Wednesday, July 15, 2009


What is it with fine print that raises the hackles in me? I tend to view with suspicion anything that is in small print. You know what I mean. What's the point of announcing a fantastic bargain in 3-storey high font size, and then at the bottom add, in minuscule print, the words "Terms and conditions apply"? Suddenly the product advertised doesn't look that attractive after all.

Great offers usually come with strings or conditions attached - in fine print.

When there's good news to share, one would expect it to be announced in eye-popping big letters, especially if the good news is meant for senior citizens. You don't need to be an expert in gerontology to know that this demographic group does not have 20/20 vision - far from it.

Bottom right - 75% tuition fee reduction, and in fine print below that "For senior citizens born on or before 31 August 1957". And below that in even finer print - "Subject to terms and conditions". Think they can see that?

My grouse with fine print actually started some months ago when our subscriber's copy of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) shrank to two-thirds the original size, and the printed words to microscopic size. Reading the news items in the IHT has become an exercise in squinting.

The new and smaller IHT - a sign of bad times or a move towards saving trees?

The same goes for nutrition facts on food labels. Making out the calories or percentage of fat per serving, for example, is like deciphering hieroglyphics. And it's time-consuming too.

Not surprising most shoppers don't read the nutrition facts on food labels - too much work!

Fortunately online marketers have begun to realize that to sell to the 50+, their website has got to be elderly-friendly. Web content must be easy to read, and links sufficiently large enough for them to click on at one go.

Gmail has inserted a tab that allows you to choose your preferred font size: small, normal, large or huge. My mobile has font size options too. For that I'm eternally grateful.

Now let's hope publishers will take the cue and come up with more books, magazines and dictionaries with large print. Either that or pray that, like wine, our eyesight gets better with age.

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