Make Light-on-Dark Text Look Great

White, and light-colored text, on a dark background (known as reversed type) can be beautifully striking, giving your design a rich, compelling look.

The downside is that it can also be difficult to read, especially when you’re working with small text. While your white text looks perfect on a monitor, the printed version may not show up as well. This is because the darker surrounding ink tends to fill in small, light-colored letters.

How white text looks on a monitor

How the same white text looks printed

Here’s the good news: By keeping a few concepts in mind, you can design with reversed type and be sure to keep all your text legible. Spoiler alert: Font and point size make all the difference in getting a great print.

Our designs are carefully formatted to make sure all text looks great and is easy to read. We hope this guide helps you get the best results if you are designing your own artwork for print.

CHOOSING A FONT: serif vs sans serif, and more

• Sans serif typefaces are easiest to read in reverse type, as long as their letters aren’t too slender.

• Serif fonts can work perfectly well too. Just make sure that their serifs are substantial. Ultra thin serifs can easily disappear in the printing process.

• Opt for typefaces with medium to thick strokes, ones that are sturdy enough to hold their details when printed.

• Most script fonts are too delicate to read well in reversed type. If you do use a script, ensure that it has uniformly thick strokes and make it 10pt or larger.

ADJUSTING TYPE SIZE:

• All printed text should be at least 5pt to be legible. Even then, it may be difficult to see each letter clearly without reading glasses.

• When using light-colored text on a dark background, it’s a good idea to bump up your small text to at least 6pt. This means that the upper-case letters should be a minimum of .0625″ (1/16″) high.

• If possible, try out your light-on-dark text using an office printer to see if your type size reads well.

EXTRA TIPS:

• Consider widening your letter spacing (also known as tracking) more than usual. Because reversed type tends to look tighter, spacing letters further apart makes text easier to read.

• Avoid using typefaces with super thin crossbars on the letters t and f. In some fonts, the “t” can look like an “l” if the crossbar in the center isn’t visible.

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Bobbi (40 Posts)

Bobbi works as a designer and blog contributor at Evermine. When she’s not working on new designs or styling customer orders Bobbi enjoys hiking, yoga, making pizza and all kinds of crafty things.


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