we make assumptions about the relationship of the ideographs to the Latin glyphs when we draw a Chinese font containing Latin. But then if most users set the same font at different sizes for Latin and Chinese, perhaps that relationship needs to be adjusted?

hrant's picture

The non-intuitive but central thing to remember about relative apparent size between scripts is that it should be just another factor - it should not always be equalized.


Tom Gewecke's picture

@jasonc It seems to me it doesn't make sense to use a Chinese font for mainly Latin text, while for Latin characters embedded in Chinese text you would follow the practice of the standard Chinese font makers. Most of those that come with OS X seem to make the Latin caps just slightly smaller than the Chinese.

Si_Daniels's picture

Thanks all! Super helpful.

Cheers, Si

quadibloc's picture

But isn't the question then: are we sizing the Latin correctly within a Chinese font?

Not really. Because while texts in English with a few Chinese characters might use different point sizes for the two, as long as you're using one font, the line spacing remains constant.

jwchen's picture

More traditional publications set body text about 11/13 - 12/14 ish while gossip rags set it to larger types.

Just keep in mind if you are going to set your type vertically, leading are tight and tracking will be loose.

As for type sizes, anything under 12pt will require specific typefaces/fonts. Since anti-alias or ink bleed will render your text hard to read or illegible.

rickmartin's picture

Yes, dear it is true. It is an ancient culture of Chinese to get a good clarity reading that is good for the eyes. I do not know much about it. But your doubt is true. Chinese has own traditions and styles. http://www.fashionforplay.com

Martin Silvertant's picture

This video starting from 38:00 minutes may be of interest to you as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMr4aBdag3Q

As for type sizes, anything under 12pt will require specific typefaces/fonts. Since anti-alias or ink bleed will render your text hard to read or illegible.

In your example 14pt seems to be a stretch already. Isn't the script just too detailed to set at a small point size? What are the considerations and requirements for old people?

grubstreet's picture

I think it’s the other way around: Chinese text should be smaller than Latin text, especially when in print using traditional serif faces. This is because CJK ideographs’ essential visual area fills the entire em block (when we CJK people read, we read the whole thing – basically the contour or the mock shape), while Latin’s essential visual area is concentrated around the x-height. Another reason (Mr. David Berlow says,) is that same amount of Latin text has a lower grayness density than CJK text, similarly because CJK text fills the whole em block.

This means that when you have, say, a Mincho cross-typeset with a Garalde or a Venetian, the Mincho always looks bigger and should be compensated by a smaller point size. But again it’s dependent on what typefaces you choose to combine. Those with a higher x-height may need less compensation.

The best solution is to make one truly harmonious typeface so that when one language is set at a certain size, the other language is already adjusted. The existing CJK ones are mostly mere combinations of two typefaces without changing them (i.e. a Mincho adhered to a Caslon, or a Gothic adhered to a Frutiger). Then the question comes: what kind of guidance should we follow, if “CJK size equals Latin’s x-height” is too crude?

quadibloc's picture

@Grub Street:
That's an interesting perspective. It is true that the x-height of Latin represents the part of the character that is always present, and so in some sense it is comparable to the full height of a Chinese character.

But one only has to distinguish between 52 glyphs in the Latin alphabet - and so there's a lot less detail and information in a letter than in a character.

So, while I might agree that in a combined setting, for visual harmony, one might have Chinese characters at the height of, say, small capitals, if they were fully legible at that height, the fact that independently Latin text tends to be legible even at 8 points (in a typeface designed for good legibility) while CJK text needs at least 12 doesn't change either.

So the needs of legibility and those of esthetics seem to be in direct opposition here.

If one is designing a Chinese font, presumably it's going to be used primarily to print Chinese text. The Latin characters should be at a size that will not cause disruption to that text when an occasional name or phrase in a Latin-alphabet language is interposed. At least that's the goal existing practice is aimed at, and it seems reasonable to me.

English-language books about the Chinese language will sometimes happily disfigure a paragraph set in 10-point type with Chinese characters at 24 points or thereabouts; that's because a maximum level of legibility for readers with little if any familiarity with Chinese is their goal. That is an extreme of typographic practice for a particular situation, and is not the optimum for regular work either.

grubstreet's picture

Axis is doing great work on balancing aesthetic and functional needs for CJK-Latin typesetting. See their TP Mincho: http://www.typeproject.com/font/tpmincho/en/

Yes, I admit that lowest threshold point sizes for CJK and Latin are not the same. Yet while (I assume) most people would agree that we should keep text legible before making it beautiful. While TP Mincho’s “a wide range of contrast levels” could be easily seen as pure PR done to sell an ordinary idea of “a wide range of interpolation,” it has at least provided a possible way to make things beautiful (having a higher contrast ratio for Latin, overshooting all the Japanese characters, reducing unnecessary strokes, not adhering to a strict Latin tradition, &c.)

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